Graduating college is an exciting time, but many students report anxiety in the months leading up to graduation. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has heightened this anxiety for new graduates, many of whom are transitioning to online learning and worried about the present state of the economy. Luckily, companies are continuing to hire and adapting to remote work practices.
Are you a new graduate planning to enter the workforce? Read the eight tips below to help you strategize for applying for jobs during the coronavirus pandemic:1. Cast a wide net
It’s usually in your best interest to cast a wide net instead of cherry-picking a few select jobs to which you will apply. Don’t be too selective, but do consider industries and companies that historically do well in recessions and are well suited to remote work, e.g., online education companies, video streaming services, or virtual healthcare companies.
There are numerous job search resources available to help you find great options. Websites like Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and Simply Hired can connect you with hundreds of jobs that are filtered to meet your preferences. You can also reach out to a job recruiting agency or message a job recruiter on a platform such as LinkedIn. Job recruiters receive a commission for connecting you with a job, so it’s in their best interest to help you get hired.2. Access the hidden job market
The hidden job market is a term used to describe jobs that are available but not posted online. Sometimes companies prefer to hire quietly, relying primarily on word of mouth and employee referrals. In fact, about 70 to 85 percent of people find their jobs through networking, according to a Business Insider report.
It’s important to access this hidden market by remembering your network. Because of social distancing, traditional networking events, like conferences and career fairs, have largely been canceled. However, consider that most people, like you, are stuck at home with plenty of free time on their hands. Let friends and family know you’re looking for a job, and consider introducing yourself to new people on LinkedIn. Explore companies in your area and reach out to those you particularly like–even if they don’t have job listings posted. This is the perfect time to schedule a Zoom meeting for coffee.3. Treat the “required qualifications” section as a wish list
The most intimidating part of a job listing is usually the qualifications section, which often lists these items as “required.” It’s hard for recent graduates to meet all of these expectations, which sometimes include years of experience or advanced certifications. Despite the often discouraging language, remember that the majority of applicants will not meet all of these requirements. In fact, most companies view qualifications as guidelines rather than strict rules. Treat them as a company wish list and remember that you are likely qualified as long as you meet some or most of the requirements. Don’t feel you have to meet them all to bother applying.
4. Prepare for remote work
With the world largely transitioning to remote work, at least for the present, position yourself for job success by familiarizing yourself with video conferencing technologies, creating a home workspace, and studying best practices for remote work. You can add value to your future organization’s remote work culture by, say, knowing how to run effective meetings from home, developing self-motivation and time management strategies, or learning how to troubleshoot virtual technologies. These skills will shine on your resume and cover letter, and they’ll likely impress your interviewer.5. Write a clear, concise resume
Remember: you are a recent graduate. You may have several internships, a part-time job, and a few scholarships to highlight on your resume, but avoid submitting a verbose and multi-page resume that overstates your accomplishments. Even senior employees should resist the urge to extend beyond a single page. Your resume should be easy to read and should highlight your strongest skills and most relevant experience. Use numbers whenever possible to quantify your achievements, and make sure your words are clear and concise.6. Assume you need a cover letter
As a rule of thumb, assume that you should submit a cover letter when applying to a job. A cover letter helps express your personality and differentiate you from other applicants while highlighting exactly why this company and job excite you.
A job listing might specifically request that you do not submit a cover letter. In this case, defer to the listing. If you submit a job application through an online portal and find there is no place to upload a cover letter, assume it is unwanted. Some highly technical jobs might also be disinterested in reading a cover letter. Lastly, if you don’t have time to prepare a well-written cover letter that is specific to the job and company for which you are applying (not a template), then you’re probably better off submitting just a resume.7. Avoid stressing about the interview
Interviewing can be a stressful ordeal. However, it’s critical to remember that interviewers are just people, and everyone has been in your shoes at some point. Brush up on your knowledge before an interview, but try to avoid cramming. If you “fake it” to succeed at an interview, you might not be well suited to the job and could struggle in the role. Ultimately, the purpose of an interview is to ensure that you are the right fit for the job and that the job is the right fit for you. Probe your interviewers to get a good sense of the job role, management, and company culture. Don’t forget that you have the power to accept or reject a job offer, so an interview is not one-sided.
With many workplaces closed, it’s likely your interview will be virtual. Make sure you have a stable Internet connection, a working camera and microphone, and a professional backdrop for the interview. You can even verify your setup is working through a Zoom test meeting.8. Recognize that every job is a learning experience
Your first job is unlikely to be your last job. It’s important to realize that every job is a learning experience that teaches you about yourself and your ideal work environment. Oftentimes, the jobs we dislike the most also reveal the most about the job tasks and types of management we need to succeed. That said, go into your first job with an open mind and optimistic attitude. Good luck!