5 tips for new grads starting their job search during the COVID-19 Crisis

Preparing to graduate and hit the career world is typically stressful enough, but you may feel overwhelmed in today’s environment. You keep hearing about the unemployment numbers skyrocketing.  I know you’ve heard from friends who had already landed jobs that they are now on hold or rescinded due to the current business climate. It’s enough to make you feel like things are spinning out of your control. However, it’s critical you don’t stop your process now – especially applying and networking. So I’m going to share 5 tips you can implement now that will boost your chances of gaining employment once the business market opens back up.

Maintain contact

1, If you had already received an offer or were in the process of interviewing, it’s vital you maintain contact with the company and the person you’ve been communicating with if possible. Before you make contact, do a little research on the company. Have there been news reports about layoffs, doors closing, financial issues or manufacturing issues? Know the company landscape (which could be changing daily) before you make that first reach. Don’t focus on the status of the job, instead start by focusing on them as a person. Find out if they are safe and well. Ask if they are telecommuting and how that’s working for them. When the market shifts, you’ll be the person they remember – not for yelling or screaming at them about how unfair the situation is, but as the one who was understanding, professional and genuinely concerned as a human. Which do you think they’ll want to employ first?

Mindset Matters

2. Remember mindset is important. It’s not your fault your offer is on hold or opportunities have dried up. This isn’t a reflection on your skills or abilities. You just got caught up in a global pandemic. How’s that for a resume addition – I survived the Coronavirus 2020. Use this time to continue to improve your skills. Utilize the many companies that are offering free access to their online training. Build your web, social marketing, programming, etc… skills. Look into some gig work to add to your resume while you are home. It will be important to show you didn’t just binge Netflix of Hulu while all of this was happening. I think the ones who show they took initiative and improved themselves in a trying time will stand out to hiring managers. Volunteer somewhere if you can. Not only will you be helping someone out, you are also continuing to add skills (both professional and transferable ones) to your resume.

Don’t Get Tunnel Vision

3. Don’t limit your vision. Your ideal job might not be available for a while. Instead of letting that bum you out, use it to your advantage. Consider all the industries your skill set can be of value. Now is not the time to have limited vision. Think about the industry’s most likely to rebound the fastest once the country opens back up. Perhaps your skill set could cross into a medical field or a tech field. Maybe you were a finance major, but your skills can also work for data analytics.

Right now, it’s predicted healthcare, consumer goods, and tech will rebound the fastest. Location can be an obstacle. Now isn’t the time to limit yourself geographically. Just remember where ever you end up after graduation doesn’t have to be your forever home. This is especially true if you’re looking at companies with multiple locations. Remember, the position you land in now will position you for a future transition. Or perhaps, you find something you never thought about that excites you even more.

Networking is a must

4. Don’t stop networking. Use this time to really solidify and grow your network. Reach out to college professors, fellow students, intern managers, friends of your parents and don’t be afraid to do some cold networking either. I’ve got a whole blog post of creatively networking while self-isolating and videos too. You can find those on chelliephillips.com. Be creative and show initiative. Host an online event and invite people in your network to connect for a virtual happy hour. Not only will you be showing your creative side, you’ll also be learning tech skills you can use throughout your career. Or ask someone in your field to do a skill update and invite others to connect and learn. Not only are you providing value and some fun interaction, when you talk about it in your interviews, you’ll be the one who showed initiative throughout the crisis.

Build Your Personal Career Brand

5. Optimize and enhance. Don’t waste this time. Use it to optimize and customize your resume, online presence and marketing materials like your cover letters. If you want a proven set of guidelines, my Successfully Ever After online program, is a 30-day online course designed to teach you how to create career marketing material that makes you Get Noticed, and Get’s You Hired. I also have a new book (Get Noticed, Get Hired) that’s a great resource too.

You know when the economy turns around, you’ll be competing not only against recent graduates, but the multitude of people who have lost their jobs during the crisis. Some of them will return to their old jobs, if they reopen. Others may be making career pivots. You need to have used this time to up the quality of what you’ll be sending out and sharing with others.

Use it to grow your reach on LinkedIn. Create a content calendar and share out industry information. Make yourself a resource. I also think it’s important to be a positive light in a negative time. Everyone hears the gloom and doom when they turn on the news. If you can use your platform to share positive resources and ideas, I promise you’ll grow your reach and network during this time.  Do research on the companies you are interested in. Dive into job descriptions and nail down your keywording. Start some sample cover letters you can tweak and have ready to go in a hurry. Find a friend and practice online interviews. You can find a lot of sample questions online. Nail down your answers so you’ll be a pro when the time is right – plus you’ll know the perfect place and setting to set up for your interview too.

Use the time wisely

Right now, no one can say just how long the economic downturn will last or exactly how large the impact will be on this graduating class. The key is focusing on what you can control, not what you can’t. Using this time productively will set you apart and you’ll appear more professional and confident than those who waste it on the couch.

I’ve linked to a lot of FREE Resources available on my website in this article, but there’s more available if you’d like to check them out.



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