For recent and soon-to-be college grads, this isn't the kind of job market they expected to enter after finishing their degrees. They knew getting hired wouldn't be easy. They just didn't know it would be this hard, with so many factors stacked against them.
A global pandemic? Record-high jobless claims? Unemployment rates through the roof? Layoffs, furloughs, and hiring freezes? How can college grads find a job in this kind of environment, with little to no experience?
We interviewed one of our members, Seth Kern, who was able to land a great job during COVID-19, before he even graduated from college.
Here's the advice Seth wants to give all recent and soon-to-be college grads looking to get hired during COVID-19.
1. Take Advantage Of Internship Opportunities
"I cannot stress how important it is to get yourself into an internship," says Seth. "Even if you are not sure of what you want to do yet, I truly believe that it is vital that college students take up the opportunity to seek internships before they graduate."
An internship not only provides college students with experience, but it also gives them a chance to develop skills employers will want in a potential employee.
"I have held three internships and have been exposed and done some incredible work that has built off of each other to get me where I am today. I am not sure that if I hadn't done an internship that I would be where I am already, and before even graduating!"
No matter if you just graduated from college, or have a couple more years left in school, internships are always a good idea. If you can, try to get an internship in a field you plan to go into after graduation. Getting an internship in your desired career field will make it that much easier to land a job in that career field, especially if you make some great connections.
Recent and soon-to-be college grads can underestimate the importance of "having experience" in the job search. For Seth, overcoming his "lack of experience" was the biggest challenge, despite his many internships.
"It was hard, I will be honest," says Seth. "I did get a lot of interviews and phone calls. Many liked my experience and said it was perfect for the job, but there was a lot of push back on 'not having enough years' of experience. I would say that this was the biggest challenge to overcome."
Seth also wants college grads to know they will struggle to get even just an internship during COVID-19, but that's all the more reason to try to land one. Experience is only becoming more valuable. "Just having a degree today is not even remotely enough for employers," Seth continues. "As a matter of fact, many do not even care one bit about it anymore! Today, it really comes down to experience and what you can do!"
2. Create A 30-60-90 Day Plan
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, recent and soon-to-be college grads can't forget to explain this one thing during their job interviews: how they'll deliver value on the job. How can they do that? By sharing a 30-60-90 day plan.
"Seriously! No one does this!" says Seth. "This truly could be the ONE thing that separates you from the other job candidates and gets you the job!"
It takes time for new hires to get up to speed and start adding value when they join a company. During that time, the organization is technically losing money on the employee because he/she is still learning the ropes. (It costs about 150% of your salary to onboard you!) A 30-60-90 day plan clearly shows the employer you are serious about wanting to work for them.
So, what is a 30-60-90 day plan, exactly? It's a timeline of your first three months on the job with a list of the tasks and actions you will complete during that time, as well as the goals you're setting for yourself. What will you do when you get hired? When will you do it?
For recent and soon-to-be college grads, if you make a 30-60-90 day plan for a job and present that plan during the final interview, you will definitely, without a doubt, impress the hiring manager.
It worked for Seth. It could work for you, too.
3. Be Persistent & Genuine In Your Job Search
There are many forces working against recent and soon-to-be college grads right now. It's important for them to remember to be persistent and genuine throughout their entire job search—from connecting with individuals on LinkedIn to writing cover letters to the job interview process itself.
Even though Seth landed a great job, he's still actively connecting with people on LinkedIn who work at companies he wants to work at someday. "The biggest thing I would suggest when making connections is to not ask for something up front, actually try and talk to them about maybe the field they work in or the company in general," says Seth. "I know for me, I hate it when I get connection requests from people who just want something from me and then never hear from them again. Customizing your connection requests is also important."
Another great way to stay genuine in your job search is by writing disruptive cover letters. While Seth admits not every company will read your cover letter, he still thinks it's a good idea to write one because it can help you stand out from the competition. "I think it's important that you do not put every company into that category. I think it is important to [write a disruptive cover letter] because you really just never know which company you apply to will be the one that actually takes the time to read it and give you that phone call!"
Still, you could be rejected by many, many companies even if you connect with people at those companies, write disruptive cover letters, highlight your internship experience, and create 30-60-90 day plans. Those rejections are never easy to take, but you can't become bitter or discouraged.
"I think the hardest part for me was that there were several times that I felt I had it after the first and final interviews," says Seth. "I know for certain that there were times that I was definitely one of the final candidates and they were going to choose either me and someone else. Almost every time, I made it to the end and never got the job."
For Seth, it was difficult keeping his head up and believing that something would work out. "Finding a job, I think, is one of the most stressful, emotional, and agonizing processes someone will go through and it's important to look at the bigger picture and not give up."
So, all you recent and soon-to-be college grads, keep these tips in mind as you conduct your job search during COVID-19. Many others are in the same boat as you. You are not alone. You can, and will, find a job. It may just take some time, and a little bit of grit.
"Be persistent and genuine with every opportunity you come across, even if you do not get it!" Seth exclaims. "It will happen if you do not give up! Yes, you may cry, get angry, feel like you'll never get a job or if anyone will ever hire you, but it is vital that you KEEP going every day!"
Many thanks to Seth Kern for his contributions to this article.
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