The coronavirus has some college seniors feeling like throwing in the towel on the job search before they’ve even had the chance to toss their caps at graduation. An estimated 3,898,000 people will graduate college in the United States in the 2019–2020 academic year. If you’re a graduating college senior entering into the current job market and worried about your job prospects, you’re not alone.
What was once the healthiest job market in two decades plummeted sharply during the first few months of the year, and economic experts say the decline will continue for some time. Businesses in every industry are rescinding internships and job offers, sending soon-to-be-graduates into a tailspin. Still, things aren’t as bleak as they seem.
According to the latest survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers,
59 percent of employers are honoring their offers, with 40 percent delaying start dates and 42 percent changing to virtual programs.
Of course, uncertainty will remain for most graduates as data continues to change, but the best thing a graduating college senior can do is stay positive while weathering the changes COVID-19 has brought to the workforce. Preparing now puts you a step ahead. After all, once the dust settles, the job market will likely be more competitive than ever.
As Winston Churchill once said, "Never let a good crisis go to waste." Now is the time to take immediate action to increase your long-term appeal to organizations that are hiring now and in the future. Here are seven tips to help you make the most of this challenging time.
1. Focus on what’s available
Now is not the time to hold out for that "perfect" role or wait for the responses to come pouring through. There are plenty of companies who are still hiring. Job search sites that cater specifically to college students, such as college recruiter and experience are great places to start. Handshake, which connects students and employers, currently lists 500 companies who are actively hiring students and recent graduates. Other sites, such as Candor provide live updates on companies who are hiring and those who are freezing hires. Sure, COVID-19 might cause your job search to take longer than expected, but that’s exactly why you have to keep hunting.
2. Think outside the box
You’ve got to be flexible and creative if you want to get a job these days. Think of all the ways you can apply the knowledge you learned in school and the transferable skills you’ve attained over time. You might be surprised at the number of opportunities you have that you might never have considered before. For example, if you lost a legal research internship at a big law firm, you might try helping the vulnerable in your community get through the crisis by working for a local nonprofit or a local law firm that needs help.
3. Explore your options
If your internship was rescinded, don’t despair! Instead, try one of the many available remote internships. More and more companies are adapting by going virtual. Companies such as Parker Dewey offer the chance to connect with potential employers, develop skills and gain experience through access to thousands of micro internships. Employers will admire your resourcefulness and persistence.
4. Pitch your own virtual internship
Show potential employers your proactive side by creating an internship for yourself with their company. This will take some time and creativity, but the initiative could make a great impression.
5. Find temporary employment while you look for your dream position
Companies such as Amazon, Lowe's, PepsiCo, Target and Instacart, as well as local restaurants that offer delivery or curbside pickup, are still hiring. You might not be able to get a job in your chosen field right away, but you can earn a living. And, depending on what your professional goals are, even a job outside of your planned career path might open doors. You’ll also gain real-word insights and valuable knowledge you didn’t get in school.
At the very least, it’ll show future employers that you had tenacity in the face of adversity.
6. Make your resume irresistible
Or at least make sure it’s up-to-date, customized for each job or internship you apply for, highlights your achievements and contains a compelling summary statement. A well-written resume can set you apart from the competition. To make your application materials even strong, don’t forget to include a strong cover letter.
7. Develop your networking and marketing skills
Utilize your LinkedIn profile and make a list of companies, hiring managers, recruiters, agencies, former classmates, HR managers, college advisors, professors, family friends or associates, and others who could be potential resources and connect with them. Reach out to let them know you’re looking and ask if they might have an opening or know someone who does. Try sending hiring managers and HR managers letters of intent. It could lead to a break now or in the future.