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How to deal with post-college “comparisonitis”—when it seems like you’re the last one to get a job

Step one, remember that your friends’ lives are not as perfect as they look on Instagram.

How to deal with post-college “comparisonitis”—when it seems like you’re the last one to get a job

You’re happy for your friends who have new jobs —well, most of the time anyway — but you’re still a little freaked out that you don’t have any post-graduation plans yourself. It seems like your friends have all figured out what “the real world” entails and you’re just trying not to end up in your parents’ basement.

Comparing yourself to your friends won’t help you figure out your post-grad plan...but you also don’t have to feel guilty for feeling envious, says Dr. Helen Odessky, a Chicago-based clinical psychologist.

“Accept how you feel — envy is a human emotion, but don’t wallow in it,” she says. “Instead let it go by reminding yourself that someone else's success doesn't take away from yours, and use it as inspiration to reach for your dream job.”

Monster spoke to experts to find out how to deal with the curse of comparisonitis — and how to shift your focus to landing your next job.

Try to avoid apples to oranges comparisons

Just like when if you assume your friends’ lives are perfect as they seem on Instagram, you may not know what their job search has been like either. They have different majors, contacts, and in many cases, different job prospects than you do.

“It’s important to remember that for different companies, entry-level recruiting can have completely different processes,” says Jaime Petkanics, founder of the New York City-based job search consultancy, The Prepary. “Some companies have a very structured recruiting process that allows them to recruit new hires many months in advance of graduation,” she says.

So your friends in finance will likely have jobs lined up way before your friends in marketing. Your teaching friends will have a completely different hiring process than your friends launching careers in the medical field.

Focus on what makes you awesome

Once you’ve accepted that your job search situation cannot be directly compared with anyone else’s, it’s time to turn the attention back to you.

“Remind yourself of what you have to offer and what you have going for you,” says Dr. Melanie Ross Mills, a Dallas-based therapist specializing in temperament therapy. “Know your own strengths and embrace your value,” she says.

Take stock of your accomplishments and make sure your resume lists everything you’ve done that shows your value to employers: GPA, internships, volunteer work, sports, part-time jobs, extra-curricular activities, skills—don’t leave anything out.

Really want to hone your career mission statement? Try writing a career manifesto. And if you need some help making all of your accomplishments shine, invest in a resume overhaul from our partners at Top Resume.

Create a YOU-centric job search

You’ve spent some time listing your assets. You know what you’ve got to offer, but how do you decide what jobs to apply for?

“What’s right for your friends isn’t necessarily what’s right for you,” says Lauren Berger, founder and CEO of the Intern Queen, a Los Angeles-based resource for college students. So first, do some research to find your perfect fit. A great place to start is by reading company reviews written by employees at review site Kununu. See if something stands out that says it’s “your” kind of place (dog-friendly? Flexible schedules? At-work gym?) That will also help set your job search apart from your friends’.

Berger also recommends reading relevant industry news so you have a pulse on the companies and work that interests you. Start following them on social media so you’ll be up to date on what’s happening at specific companies and in the fields that interest you.

(Bonus: You’ll impress your interviewer and future employer with your industry knowledge!) Use your research to create a list of 10 “dream companies” to apply to.

Finally, if you haven’t been hired for your dream job yet, use this time wisely.

“Hold informational interviews with alums or contacts at your dream companies so that when a job opens, you have people ready to refer you,” Petkanics says. The closer you get to finding that right place for your first job, the less you’ll think about your friends and their jobs.

She also recommends starting a side project, taking industry-specific classes, and focusing on developing the transferable skills that are critical to your intended industry. “There are so many valuable ways to spend your time, but panicking isn't one of them,” she adds.

Of course, we couldn’t talk about avoiding the “no job” panic without suggesting you use Monster to start looking for jobs, could we? No, we couldn’t. Take a look. Your next job might be there now! 

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