Cap and gown ordered, check. Finals study schedule created. Just need to make it through these last few weeks… everything is blissful and then in what seems to be overnight, the world’s economy has turned upside down.
Questions start running through your brain. Where am I going to work? How am I going to interview and get started? Will there be a job for me when I officially graduate? Did I go into the right field?
Unfortunately, there are a lot of unknowns right now and none of us have exacting answers. These are tough times, mentally and physically! First and foremost, take a deep breath (seriously!). We all need it. Now, let’s dive into some ways we can begin to answer those questions racking your brain in an effort to shape the future and own your career path.
How do I find available jobs?
Happy to report that there are still thriving industries during these daunting times! The job search has changed drastically over the years though, so it is important to leverage a few resources.
Job posting boards. You are probably familiar with job boards like Indeed and Monster, but have you explored skill-specific or local job boards (like this Newaukee one)? Or perhaps your University job board?
Meet-Ups and other online networking events like Coffee Coworking Clubs are also great ways to learn about companies, jobs and meet new people.
Your network. Who do you know (and have a trusted relationship with), and who do they know? One of the fastest ways to get your foot in the door is through a good referral. And trust me - companies LOVE referrals. Statistically, referrals get hired more often than other applicants. Set a small outreach goal to people who are in positions or companies that you are interested in and make an introduction.
Ask experts specific questions. Professionals in your industry WANT to help you! If you send a Linkedin message or email explaining that you’re graduating and hoping for some perspective and introductions - they will likely help you. And if they don’t - it has nothing do with you! They’re probably just busy and you haven’t lost anything. It’s no risk to ask for help in a polite and professional way.
I’m graduating this May and exploring my options. As you can imagine, the job market has shifted substantially since I started my search.
I saw that you (SOMETHING SPECIFIC SO THEY KNOW THIS IS FOR THEM AND NOT SPAM).
If you have 15 minutes to connect for a video chat in the next few weeks, I’d really appreciate your advice as a new professional in FIELD.
I’m available (days, times) and can setup a (Zoom, Hangouts etc).
What do I do if I can’t find a job in my field?
Maybe working right now in your dream job truly isn’t an option. But that won’t be the case forever. Keep moving forward! Perhaps continuing in school is of interest. There are also many online learning platforms offering classes at heavily discounted pricing.
Look at adjacent industries or jobs where you might meet the people and companies who fit your dream job. The first job doesn’t have to be perfect to be a good start for you.
Think about other ways you can showcase your skills. If you’re a developer or designer, that could be a sample project or small business!
What if I don’t know what I want to do?
It happens and you have time to figure it out! Throughout your career you’ll make a lot of changes or find yourself at a proverbial forks in the road. Ask for feedback from trusted advisors about your strengths and start exploring what careers could leverage those strengths.
Look at volunteer opportunities with causes you believe in at existing non-profits or groups like Code for Milwaukee. Explore what about that work appeals to you and get some experience along the way.
Keep in mind most people do not land the first job they apply for, so keep your head up! Apply for several positions that you are interested in, and then apply to some more. Do not stop applying and interviewing until you have accepted a written job offer. Even if someone tells you an offer is "coming" or it seems like a sure thing... keep interviewing!
Be aware that many companies use software to manage their candidates, and you may not get a response on all of your applications.
Your resume plays a large role so make sure you highlight technologies, certifications, key skills, and experience related to the job description that you possess. This is your 1st impression!
What will interviewing for a job look like?
To be blunt, not “normal”. These are unprecedented times, but you can prepare for success in a few ways. Companies are maneuvering with agility to keep afloat and provide the tools and resources for their employees to still be successful AND safe. Get ready for virtual video interviews and in some cases, an unconventional onboarding. Some things to consider:
Treat every interview as if it were in-person. Dress to impress (top AND bottom!) and arrive early to navigate and tech issues.
Communicate promptly. If you have the opportunity to interview with a company – book it don’t miss it! Even if it may not be for the “dream” job. Not only will this allow you to practice your interviewing skills, but it also adds another person to your network for the future! Who knows? The role might be aligned to your goals more than you thought. Even if it’s not your dream job, interview like it is!
Bring questions for your interviewers – more than you could ever have answered in the time of the interview! Our favorite go-to: “If you were me, what would you do right away in this role to get off to the best possible start?”
Companies are focused on hiring for the value and results that you bring to them. Prepare stories and examples of how you’ve overcome challenges and achieved success. That could be in an internship, a group project, or another area of your life.
If you’re asked about something you don’t know how to do yet, don’t panic! Instead describe how you’d go about learning quickly!
Be ready with specific answers to questions like “Why are you interested in working here?”
This may take several tries! We are a large, diverse, and competitive economy. There are many people interviewing for open roles and there are many factors being considered! You are not a failure for not landing the job and the right position does exist – it sometimes takes a few practice interviews to get there. Always ask for feedback and apply that to your next interview if you can.
What will starting a job look like?
Certainly different than what you likely imagined on your first day of college! It is going to be ok. There are some amazing technological advances that have made telecommuting possible. Some things that might make this an easier transition:
You may be starting your career from your home. Set up a space that is dedicated to working. From experience, we’ve found that leaving the bed helps! Talk to your new employer about what things you’ll need to get started.
Explore ways you can get connected to other co-workers and your new company like Employee Resource Groups, the company’s instant messaging/ virtual meeting technologies, or maybe an Intranet!
Don’t understand something or need information? Speak up in a professional way. Know your “why” and maybe bring forth a solution to go along with your question. Consider your role, your audience, the time and communication platform, and the consequences. For example - when you bring questions to your 1:1 with your manager, include what steps you’ve already taken to try to find the info such as checking on the intranet.
Do note that this remote work situation is new for many organizations. Show patience with your new team as they help you navigate your new role in this new world!
What else should I know as a 2020 graduate?
This will look different for everyone and that is the (not new) norm. Try a variety of approaches and network with as many people as you can. Start exploring! This is an incredible opportunity to experiment and try new things.
In our own careers, small connections or things we thought “failed” at the time have resulted in connections and wins even years later. This will someday be a memory that taught you how to keep moving forward.
We see you. We know this isn’t the graduation you envisioned. But we promise that even if you don’t land the dream job right now, your 40-year career WILL NOT be forever marred by this one summer!