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Job Searching During A Pandemic



This year’s graduates will be heading out into a strange new world. College-bound high school grads will be wondering if they’ll be moving to an actual college campus later this summer, or if they’ll remain at home, continuing to handle their academics online. College graduates will be heading out into a dramatically changed “real world,” seeking employment or hoping to hold onto the internships they secured before the COVID-19 crisis hit.

In reading comments by parents on the College Confidential discussion forum, I’ve seen the pandemic realities set in. Upcoming summer internships are being canceled for college students and high schoolers. Job offers formerly extended to graduating college seniors are being withdrawn and, in many cases, the main reason is, “We’re just not sure what’s going to happen.” Uncertainty can sometimes be more stressful than bad news.

In trying to get some perspective about the current job market and job search situation for college graduates, I found two articles that offer practical insights. First, NPR’s Graduating In A Pandemic: Advice For The Anxious Post-College Job Search has some specific advice for the Class of 2020. Next, ForbesHow Soon-To-Be College Graduates Can Job Hunt During The Coronavirus Outbreak provides look-ahead strategies for pending grads.

Uncertainty Reigns

The uncertainty factor is a most perplexing element for graduates. At this point, there doesn’t appear to be any consistency in which states, or even specific regions within states, will “reopen” in the near future. Some states, like Georgia and South Carolina, are making relatively major efforts to get their economies back on track, providing some job hunters with the expectation that positions will be available soon.

Uncertainty centers around the fact that graduates targeting specific areas of the country may not be able to land their intended jobs because their states don’t have a scheduled date for reopening. Grads may have to take an “any port in a storm” approach and commit to an offer anywhere just to have work, thus passing up opportunities that may open up later in their preferred regions. As with many things in life, timing is everything, for better or worse.

Flexibility is a key mindset that grads should keep in mind. NPR notes Kamla Charles’ advice about that:

“In your mind, when you major in something, you feel like this major specifically fits just that area,” says Kamla Charles, coordinator of employer relations at Valencia College in Florida. But she says the skills you’re learning within your major are giving you a foundation. The experiences and opportunities you take advantage of will ultimately shape your career pathway, more than what you majored in. “Be flexible in exploring other industries that are thriving right now, like technology and online platforms,” she says. Think: “How can you pivot in this time and use the skills that they’ve learned, but just applying them in a new way?”

The analogy that occurs to me is that of a running back on a football team. Did you ever notice how the great backs go down the field? They don’t merely run as fast as they can. They surge then slow, giving themselves the “flexibility” to follow their blockers, dart through openings and avoid tacklers. Job seekers who are focused full-speed on one discipline, one state or one city aren’t maximizing their chances because of straight-line thinking. Negotiating changing circumstances is a lot like dodging tacklers.

Interviewing Takes New Shape

Interviewing has always been a challenge, even during “normal” times. Many companies are now operating with minimal onsite staff and a significant number of key personnel working from home. Making a strong interview impression can be difficult. The main tools of remote contact — Zoom, FaceTime and other applications — lack the face-to-face advantages that allow candidates and interviewers to observe physical cues such as body language and eye contact. The good news is that, like TV news anchors, you only have to look good from the waist up, opening the door for unseen, relaxed pajamas-bottoms comfort “south of the border.”

Forbes writer Jack Kelly offers some advice about Internet interviews:

With phone interviews, you can’t see the interviewer or the office. You’ll miss out on social cues, which will tell you that they liked or disliked how you answered a question. Without seeing the office, you won’t gain a feel of the place, people and culture. In person, you may see some sports memorabilia and learn that you share a similar passion for a team, which is a great icebreaker.

Recent graduates may not feel as comfortable on the phone as Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers. You should practice conducting mock phone interviews. One of the benefits of a phone interview is that you can write notes and keep them in front of you while talking. It will keep you focused, on topic and offer a training-wheels assurance.

Video interviews offer a close resemblance to an in-person meeting. You may have conducted enough FaceTime conversations that you’re more comfortable with this mode of interaction. It will be easy to fall back into an informal tone as that’s what you’re used to. Remember that this is an interview and you need to keep it professional

I’ve been through a number of recessionary periods and have experienced being one of a cast of thousands competing for a job opening. The key, in my view, is making yourself stand out from the crowd. That a cliche, I know, but with the power of the internet, you can come into an interview loaded with unique appeal. How do you do that?

