Graduating During a Pandemic
You’ve done it!
Graduating is an exciting time in your life as you close one chapter and start the next.
However, it’s also a time when you might be getting a little nervous and start doubting yourself as it is now time to use all those things you’ve learned and land your first “real” job. You might also feel you’re about to navigate an unknown chapter with minimal or no direction. And doing this all during a pandemic? Well, that’s even scarier!
As graduation time is fast approaching, I wanted to share some practical tips with you to ease the stress you’re probably feeling right now.
Your first job isn’t your forever job!
Of course, you want to get your career off to a great start, but it’s okay if your first job isn’t exactly what you expected to be doing. Every job is a stepping stone to your next opportunity and no job is a forever job anyway, so enjoy the process! For example, I worked for CIBC at a call center for over a year and then started casually networking with HR departments until I found someone to give me my first opportunity in recruitment. (Thank you, David!)
If you are struggling to find entry-level options in your first career choice, think about searching for a part-time volunteer role that may give you some valuable skills while you continue your search.
It’s important to be realistic and keep in mind that it may be overly ambitious to expect to land a job in your desired field right away, especially, if you have minimal relevant experience —But anything is possible!
Focus on developing new skills
Once you have an idea of the type of job you are looking for, you can pull up a few job descriptions and take note of the specific skills that are being asked for. If there are required or desired skills keep showing up in the job descriptions, and it’s something you don’t have, consider searching online for relevant courses so you can close that skill gap.
Bonus: there are a lot of sites offering massive course discounts because of the pandemic.
Don’t get stuck on the salary
You may be graduating with student debt and of course, the cost of living only goes up! However, I would still recommend not being fixed on one number.
Real Talk: a difference of $5k in an annual salary isn’t that big of a difference on your paycheque.
Your competition may be looking for a higher income and by being open to an entry-level salary that ends up being your competitive advantage. It really does come down to fit anyway, so once you start landing interviews and can articulate yourself well, your minimal experience may not be as important.
By the way, if you want some interview advice, download my FREE Ace Your Interview workbook.
Utilize your school’s Career Coaching services
If you are lucky enough to be enrolled in a school that offers Career Coaching services – use them! They may give you some quick and effective tips that you wouldn’t have thought of on your own.
Even if it’s just a few suggestions that are as simple as making a few tweaks to your resume, which can help you land more interviews or how to optimize your LinkedIn profile so recruiters can find you, these resources are set up to help you and you’ve already paid for them with your tuition dollars so definitely make use of them.
Network. Network. Network.
When it comes to networking, it doesn’t have to be on a huge scale. Start with your inner circle, which is likely more people than you even realize. Think about friends, aunts, uncles, people you have met at your yoga studio, etc. Start spreading the word that you are on the market and ready to put yourself out there.
And of course, before you start networking, you want to make sure that you have your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile ready to go.
LinkedIn is especially important as you will be using this platform to reach out to people if you don’t have their email address. When sending out messages on LinkedIn, you want to make sure you that you remember the following when you craft your message:
Do not ask for a job, instead seek information.
Humble them, mention what intrigues you about their profile, whether it’s the industry they are working in or the job they have and how it aligns with your career inspirations.
Have a call of action, such as requesting a 10 min call/video meeting
Don’t feel discouraged if you don’t hear back or they decline.
Be True to YOU
We’ve all made decisions that weren’t solely based on our own opinions. It could be based on expectations from family, friends, society, and so on. The point is it wasn’t based solely on what you truly wanted.
Real Talk: If you choose a career path for other people and not for yourself, you risk having a career that doesn’t make you happy for the rest of your life —Seriously!
So, you want to make sure you get really clear on your career goals and if you aren’t sure what they are just yet, that’s okay too. Give yourself some time, start looking for entry-level jobs. I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the ideas that will come to you when you begin to follow your own aspirations.
If you are looking for more tips on how to land ideal work after graduation, check out my FREE webinar, on-demand, Netflix style.
Jen Narayan, Career Consultant