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8 Top Tips for Graduate Job Hunting During the Coronavirus Outbreak

6th Aug 2020

Around 400,000 students finishing their degrees in 2020 have seen opportunities disappear overnight. The graduate job market isn't easy in usual circumstances, yet alone trying to break through amidst a pandemic, which was clearly not part of your plan.  

With lots of media coverage concerning nationwide job losses it can be difficult to believe you can succeed. Mix that in with the emotions of financial uncertainty, a dash of wondering how it’s ever going to be possible to stand out from the ever growing crowd, and then stir it altogether with the occasional panic that all hope is lost for your career before it’s even started. It’s an uncomfortable cocktail of emotions.

Let us bring the hope back into your graduate job search, and metaphorically smash that cocktail glass. Here are some of our tips to help you navigate your job search and succeed as a recent graduate in our current economy:

  • Get industry ready

    You may have found that a high proportion of graduate jobs were already digitally focused; but the effect of lockdown has been that even more work is now required to be done online and more digital roles have been created in response to the pandemic.

    Use the time you have to learn new software that you have discovered a lot of companies ask for knowledge of in their job descriptions. Also take some relevant online courses too, specific to the industry that you are trying to break into. Places to start looking for good online courses are by checking relevant professional body websites, Future Learn and adult distance learning courses run by local colleges. The National Careers Service and Prospects website also list any useful industry qualifications needed for specific job roles too.
  • Create a CV you’re proud of

    Quite often graduates are unsure what to mention in their CV. With a comprehensive educational background, but limited work experience, it can sometimes be difficult to fully align with prospective job roles. However, any projects, volunteering, achievements and part-time jobs you have worked on, will all make great additions to a job application. Tailor them towards the role you are applying for, making sure you showcase any successes you had in the role, your strengths and transferable skills.

    Also, be honest about what you want, rather than going for a vague, generic approach in the hope of covering every possible job option. Follow the National Careers Service CV writing guide to ensure nothing is forgotten.
  • Network, network, network!

    One of the most convenient ways of starting to network is to really utilise your LinkedIn profile. Connect with influential people working within the industry that you are trying to enter, including local companies that interest you and employees working within those companies too. If you haven’t already set up a profile, you can follow this Graduates Guide to LinkedIn article to help you get started.

    An online networking tip is to message people when you first connect to say why you are doing so (maybe because you want to follow their industry relevant content, or perhaps you’ve read an article they published on LinkedIn that you really enjoyed, or you met them at a previous event) and why not let them know you are a recent graduate who is searching for opportunities in their industry. Whilst they may not always be able to help, they could offer you some helpful advice, or let you know about any great industry networking groups they are a part of.

    For a more indirect networking approach, you could share a public post online highlighting your desire to gain work experience and what you can offer – asking your connections on LinkedIn to point yourself towards any relevant opportunities they may have come across, or useful contacts they may know. Make sure people know about you – you never know where it might lead!

    You can read more into other networking options too under the ‘networking’ section of the National Careers Service website.
  • Attend online career fairs

    Recently, graduate career fairs have been going digital – the employers who are hiring will be looking for ways to reach students and graduates online. To do so, they’re likely to work more closely with universities, the big job boards and student websites – so pay attention to correspondence from your university and check the careers section of your university website regularly for any upcoming opportunities.

    The National Careers Service has been putting on regular online career fairs this year also. To find out more information about these and to see any job postings companies have been adding as a result of the careers fairs, follow the hashtag #JobsHour over on Twitter.
  • Book in for volunteering or work experience

    One of the most frustrating predicaments most graduates will face in their job search, is the need for work experience before getting hired. So for those who didn’t complete an industrial placement or internship, it’s important to take into consideration your options on how to gain work experience now – volunteering and long term work experience being two great options.

    If you’ve already followed local companies that interest you on LinkedIn, they may post volunteering opportunities on their social media pages. It’s also worth checking out your local authorities’ website too for voluntary placements, and do-it.org. Another option is to phone up or email local companies you would love to work for and ask whether you could do some work experience with them to build up your skills – either remotely or in person. Doing placements like this will help you to expand your CV and give you more to talk about in interviews – employers recognise that even if it’s not directly related to the job role you are applying for, it’s all good experience!

    Further advice on volunteering can be read on the National Careers Service website.
  • Look beyond your dream job

    A popular belief is that graduates should have a clear career plan in mind, based directly on their degree subject, interests, and skills, which will be linear in nature ascending through a series of promotions in the same sector. But in the current economy it could benefit you more to avoid rigid planning – instead opting for short and medium term plans that offer great transferable skills and act as a ‘stepping stone’ job role towards your ultimate dream job one day, as the economy tries to recover.  

    Whilst the immediate draw for a lot of graduates will be to go after the top-ranking big companies, some large multinational companies such as Lloyds Banking Group, HSBC and accountancy firms PwC and BDO have already admitted they are being forced to change and halt their recruitment plans. A great alternative approach would be to apply for jobs in a smaller company – allowing you to find your feet in the job market and gain some vital experience.
  • Make speculative applications

    Making a speculative application means getting in touch with an organisation to ask whether they have any suitable job openings, even if they aren't advertising a particular vacancy. It usually involves sending a cover letter and a CV, including why you are approaching the company.

    Usually major graduate schemes and roles at large companies will be advertised and you can apply in the normal way. But if you rely solely on responding to job adverts you may miss out on a range of opportunities, especially in the charity, design, environmental and media sectors where applying 'on spec' is common practice. In some industries it can be as high as 70% to 85% of vacancies that go unadvertised.

    You can also use social media to look for hidden work. Again, some job adverts are only advertised on employee LinkedIn pages, asking their network if they know of anyone suitable who would be interested in applying. It’s worth investing in building up your online network so you don’t miss out.
  • Find a coach to support you

    We highly recommend seeking help. You can contact a Careers Adviser through your university, or if you are aged 19+ you are eligible for free careers coaching support, which we can support you with here at Ansbury Guidance. Our career professionals can help you to explore your options and find opportunities. So if you’d like support in entering the graduate job market, or 1:1 coaching through any of the topics discussed in our blog, then please do not hesitate to contact us. Learn more about how best to contact us here: https://www.ansbury.co.uk/Adults.html