There are more than 3 million new college undergrads who just hit the job market. If you’re among them, it’s an unfortunate time to be looking for your first post-college job. Researchers who have studied the careers of those who entered weak job markets in the past indicate it could take ten years or more for this year’s college graduates to recover from our current economic conditions.
It’s not all doom-and-gloom, though. There are job opportunities out there—some in areas you have yet to explore—if you’re willing to get creative and spend your job search time wisely.
You have a valuable resource in Millennials who graduated in the years surrounding the 2008 recession. Building a career from the ground-up was difficult for them, too. They learned how useful online resources and social networking could be. Lucky for you, those tools are still helpful (especially now, when in-person networking isn’t possible).
Alexa Shoen is among these Millennials and is author of the new book #ENTRYLEVELBOSS: How to Get Any Job You Want. “It might feel tempting to cocoon and cross your fingers and wait until it’s all over — but we don’t know when exactly when ‘over’ is coming yet,” Shoen says. Her advice is to:
- Increase your chances of being referred to that 70-80 % of jobs that don’t get advertised by emailing and connecting online with people you know—or want to know—who may be in key power positions.
- Polish your online presence. That doesn’t mean to hide everything you’ve ever posted, though. “People will be turning to your online presence to get a better understanding of who you are and what you’re about,” she explains. “The key is to go a step beyond just ‘hiding’ your personal life…Think, instead, about how you can impress them with your online presence. What if you did a series of interviews with senior people in your field and wrote about what you learned on LinkedIn?”
Take a look at these additional tips by The HT Group Executive Advisor Stephanie Samuels as well. Some of the advice she gives to executive-level job seekers can be great moves for you to make, too. Join Toastmasters, participate in professional podcasts, do whatever you can to “get out there” virtually, and let your strengths shine.
Set yourself up for success
Here’s what we know: Your first impression right now is digital. You’ll be initially screened for jobs from afar for the unforeseen future. We also know that work-from-home will be a reality for many college grads, like it or not. Before the pandemic hit, 80% of employers admitted they did not have a remote-work program in place. Now, only one-third of employers expect their workers to return to the office full time once normal operations commence. And, finally, we know first-hand that employers who are hiring right now are in positions to hand-select job candidates with precisely the right skills and experience for their positions. Holes in your skillset could be huge liabilities.
Given these truths, you can increase your chances of job success by:
- Learning how to pass phone screens and virtual interviews with flying colors. Interviewing over the phone or via video conference is very different from in-person interviewing. In many ways, it’s much more difficult in that it’s hard to make a connection and make a good first impression. Study up on best practices so that these screening processes don’t become blockades for your career.
- Becoming efficient and reliable working from home. Follow these tips we compiled to help you become a work-from-home genius. Throughout the interview process, you can prove that you’re set up for success with great technology, discipline, and organizational skills and that hiring you for remote work will be a smart move.
- Getting certifications and taking additional courses that might give you a leg up. We know that going back to school might not sound fun, but grabbing some extra skills could look great on your resume. If you’re hoping to break into sales, for instance, consider completing courses like Challenger Sales, Spin Selling, or Sandler Training. If you’re an entry-level IT professional, consider these ten certifications to jump-start your career like a Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) or a CompTIA A+ designation.
Explore related fields that are doing well
Finding a job in travel and hospitality, oil and gas, or another struggling industry right now may not be in the cards. Be flexible. Open your eyes to available opportunities, and you may discover an industry or job you never considered before. Maybe now’s the time to learn more about drone technology, manufacturing and supply chain logistics, biotech, or any number of other industries that are in demand and looking for bright young minds.
Take a look at these thriving companies for inspiration and follow the trends. While in-person gym chains and sporting events are struggling, for instance, Peloton has recovered dramatically from its holiday ad fail by growing revenue 66% during the first part of 2020. How? Everyone’s working out at home right now.
Beware of fake jobs and other scams like those involving student loan relief that are targeting new graduates right now, though. Be sure to carefully research companies and consider working through a reputable recruiter to help avoid being scammed.
Temporary jobs and contract work could be a great way to try different positions and companies. It’s a win-win for you and for employers who need a contingent workforce that can evolve with changes quickly. And unlike what you might think of temporary jobs, working through a staffing firm like The HT Group can come with health benefits and other perks.
Be proud of your accomplishments, and take a deep breath. You’re not the first class to graduate in a poor job market. Learn from those who came before you and built up remarkable careers in the face of extreme challenges. Use the online tools and networking opportunities you have. And show that you’re a job candidate who “gets it” for employers who are hiring right now. We’re rooting for you!
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