Another analogy is that a job interview is much like a college admissions interview, where you’re applying for a “job” as a member of a particular college’s student body. The key is to know much about the school where you want to go. Digging out small but significant points about not only the school, but also the specific area in which you want to study, displays focus and passion. The same thing applies to job interviews. Research the company and impress your interviewer with deep insights:

“I see that Raytheon has responded to the DOD’s RFP for fast Fourier transform development. I wrote a paper on FFTs my senior year.” I can almost guarantee that no other candidate will say something more impressive than that. Dig deep into your interviewer’s company and stand out. As Kamla Charles says:

Tailor your experience. “Now is not the time to be submitting generic materials for hundreds and hundreds of opportunities,” Peltz says. Instead, he says, you’ve got to set yourself apart and be creative in how you sell yourself to prospective employers. “Candidates need to really tailor their materials and message as to why they’re a good fit and why they’re interested in that particular opportunity. Employers don’t want to hire somebody just looking for a job. They want to hire somebody who’s looking for their job.”

Explain how your engineering (or whatever) major work in college gave you hands-on experience with FFT algorithms (or whatever that company’s product or service is). If you are, in fact, conducting your interview remotely, be aware of your eyes’ power to convey enthusiasm, sincerity and intensity. I found it helpful to speak in front of a mirror to see how I look when trying to be persuasive. Be sure to remove your mask before you practice!

Don’t Expect Quick Job Results

Finally, Kelly advises about an obvious reality:

In light of the stock market correction, continued fears over COVID-19 and a weakened economy, your job search may take longer than the graduates of years past. You will have to develop a thick skin. You need to stay mentally and emotionally strong. It’s understandable to feel badly that after working so hard and incurring large sums in college debt, you now have to face a once-in-a-generation difficult job market.

Temper your expectations so that you won’t get disappointed if this takes a long time. Given the disruptions at companies, it’s likely that you won’t often hear back from them. The interview process will be clunky as companies are primarily focused on looking after their employees and figuring out how to navigate this tough time period

These cautions apply even when there’s no pandemic. Adjust your thinking, timeline and expectations. In the spirit of exhortation, then, I’ll leave you with that famous, if not redundant, encouragement from Winston Churchill: “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.” Thus, stay true to your conviction for success — and don’t give up!


By: Dave Berry
Title: Job Searching During A Pandemic
Sourced From:
Published Date: Thu, 23 Apr 2020 15:07:03 +0000


A Guide From

Recent college graduates face a tough job market : Here are your options

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment has soared this year. As of October 2020, almost 11.1 million Americans were jobless, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Even more have been furloughed or seen their hours cut.

But the health crisis isn’t just hurting those already in the workforce. According to new data, recent college grads are suffering, too. A June poll from the National Association of Colleges and Employers showed that about 8 percent of companies were planning to or had already revoked job offers to class of 2020 graduates.

Grads who do see their offers revoked are thrown back into the job market — the nation’s worst in more than a decade. Those with federal student loans also face mounting financial pressure, especially as their six-month payment grace periods start to run out.

Navigating the job market in 2020

Fortunately, not all hope is lost. Though finding a job in today’s flailing market is certainly challenging, there are still employment options out there. If you’re one of the many 2020 graduates on the hunt for one, this guide can help.

Not all industries have been hit the same by the pandemic. The hospitality and leisure industry, for example, took one one of the biggest blows. Since the start of the outbreak, the sector has lost 3.5 million jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Retail has also taken a beating, and while the employment in retail trade has risen by 1.9 million since April, it’s still 499,000 below what it was in February. The transportation industry has also seen steep losses, largely due to waning travel and tourism.

It’s not all bad news, though. Many industries have actually expanded in recent months, and focusing your job search in these sectors may help to make the job search easier.

The health and family care sectors are just a few of such thriving industries. Health care employment and social assistance jobs increased by 79,000 in October, while child care, family services and private education saw notable upticks as well. Here’s a quick look at some of the best- and worst-performing industries during the most recent months of the pandemic.

