By Jim LeFevre, Senior Director of Marketing, Public Interest Registry
You toss your cap in the air, celebrate with friends and family, and face your bright future. It’s college graduation—time to put your knowledge to good use in the workforce. But what if a pandemic commences along with your commencement? This past May, COVID-19 went viral, and graduations went virtual. Instead of moving on, grads had to pack up and move home, some toting thousands in student debt along with their diplomas. To help with that, the government has temporarily frozen student loan payments, which you can learn about here. Still, for many 2020 graduates, elation has been replaced with trepidation.
The class of 2020 started its senior year in a robust economy. By spring, four million new graduates entered the worst jobs market since the Great Depression due to impacts from coronavirus. According to the Pew Research Center, www.pewresearch.org, the unemployment rate in May hovered around 20% or higher. While the overall rate has dropped since then, 13.5% of people between the ages of 16 and 24 are currently unemployed. It can be daunting for job hunters to stay positive and engaged as the pandemic continues and so many companies and organizations are forced to make cuts and freeze hiring.
According to an article in the Harvard Business Review (HBR), www.hbr.org, “Patience is going to be key” to getting a job during the pandemic. Luckily, there also are concrete steps recent grads can take to maximize the time they spend looking for work and improve their chances.
American basketball player and coach John Wooden said, “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” So, 2020 grads: never stop learning. One great way to do this is to visit www.learnhowtobecome.org, a one-stop-shop for career training and advice, with everything from the best industries for those with a liberal arts degree, to internship and apprenticeship information, to help with choosing a green career. Another important way to stay sharp is to assess whether your CV is up to par and study best practices for getting hired in the current environment. This article from the HBR, www.hbr.org, offers tips on how to write a killer resume, while this HBR piece gives practical advice for getting a job during an economic downturn. For those pursuing science, this piece in www.sciencemag.org provides practical advice.
Nurture Your Network
Connecting is key to building a career, but it’s made more challenging due to social distancing restrictions. One way around that is to take your networking online by joining a professional organization. There are many to choose from; here are a few to get you started 1) social Media Club (SMC) www.socialmediaclub.org helps increase digital media literacy, suited for those starting out in any profession, 2) for those interested in communications careers, membership in the National Communication Association, www.natcom.org, offers networking opportunities, conventions, and a subscription to their association journal, and 3), the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG), www.acg.org, offers industry insights, chapter events, and an annual national conference for business-minded grads.
Contribute to the Community
So, you’re learning new skills, retooling your resume, and making connections in your field. And yet, there are 24 hours in a day and you still have many left over. This is a win-win for both those in need of a job and those in need. While it isn’t paid, there is much work to be done in the volunteer sector. Many local organizations, food banks, or charities are overwhelmed with the demand for their services during the coronavirus crisis . Not only will lending a hand give shape to your schedule, but it will also give you hands-on experience that could lead to a job. In fact, according to Nonprofit Quarterly, www.nonprofitquarterly.org, those who volunteer have a 27% increased chance of employment!
The search for work can be long, disheartening, and sometimes lonely. That’s why, in addition to the ideas listed above, research shows time spent finding a mentor is time well spent. According to www.mentoring.org, students who have mentors who “encouraged them to pursue their goals and dreams,” are twice as likely to be working. While some graduates find mentors through former professors, friends, or family members, many need to create those relationships. This article in www.idealist.org can help get you started.
While we’ve shared a number of things you can do to make the most of your career search during a pandemic, the most important thing to remember is to not lose heart, 2020 grads. This too shall pass and, before it does, hopefully you’ll have a job, especially if you follow these tips. Good luck and happy job hunting from PIR.