While COVID-19 has many employers staying at home and temporarily shutting their doors, this unfortunately isn’t the first or the last time in our lives when the path forward may be unclear. The economy, job market and world in general tend to cycle through highs and lows – but there are some things still under our control.
Here are some helpful tips for creatively navigating the job markets after graduating in times of uncertainty:
1. Keep a “Brag Book”
Considered standard practice in sales and more creative fields, developing a brag book, or a portfolio of your qualifications, can bolster your interview experience regardless of industry! Compiling your brag book can be a wonderful reminder of all your accomplishments and also serve as tangible testament to your qualifications. For recent graduates, brag books can include your college transcript, copies of your diploma, writing samples, and letters of recommendations from professors and supervisors.
2. Make Networking a Habit
A competitive job market can make being noticed by recruiters much harder, but knowing someone at a company can make all the difference! College campuses are a great place to build your network. Reach out to professors with connections in your field, talk to family friends with jobs you admire, and write to alumni at your dream company. While not all connections will lead to a job, networking is vital for learning about your industry, staying informed on market trends, and meeting your prospective mentor, colleague, or employer!
3. Know What Types of Jobs and Companies are Available in Your Field
Understanding the roles and responsibilities of an entry-level hire in your field can be very beneficial in curating your resume and cover letter. If you want to get into marketing, for example, put less of a spotlight on your duties as a lab assistant. Instead, prioritize the skills and experiences that would be most applicable to the job you are applying for.
4. Update Your Job Application Materials on a Regular Basis
If you find a new internship or gain a new certification, take advantage of the momentum surrounding it! Keeping your resume and application material updated not only makes you a more desirable candidate for employers, it can also remind you of your career goals and inspire you on your job search.
5. Have (or Start) an Emergency Savings Fund
An emergency savings fund can help you prepare for any bumps in the road – like a global pandemic! Generally, an emergency fund should cover anywhere between three to six months of living expenses. As a college student or recent grad, this might be a little tough but start by putting 20% of any paycheck you receive into savings.
6. Make Your Resume Stand Out – Include Everything That Makes You Great
In most instances, your resume is your first chance to really impress a recruiter. For most college graduates, your resume should be a one-page document highlighting your experiences and achievements. For those entering creative fields, your resume is the first opportunity to show off your design work. Make it engaging and inventive! Make sure to include a header and career objectives to let the recruiter know what skills you bring to the company. A resume is a first impression so make it shine!
7. Have a Solution-Oriented Mindset
Being a problem solver is a huge asset to any workplace! Solution-oriented thinkers are risk takers who can think creatively and outside the box when looking for answers. Before writing a cover letter or going into an interview, think of a time when you were tasked with a problem and impress your recruiters with your innovative thinking!
8. Build New Skills
Stop the Netflix binge-watching and pick up a new skill! Employers want to know that you’ve spent the time between graduation and your potential interview investing in yourself and your career. Take a free digital literacy course or spend a few hours learning the basics of graphic design. Check out free courses offered on Coursera. Learning a new skill can make a world of difference on your application!
9. Get on LinkedIn
With recruitment moving online, having a robust LinkedIn profile can be the key to catching a company’s eye. As well as having access to their vast job board, LinkedIn also allows you to engage with your dream companies, stay up-to-date on their latest projects, and demonstrate your interest in available opportunities. It can also be a great resource for networking. Search your college or university and reach out to alumni whose experiences you admire!
10. Sign Up for Job Sites like Indeed, Glassdoor, or Idealist
Job sites are great ways of staying informed on market trends and the types of jobs available within your field. Make sure to maintain an updated profile and resume as recruiters often reach out to potential applicants on these sites.
11. Find Out if a Company is Actually Hiring or On A Hiring Freeze
With the pandemic causing a down-turn in the economy, companies may be implementing a hiring freeze to mitigate financial stress. Reach out to a recruiter, hiring manager, or staff member and make sure the company is currently hiring!
12. Volunteer or Intern
Volunteering and interning are great additions to your resume! They can offer you insights into a desired industry and allow you to experience the day-to-day of roles within that industry. For college graduates still looking for work, internships and volunteering can be great transitional experiences to boost your skill-set, grow your network, and show employers your interest in the field.
The job market is turbulent right now, but take this time and space to explore your options, learn a cool skill, and put that solutions-oriented mindset to use!