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RDC Career Services: Managing mental health in an online environment

Submitted by
Michelle Brown

It’s a tricky time for job seekers right now. Our economic environment paired with COVID-19 restrictions make it challenging to connect with potential employers and professional networks in traditional ways. This fall, RDC Career Services will share tools and resources that can help you search for career opportunities in a virtual environment.  

Job searching can be stressful under any circumstances, but especially if you’re feeling isolated due to COVID-19 social gathering restrictions, and finding that in-person networking opportunities are limited, if they are available at all. It’s important to take care of your health and wellness to stay motivated, and to feel prepared when opportunities do arise. Here, RDC Career Services shares some tips for maintaining your mental health while job searching in a virtual environment. These tips are also helpful for anyone working from home.   

1. Goal setting and Time Management 

Job searching online can be an endless task if you let it. Set measurable goals and time management guidelines for yourself so that you don’t get overwhelmed. You’ll need to find a strategy that works for you, but try to commit to a schedule that includes time for searching, networking and applying for positions, and that creates a natural opportunity to take breaks. For example, a day might look like this:  

  • One hour following up on leads from your network, engaging with professional associations and shining up your LinkedIn profile. On LinkedIn, you can endorse skills for coworkers and former classmates and ask them to do the same. You can also ask people in your professional network to write a note of recommendation. Creating a professional online presence is critical in an virtual environment, and will help you grow your network in the long-term, as well. 
  • Next, take a break to stretch, get outside or just move around. It will help to reset you for the next task.  
  • One hour reviewing new opportunities on the RDC Job Board, Indeed, LinkedIn and other job boards specific to your profession. RDC Career Services has tools to help you find these resources, organized by your credential. Bookmark the opportunities you plan to apply for.  
  • Take another break, away from your computer. 
  • One hour applying for the jobs you bookmarked, customizing your resume and cover letter for each new position. Find tips on creating both of these here. If you’ve found a lot of opportunities to apply for, set an alarm on your phone to remind you to get up and move around every hour or hour and a half. 

Approaching your day with a plan will help you stay motivated as you see and measure progress toward your goals.  

For more help with time management, including how to find time when you feel like you don't have any, the School of Continuing education offers a $55 webinar on September 30: Global Insights: The Art of Time Blocking hosted by Sarah Strauss, master time-blocker.

2. Stretch and move

Spending a long time in one position, sitting over a keyboard or staring at a computer can be hard on your body. Get up regularly, move around, and do some stretches to keep from getting stiff. Bonus: repetitive movement can also help you focus.  

RDC’s Health Safety and Wellness team shares some great resources for students and staff on the Loop. Check out the Be Fit For Life YouTube channel, or some of these tools: 

General COVID-19 Tools and Resources
Mental Health Tips for Working from Home
Ergonomic Tips & Other Recommendations

3. Get outside

When you’re job searching online or working from home, time can disappear on you. Before you know it, you’ve been staring at a computer screen for hours in one position. Furthermore, job searching can be stressful, and staying so engrossed in that work can really take its toll. Take some time to disconnect, get outside and be active.  

One thing that many of us can do is enjoy the great outdoors, including the beautiful, natural trail systems in our region. If you’ve already explored the 100+ km of trails in Red Deer, there are many stunning trail systems just a short drive from town. Download a pdf map of the NOVA Chemicals Community Nature Trail near Joffre.  The Lacombe County website also has a good, long list of trail maps in the Red Deer area. 

4. Manage your expectations  

  • Don’t be afraid to apply for positions where you don’t meet 100% of the criteria, and don’t be disheartened by the jobs you don’t land. Job searching can be a lot of work, but your efforts will pay off. 

  • When you’re reviewing the postings in your field, make note of any skills or competencies you don’t have yet, and create a professional development plan to improve in those areas. The School of Continuing Education might have an online course to support you, and RDC Alumni Benefits Card holders receive 10% off most courses. 
    Complete the Continuing Education Scholarship Application before October 1 and be considered for these three available scholarships: 

  • Access and Excellence RDC Alumnus Scholarship 
  • Canadian Western Bank Continuing Education Scholarship in Honor of Jack Donald 
  • Nina Dary Memorial Scholarship 

The Princess Auto Foundation Pre-Employment Bursary is open until September 15. Apply online, or learn more about all of these scholarships here. 

  • Your career journey will be filled with many unique experiences, and each is an opportunity to learn more about the work you love to do. Think about widening your search to include position types that you might not have thought of as directly connected to your ultimate career path. Our Alumni Stories often include detours that alumni didn’t expect when they considered the path their career might take. 

5. If you're struggling, connect to the supports that are available to you.

RDC's Counselling Services shares tools and information here, which can help you if you're struggling or if you're worried about someone you know. More community resources can be found here. We want you to be successful, and we're here to support you throughout your career journey.

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RDC Inquiries

Mon-Fri 8:30 am - 4:30 pm
Main Phone: 403.342.3400
Toll-free: 1.888.732.4630 (in Canada only)
Email: inquire [at] rdc [dot] ab [dot] ca


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