Times are tough. The COVID-19 pandemic and its cascading consequences have turned the job market into a precarious landscape. Many industries have been deeply shaken, leaving people out of work and making companies hesitant to hire.
Students of the class of 2020 find themselves traversing a terrain where nothing feels stable. Many new graduates have had internship offers rescinded or job opportunities disappear.
How does a job seeker find an internship or entry-level job under these unprecedented circumstances? It helps to know what you’re looking for, how to look for it, and how to make yourself stand out. Here are 5 tips for landing on your feet and finding an entry-level job.
It’s true that many industries have suffered in the wake of COVID-19. However, there are many that have found ways to pivot and face the crisis in front of them.
Use the internet resources at your disposal to search for industries staying afloat and firms pivoting successfully. Sign up for job boards and talent communities that connect job seekers with employment opportunities. Learn who’s succeeding, why they’re succeeding, and how you can be a part of that success. Create a list of companies that are still hiring for entry-level jobs or internships. An industry-focused search will help you avoid spreading yourself too thin.
You’ve decided where to focus your search. Nice work! The next step is determining what value you bring to a potential employer. Even if you just graduated, there are reasons to hire you beyond your degree.
Take a look at your resume. What past experiences, part-time jobs, volunteer work, or extracurricular activities are relevant to the field you want to work in? If you still don’t know what sector is right for you, you can work backwards. In other words, what skills have you built so far, and in which industries can you apply those skills? Highlight these experiences in a resume tailored for each job posting.
No one likes to do it. Everyone has to do it. Even in a pandemic, networking rears its head, but in virtual form. If you’re one of the many job seekers who are uncomfortable with in-person networking, this is your time to shine.
Use phone, email, or social media sites. Reach out to your school’s alumni, past employers, mentors, friends, and family. Don’t just ask about internship advice. Schedule informational interviews via phone or video conference with professionals in fields of interest. Everyone has a lot on their plate, so be considerate of people’s time. Come to remote informational interviews prepared with questions. Ask interviewers how they got started in their field, what skills are needed for their work, or how they’re responding to these unprecedented times. Remember to be courteous, follow-up via email, and, especially in these times, say thank you.
Unprecedented times call for unexpected solutions. While it’s great to know which industry you’d like to work in, be open to opportunities outside your field of interest. Whether it’s service work, a temp position, or an odd suggestion from a family friend, don’t discount an opportunity at face value. If it builds any transferable skills, consider it.
Thinking outside the box when searching for a job is important for two big reasons. First, finding your dream internship or entry-level position isn’t a straight line path. While it’s important to have industry-specific career interests, getting your foot in the door is paramount. By considering a variety of options, you open up new avenues that could lead to that entry-level job.
Second, as long as you’re learning and growing, almost any experience is good experience. Every skill you learn and problem you solve is another tool in your belt. This holds true for online classes and boot camps as well. A coding boot camp or a part-time job posting might open up the career path you’ve been searching for. Open your mind to the possibilities!
It never hurts to reach out to whomever you can when searching for a job, but prepare to get ghosted. In the midst of COVID-19, working professionals have a lot of problems to solve. Many people simply don’t have the time to reply to every job seeker asking for a resume review or internship advice.
It hurts to have an application rejected or an email ignored. As time goes on, and rejections pile up, it’s easy to become discouraged. You may think you’ll never find that entry-level job. But always remember: it takes just one good interview, one impressed recruiter, one high school friend doing you a solid, and you’ve found yourself your first position. Opportunity knocks at odd hours. Stay awake to answer the door!
Finding an internship or entry-level position in any job market requires hard work, resourcefulness, and a little luck. In these uncertain times, new graduates face unprecedented challenges. However, if you understand the terrain, develop your skillset, and consider a range of options, you’ll find that opportunity. It’s not going to happen in a day, but it’ll happen. Believe it!
To get started finding a great entry-level job or internship, check out iHire’s 56 industry-focused talent communities.