Today’s college graduates are entering one of the best job markets in the nation’s history… Hold up. Rewind. Well that is what I would have said, and did say, six months ago. Then suddenly, we are in the grasp of the Coronavirus pandemic and HBCU campuses are locking down. That means that career fairs, on campus interviews and commencement ceremonies were cancelled while HR departments were scrapping their hiring plans. In just a few months, US unemployment rates spiked from under 4% to above 14% and 44 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits.
New grads found themselves job searching during Coronavirus in a competitive marketplace and wondering which job search paradigms would still work for them. Despite the workforce uncertainty, the basic elements of the job search including a strong resume, good job interview skills and consistent follow up are still required. However, new grads need to be thinking embracing a rapid paradigm shift needed for a successful job search now.
During Coronavirus new grads who are job searching should be:
Finding work experience anywhere, anyhow.
Be open to finding job roles that might not look like long term right now. No matter the job duties, you will be building your work muscles and you never know what opportunities could result from the experience. The concepts of having several employers and several different careers, not just jobs, during a lifetime, is a reality that new job seekers need to understand and embrace right now. That’s where the future of work is headed and HBCU grads have to get onboard.
Focusing on improving and using digital skills.
Technology is playing a significant part in this paradigm shift for new grad job seekers during the Coronavirus. Companies are increasingly using artificial intelligence technology in their talent acquisition strategy, incorporating virtual hiring techniques and teleworking, for now, is a new norm. Research these changes and build your own digital skills rapidly. Yes, your degree matters, but right now, the sooner you can build technology skills that allow you to be productive remotely, the more marketable you will be. Check out training resources like LinkedIn, Professional Associations or MOOCs.
Showing off your transferable skills.
Everything you bring in terms of your skills and abilities should be on the table right now. You might be surprised as what skills you have that an employer might need. Do not discard anything you have done either at work or in your personal life to build the skills you have right now. Skills like leadership, teamwork, decision making, analysis and problem solving are in high demand. Also, don’t assume that you need to have 100% of everything listed in the job vacancy announcement to be successful in a new job. Think through the good stories that will help recruiters connect your skills and abilities to their needs.
Reaching out to your network.
Yes. You are responsible for your own job search, but your network can play a role by telling you about opportunities and maybe even getting your name in the right place. Your mentors can be invaluable in helping you make decisions and setting a direction in these times which might be confusing for new grads. Your network must include the campus career center. Even if your campus is closed, the career center staff is available. Reach out!