Job Search Tips From An Inexperienced Professional to Other Inexperienced Professionals

Originally published July 8, 2020

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Just a few months ago, my future looked bright. Graduation was nearing. I was also enticed with a potential full-time opportunity. However, COVID-19’s disastrous impact on the economy left me unemployed and inevitably laid off from my part-time job. My plans to climb the corporate totem pole were crushed, and this was a huge slap in the face.

I immediately started applying for jobs. For the past few weeks, I’ve incessantly been on LinkedIn and Indeed. Competition is fierce for college graduates who are now just entering the workforce, and the current economic crisis in America only exacerbates our prospects.

The same phenomena impacted college graduates during last decade’s Great Recession. According to the Los Angeles Times, a report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that nearly half of graduates in the early stages of their careers were unemployed. Unlike the Great Recession, the pandemic’s abrupt arrival reversed economic progress in just weeks.

To make matters worse, recent graduates carry heaps of student loan debt. Those listed as dependents on their parents’ tax returns were also disqualified from receiving federal stimulus checks. Getting unemployment is the only thing getting me by. The thought of paying back my student loans among other basic living expenses leaves me feeling constantly stressed.

Finding an entry-level job in my field isn’t easy. I have limited experience, and am well-aware that there are other candidates who are more qualified. After posting numerous pleas for help on Reddit, I have come to a few harsh realizations — and learned some useful tips for other unemployed graduates.

  1. You will likely have to settle

This was probably the hardest pill for me to swallow. I have worked retail and minimum-wage jobs throughout my college career. Getting my diploma was supposed to be my ticket out of the retail world. Nevertheless, I soon realized that this isn’t very obtainable.

While settling for a less “desirable” job is an expected outcome after graduating, the competition is only increasing in this crumbling economy. A study done by job analytics firm Burning Glass Technologies and nonprofit organization Strada Institute for the Future of Work found that about 4 in 10 new college graduates are unemployed. And of those, two-thirds will still be working low-paying jobs. This was something I didn’t even consider while I was completing my degree.

If you are pursuing a job in a creative industry, the outlook for opportunities is even more sparse. I’ve applied to numerous writing and social media positions and have yet to hear back from any employers. Although I will continue to apply for these jobs, I realize that I’ll need to settle. You have to take what you can get.

  1. Get certifications in skills that you don’t possess

As I was reading the requirements for entry-level job postings, I began to worry. Several of the bullet points were skills that were foreign to me. And I was infuriated. How is it that I had to work four long years to get a degree, but have no prior introduction to these basic skill sets?

The catch is that there are certain skills that you have to teach yourself. Most of what I gained as an English student were unmarketable skills such as analyzing literary texts and writing academic essays. A Reddit user wisely told me, “The big thing I realized is that college isn’t the end of your education or learning — it’s actually the start.”

This was another wake up call. Luckily with the Internet, we have a plethora of resources to choose from. Free courses are crucial for young professionals to get ahead, and I am definitely planning on exhausting all options to enhance my resume.

  1. Network, network, network.

It’s no secret that networking is the best way to land a job. Research shows that professional networks lead to more job and business opportunities. And in this upcoming economic recession, networking is more critical than ever.

An easy way to start is through mutual connections; family members, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and even former professors. However, we must do more than just expressing interest in a company. You must think ahead and consider how your goals align with the professionals you meet. Finding shared interests is a great way to make your intentions known.

Even though I got my previous job through a mutual connection, it won’t always be that easy. I recently began reaching out to experienced professionals on LinkedIn, all who are fellow university alumni. I haven’t received any responses yet. Not everyone you contact will respond — and that’s okay. Perhaps my attempts weren’t substantial enough. This is a learning curve and a process of trial and error.

  1. Find a way to showcase your work

If you are going into a creative field, one way to make yourself stand out is by creating a personal blog or a portfolio. Creating a blog was an avenue I never considered; that is, until I needed a platform to professionally showcase my skills as a writer and a content creator.

Since graduating, I’ve found it difficult to write. Is it because we are in the middle of a life-altering pandemic? Probably so. Nonetheless, putting your work out there is one of the best things you can do for yourself during a grueling job search. Employers want to see how your abilities compare to other competitors.

  1. Apply to as many jobs as you can

Whether you’re qualified for a certain job or not, it never hurts to apply. I’ve probably applied to over 50 positions within the past couple weeks. I also applied for several paid internships. And the search hasn’t stopped. This process has been extremely frustrating and defeating.

Despite these difficulties, I haven’t given up. This is a terrible time for young people to enter the workforce. But there is still hope. I’ve acknowledged the current state of our economy and know that I won’t find the job of my dreams.

Whether I work an office job, have a writing gig, or work in retail again, I’ll continue to reach my goals in the face of adversity. It’ll be tough. It won’t be smooth sailing. However, I have to keep reminding myself that the work I do now will eventually pay off in the end.

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