Writer / Elizabeth Shultz
Today’s young adults face unprecedented challenges in starting their careers, given the rising cost of higher education, decreasing earning potential attached to a degree, and current difficulties related to the coronavirus outbreak. The job market reflects skyrocketing unemployment rates, uncertainty among employers, increasing reliance on remote connections, and the consideration of outbreak-related risks and hazards in the workplace – not to mention the ambiguity of online learning options, as colleges scramble to address social distancing requirements. What is a recent graduate to do?
Reconsider your major. The job market just took a catastrophic hit. Many employers are not reopening, and this will have long-lasting impacts across multiple industries. Remote work is changing the workforce, including the way jobs are performed and the skills employers will be looking for in candidates.
Consider whether a given job will be reliable or essential. Some fields are booming including health care, technology and the grocery business. Next, what are the new and emerging jobs? Each state publishes information quarterly regarding job numbers. Second-quarter data will provide some indications of which industries have been hit the hardest, and which have gained. Consider what new jobs or industries may arise from these shifts.
Think about the increased need for software, as we shift to an increasing number of remote options for connecting. Software sales jobs are booming. Information technology jobs are in more demand now than ever before.
How will various fields change? For example, in the field of child care and early education, many families are hesitant to send their children back to school. Many companies are hiring for in-home services, including tutor and nanny jobs.
Most colleges and universities are still considering their plans for instruction in the fall. Think about your school’s capability for remote learning. Do they have an established distance education program? What skills are required for successful online learning versus in-person education?
The Job Market
Remote interviews are a whole new ball game, but there are some skills that will always be needed regardless of how an interview takes place. Be on time. This means log in at least 15 minutes prior to the interview time. Find a quiet place in your home (never outside), free from distractions. Be aware of what is in your background. Dress professionally and keep your cellular phone turned off. Have prepared questions ready for the employer when it’s your turn. Include questions about training and potential for upward mobility.
Remote networking is becoming more and more impactful. Online presence, including social media posts, should be kept professional. Employers can, and often do, search for candidates on Google before extending job offers. Avoid posting overly political, racial or religious comments, even on other people’s pages. Young people who have LinkedIn profiles and are somewhat active usually enjoy more attention from prospective employers than those who do not.
Participate in online job fairs. More and more employers are offering this option. Even if you are not sure, it’s still a good idea to check it out. You never know when you might make a good connection. New and tenured lawyers have the option to contact an attorney recruiter to find a law firm to work for.
Have a strong professional resume. As we shift from in-person networking to connecting remotely, this will help you stand out from the other candidates. It always pays to be ready when opportunity knocks.
Focus on life skills. There is so much not taught in school that we need to learn, in order to function successfully in adulthood. For example, creating a budget and saving for the future is important. There are also many college-level extension and certificate programs at little or no cost, through services such as Coursera.
Have some downtime? Try volunteering. This looks great on your resume, helps to make meaningful connections, and gives you an option for trying out a work situation before making a commitment.
If you aren’t sure what the future holds, don’t worry. Many people are taking life day by day. During this time, it is important to practice good mental health. Uncertainty exacerbates the normal stress young people feel when establishing themselves. Connecting with a therapist can be helpful to mitigate negative emotions and keep you on track. There are many telehealth options to make therapy safe and convenient. It also helps to have a career counselor, coach or mentor to help walk you through your options.