7 Job-Hunting Tips for Students Starting Out In a Recession

Graduating from college and securing your first professional job can be daunting under the best of circumstances. With the COVID-19 pandemic and record levels of unemployment, the challenge is that much harder. It’s important to think of your job search as a marathon and not a sprint. Fortunately, there are things you can do to increase your chances of landing a job.  

Here are seven timely tips to help your students maximize their chances of getting a post-graduation job in today’s job market.

1.   Polish your paperwork

With jobs at a premium, make sure your resume and cover letter make the best possible first impression. No typos. No misspelled words or grammatical issues. Before you write your cover letter, research the company you’re interested in and customize your material to speak to the specific role you’re applying for. Showing that you put in the effort to do your homework can separate you from the pack and improve your odds of getting an interview.

2.   Practice makes perfect

Once upon a time, college seniors applying for a job had in-person interviews with prospective employers. Because of coronavirus, those days are gone, at least for the immediate future. Hiring managers will be conducting interviews over the phone and via video, so it’s important to make the most of these mediums. First, come up with a short list of key selling points you want to get across. Then try role-playing and practicing mock interviews with a friend or family member. One advantage of having a phone interview is that you can have a cheat sheet of notes in front of you — or pulled up on-screen if the interview is by video.

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3.   Build your network

Your mom’s best friend works in a marketing department. Your next door neighbor is a social worker. The couple you babysat for all through high school are both in information technology. Job connections are all around you. The trick is to tap into your network. Start by reaching out to family and friends who may be able to offer leads. Then make a list of people you feel comfortable approaching — professors, previous bosses, mentors — and let them know you’re looking for a job. And if you haven’t done so already, be sure to make yourself known to your school’s career center. Along with the job information they have, they may also be able to connect you with alumni in your field who would be willing to meet with you via phone or video.

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4.   Go all in on LinkedIn

Start by making sure your LinkedIn profile is concise and up-to-date, conveying your message and highlighting your skills  — and don’t be afraid to reach out and ask questions. Use the “Jobs” tab to search available postings, set job alerts and use the interview prep resource. If you find a job opportunity, in many cases you can apply right through LinkedIn, even uploading your resume.  

5.   Lock down your social media

More and more, prospective employers are looking at social media accounts to see if a potential employee would be a good fit for their team — or if any red flags are raised. Take some time to comb through your digital footprint — Facebook, Instagram, Twitter — and clean up or delete any cringe-worthy posts or photos you wouldn’t want a job recruiter to see. You can also update your privacy settings to limit who can view what.

6.   Search, search, search

Job aggregator websites pull available jobs from thousands of sources. Indeed, SimplyHired, Careerjet, Monster, Glassdoor and ZipRecruiter are just some of the many job aggregator sites available today. Create your profile, select the types of jobs you’re interested in and set notification alarms. But don’t stop there. You should also check the career sections on corporate websites, as well as local and regional government agency websites. Visit your college job boards, as well. New jobs post frequently, so check back often.

7.   Finish up with the follow up

Whether it’s a connection on LinkedIn that meets you for a virtual chat or a job interview with a prospective employer, follow up to say thank you. It can be as simple as a well-crafted email or more personal, like a hand-written thank you card. Whichever route you choose, following up shows the recipient that you appreciated them making time for you — and it gives you another chance to have your name in front of them. Don’t forget to include your contact information. 

Looking for additional help? Our student support resource page has an entire section dedicated to career support. Here, you’ll find a series of career resource videos — each spotlighting a different career resource. Plus a variety of downloadable handouts, worksheets and other tools.

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