College grads: how to get your first job during a pandemic

You graduated from college, congrats! You’re now ready to go out into the world and get your first job. The only problem is that, well, due to current circumstances, the economy, job market, and world, in general, might seem like it’s not ready for you. Don’t get down though, because there are job openings and people hiring every day! While it may look a little different than expected, there are still ways to get your first job during a pandemic.

Be Open

It’s easy to set your sights on a very specific job. But you might run into the issues that in reality, there are more obstacles than you thought necessary to get to it. Apart from the current situation, you might not have the years of experience required or the company you want to work for might not have a roll open for you. Rather than focus on the hypothetical or not-yet-reachable, focus on the now and pay attention to companies that are hiring. Building your resume includes getting experience no matter where you get it and knowing that your expectations might be limiting your chances of getting a job so great you’re not even paying attention to from the start will hinder you from future opportunities that arise. Any work experience you get now can help you become a more interesting and appealing candidate when the time comes for you to get that job you’ve been dreaming about. At this phase of your career, it’s all about learning so learn in any way, anywhere you can!

Focus on your skillset, not your job

Rather than let the title of your job or where you’re working guide you, focus more on the skills that you have gained to direct you to your next job application. Say you get a degree in finance and you think your next step is to work at a bank or consulting firm. With the state that we are in, try focusing more on the skills that you have, such as mathematical and analytical skills, and shoot for jobs that also utilize those skills. The job that you get is rarely a forever job so take advantage of opportunities that help build on your current skills rather than worrying about the exact kind of job or role you’re starting off with.

Network

One of the most important skills to take advantage of through your career and even outside of work is networking. Instead of applying for jobs on end, remember that the amount of your efforts can be multiplied with every person you meet. Networking doesn’t just mean in person. With the social networking scene, you have a wide variety of networks at your fingertips. Post on your Linkedin, share in specific Facebook community groups, follow a specific hashtag on Instagram. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your network, it is the best source of job searching you can do. Just mentioning that you are on the job hunt to anyone can plant a seed that will grow much more than you could ever think of. Think about if the role was switched, you’d love to help someone that is looking for a job! 

Build your online presence

While a nice looking Instagram or Pinterest board might suit your fancy, make sure the most important parts of your online presence such as your LinkedIn or Facebook profile or ready for recruiters and professionals looking at it. You want to give the most encompassing yet professional version of yourself on social media so that when people consider your application, your online presence matches. If you have work you want to show off, focus on building a great portfolio and beautiful website to really show off all the things you can do no matter how big or small the project is. So many things including job recruiting have turned virtual now so reflect who you are in your online presence for interviews and career-building down the road. 

Persevere

Amidst the current pandemic, truthfully it can be disheartening after what seems like endless applications not going through, not hearing back, or rejection after rejection. As a recent college grad, don’t feel the world before you is not available to you. It might look different and it might be tempting to give up, but don’t let that tenacity go. Whenever you stop applying that means someone else might have the opportunity to take that role. Know that it is a difficult time to apply for jobs but it’s not impossible to get hired. If you’ve been applying for jobs without any luck, give yourself a mental health break, take a weekend trip, go out for a meal, and regroup so that you’re applying efficiently and effectively. It’s rare to get the first job you apply for. It’s much more common to apply for dozens or hundreds of jobs, don’t lose hope because you will get one!

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