Industries going strong in recent months:

  • Health care.
  • Manufacturing.
  • Real estate.
  • Finance and insurance.
  • Construction.
  • Professional and technical services.
  • Employment services.

Industries hit hard in recent months:

  • Airlines and transportation.
  • Oil and gas.
  • Telecommunications.
  • Educational services.
  • Government.

Shifting your focus to some of these stronger markets might lead to more opportunities. You should also consider looking outside your geographic area. Since many companies are now operating remotely, you may be eligible for positions in other states or even other countries. Check out remote-specific job boards like FlexJobs and for potential options.

Tips for getting through financial hard times

Even if you do hone your job search and look toward more thriving sectors, there’s still a chance that employment won’t come easy. If that’s the case, you’ll need to get creative in how you manage your finances until things turn around. The below tips can help.

Look for lower-cost housing

If mom and dad are up for it, you might consider moving in with your parents for a while — at least until the pandemic blows over. You’ll save big on housing costs, and you can also take advantage of the rent-free time to save aggressively. This will ensure that you’re ready to put down that security deposit (or down payment) as soon as you’ve locked in a job.

If moving home isn’t an option or your family needs financial help, too, you can:

  • Talk to your landlord or property manager. You may be able to get on a payment plan or defer your payments for a certain period of time.
  • Look for housing assistance. Many states and municipalities offer rent and housing payment assistance for residents in need.
  • Consider adding a roommate. If you can add another person or two, you can cut your housing costs drastically — not to mention your utility bills.

Depending on your household’s income level, you may also qualify for Section 8 housing. This usually requires just 30 percent of your income.

Take on a side gig or part-time job

Food delivery services like DoorDash, Uber Eats and other similar apps have exploded thanks to stay-at-home orders. The same is true for grocery delivery services, like Instacart and Shipt.

Some other potential side gigs include:

  • Dog walking.
  • Housesitting.
  • Mowing lawns.
  • Babysitting or nannying.

Though these gigs don’t come with massive salaries, they can help you stay afloat during difficult times. They’re also pretty flexible schedule-wise, which is helpful in case you line up an interview.

Get serious about cutting corners

Keeping your costs low is critical if you’re not bringing in much income. You’ll want to reduce things like your grocery bill, utilities, gas and more.

Here are a few ways to do that:

  • Shop at discount stores, like Costco or Aldi — both for groceries and general household items. The local dollar store may also have some staples.
  • Review your utility and service providers. If it’s been a few years since you chose your power company or phone provider, chances are you’re not getting the best rate. Take time to compare your options, and don’t be afraid to call up your current providers to renegotiate.
  • Rely on space heaters or bundling up rather than having the heater on constantly. Heating costs can get expensive, especially in the colder months.
  • Cut the cord. You’d be surprised at how much you can save by cutting out cable or other entertainment services.

You can also commit to DIYing more. Cook at home instead of ordering takeout or cancel that gym membership and work out at home instead.

Dealing with student loan debt

If you have federal student loans, you’re probably coming up on the end of that six-month grace period and the end of administrative forbearance. Fortunately, if making those new payments seems impossible, you have quite a few options.

With federal loans, you can apply for several types of repayment plans, including ones based on your income level or ones with increasing payments over time. You can also file for forbearance or deferment once administrative forbearance ends on Dec. 31, both of which put a temporary stay on payments while you sort through the financial hardship.

For private student loans, refinancing can help. This lets you take advantage of today’s low interest rates, ideally lowering your monthly payment in the process. You might also ask your lender about any discounts you might qualify for. Some companies offer discounts if you set up autopayments. This could save you a lot both over time and on your monthly payment.

All in all, here are some of your options if you’re having trouble making your payments:

Once you find a job, there’s a chance that your employer may help you with paying off your student loan debt. Not all companies offer this, but it’s worth asking HR once you’re hired on.

The bottom line

The COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly hard for the 2020 class of college graduates — especially those with student loans. If you’re one of the many 2020 grads who’s struggling financially, be ready to get creative. Negotiate with your landlord and utility providers, slash that shopping budget and talk to your student loan lender as soon as possible. You have more options than you think.


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