May & June of 2020 will forever be one of the toughest job markets to graduate into. With the unemployment rate at 15% in the US, new graduates are struggling to establish their careers in this recession.
In hopes of being inspired, we asked 14 hiring managers, “What is your best job hunting tip for new grads to get their foot in the door?”
Check out their tips below.
An exciting part of graduating from a university is tapping into the vast alumni network that is waiting for you post-graduation. Use the news of your recent graduation to connect with other alumni working in your desired field. This is something you can do remotely or at alumni events. Don’t just reach out to strangers for jobs, rather reach out for advice, make genuine connections, and ask alumni to serve as mentors, the jobs will follow!
Employers are well aware that college is a time for friends and fun just as much as it is a time for learning. But once you start the job searching process, your social media should reflect a young professional ready to start a successful career, not a rushee. Do a social media audit of yourself and delete any pictures and posts that could potentially sabotage you from getting your dream job. Even if your account is private, recruiters can find their way around this.
Don’t feel the pressure to have a full-time position the day you graduate with your degree, especially if you don’t know what you want to do. Internships are a great opportunity to try a new job without a long-term commitment. It allows you to learn and grow in a low-risk environment. Participating in an internship is also just as great as showing you what you don’t want to do as what you do want to do, allowing you to better plan for your future career.
Apply for Everything
Identify your transferable skills so that you can put your best foot forward in cover letters. Broaden your own horizons and realize what you’d be a good fit for may not be exactly in line with the title of your major. The experiences in fields we didn’t necessarily spend years working towards in school may be a valuable opportunity for growth, even if it’s just realizing that that job is not the one you want to do for long. Experience is your foot in the door.
Annie deKanter, Brand Development Manager
When jobs are scarce, it’s pivotal to differentiate yourself from other applicants. Use this downtime to cultivate a new skill that you can add to your resume. Learn how to code, earn a certification relevant to your industry, or even use e-commerce SEO to start a side business to demonstrate drive and initiative.
Help them Navigate the Storm
Based on my experience as a graduate during the previous recession, the most important piece of advice I’d give anyone job hunting in this environment is to make sure you prepare for interviews in a way that shows your clear understanding of the impact of the situation on the interviewing company’s industry. What you need to keep in mind is that the interviewing company is trying to get through this situation as best they can and they’re looking for employees to help them do that. By showing you have a strong understanding of what’s going on in this area, you’re going to best position yourself for stepping into the role that will help them navigate the storm.
Avoid the Status Quo
My general tip for job hunting for new graduates today is to veer away from the status quo, as much as possible. Unless you really want a 9 to 5 desk job, don’t settle for it because of the “stability.” The lockdowns and remote working brought on by the pandemic are opening the doors for you to explore other opportunities outside of office work. I suggest trying your hand at freelance work, entrepreneurship, or better yet, go after that passion project you’ve been holding off for a while now. This is the perfect time for you to let that take off.
Drop the traditional apply and pray jun hunting tactic and instead of answering to advertised job ads only -network your way to the job you want. Research and make a list of all the companies you consider yourself a good match for. Then reach out to the hiring managers from these companies. LinkedIn is a natural place to start such a connection. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is well-optimized and fed with references from your internship supervisors, professors, or school club colleagues. Before you strike up a conversation, have a written version of an elevator pitch ready. This will be the time to sell your skills and potential and show recruiters how working for this specific company is aligned with your chosen career path. This is a great start to building professional connections and getting onto recruiters’ radar.
Given the current situation, I would advise new grads to do volunteer work to get their foot in the door. Volunteering is a great way to show prospective employers you’re a well-rounded candidate, with the added benefit of allowing you to do something positive for the community or a non-profit group. It can also be a great way to hone your talents in the work environment and make a good impression on a potential employer, while artfully sidestepping the recruitment process.
Aaron Simmons, Test Prep Genie
New grad job seekers have one big advantage over more experienced people: most professionals will absolutely bend over backward to help them get their careers started when they ask for help. To start, forget about job titles but focus on companies doing things you’re passionate about. It really doesn’t matter what role you start in, it matters that you enjoy what the company does. When you’re happy in your work, it shows, and doors will open in every direction. Then, take initiative in networking with high-level people in these organizations via LinkedIn. Interact with their posts and reach out directly asking for advice on how they would break into the job market. The goal is to start 1:1 dialogue, and keep in mind: everybody wants to hire proactive, well-spoken & ambitious new grads.
Find a Side Hustle
My best job hunting advice during the next few months is for grads to pursue a side hustle to include on their resume. This may be anything from creating a blog to starting a podcast or positioning themselves as social media influencers via apps like Instagram and TikTok. If there are volunteer opportunities available in your community, I would also pursue whatever is within reason for you to safely help out. Employers will be interested to see this bit of experience and initiative to start something you’re passionate about, particularly if the side hustle is in the same industry you’re looking to be hired in.
Market Yourself Like a Sales Pitch
One of my biggest tips for new grads is to approach the company they are applying to with a sales mindset. Instead of focusing on what the college graduate wants – a common mistake during interviews, one must position their candidacy as something that will benefit the employer. For example: “My skills in ___ and ___ can help move your new ______ initiative forward. Your goals to improve ______ align with my experience and expertise in ____. Together, we can make an impact on your business and bottom line.”
Let Everyone Know You’re Looking
Tell everyone you know what you’re looking for – Your personal network of family, friends, and acquaintances can be your most powerful asset in your job search. Don’t be afraid to let everyone know that you’re looking for new opportunities and where your interests lie. You never know who knows who that might be able to help you out.
Look For Opportunities in Startups
Search for internship opportunities in startups. You can find such opportunities on angel.co, startup.job, etc. and start working for even a small stipend. Try to get as much experience as you can and develop necessary skills with real-life experience, even if it requires you to work in an unpaid position for some time. This worked for me when I graduated in the year 2009, just after the great recession. I joined a startup that paid me a stipend that hardly covered my living expenses. But the experience and the reference I got there helped me to get to my dream job later on.
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