Landing Your First Job Out of College – During a Pandemic!

Talk about rotten luck! To be a newly minted college graduate in 2020 means you’re headed to job market unlike anything you, your parents and possibly even your grandparents have ever seen before. Many people are likening the current job market worldwide to that of the Depression in the 1930s, in which one out of four people in the U.S. were out of work. In fact, Forbes in April reported that already 23 percent of the U.S. workforce was out of work.

We truly are sorry that you’re graduating into THIS!

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But….something to keep in mind as you move forward: you are one person. You need just one job. Don’t focus on what you can’t control: how many other people are looking for work, competing with you. Instead, focus on getting you – your singular self – that one job.

Yes, it will be a lot harder this year than it was for your friends who graduated last year. Nothing can be done about that (that’s something you can’t control).

Remember: focus on what you can control…

…your attitude and your actions.

Looking for work now means it should take up most of your time and efforts. Yes, enjoy summer as much as you can, but you really should take up this old-timey mantra: “looking for work IS my job” until you land one.

That means concentrated effort of at least four or five hours a day.

Most of your job search will take place online

There’s no need to worry right now about attending career fairs or networking events in person. Job search sites, asking friends and family for leads and LinkedIn are the three “tools” you’ll use predominately in your search as we all deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and it’s “stay at home as much as possible” guidelines.

A big caveat: Do NOT simply find jobs on job boards and apply there. That really isn’t a job search: it’s merely “hitting send.”

Instead, by far the best thing you can do right now is start connecting and networking on LinkedIn. There’s a ton of great advice about how to do so strategically. Here’s a how-to we really like. (Bonus: it’s written for college grads.)

You not only can apply to jobs on the platform but you should/must start reaching out and engaging with your contacts there.

The right way to engage on LinkedIn

Take a look at your LinkedIn feed: you’ll see that many people link to articles and such. But you’ll also see that they comment on the articles. They also comment on their connection’s updates.

Most importantly, the most successful LinkedIn users tend to post updates on their own profiles that provide value to others. They offer a well-thought-out opinion about something. They provide advice about their industry. In other words, they give to get.

Don’t be shy

You may feel that you have little to offer. You may think you don’t have enough experience to provide information that’s of any value.

You are wrong.

Everyone has something of value to add. Everyone. Whether it’s an inbound marketing tip you learned as a digital marketing major, or your thoughts on an article that predicts when the recession may lift (based on your studies as an economics major), post it.

Regular posting and commenting helps people your connections see your expertise up close. Recruiters also will see your comments and take note.

Speaking of recruiters….

Feel free to follow – and ask for connections with – those who recruit in the industry in which you’re job hunting. Reach out and ask for a connection. Ask if you can send them your resume (don’t do so until you’re an actual connection).

Continue to engage professionally with your connections. Continue to offer value in all interactions, as well as in your updates and comments on other people’s updates.

One last LinkedIn tip: just as we advised re job boards, above, don’t simply apply to openings you see posted on LinkedIn and call it a job search. Instead, most of your time on the platform should be spent asking for connections, posting your own updates and commenting on the updates of others.

Times are tough out there for many job seekers. Here at Helpmates we’d love to help you find your first post-college job. Check out our current opportunities and apply to those that appeal to you. You also can contact the branch office nearest you to register with us.

Job Searching During the Holidays: Make it Ho-Ho-Ho, Not Humbug

Although hiring activities may slow during the holidays, they certainly don’t stop. Companies are still reviewing applications and scheduling interviews. They still need to fill openings and maintain their operations. Forging ahead with your job hunt over the holidays will give you a head start on all those people who take a break from their search for employment during this time of year.

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Many companies post their job openings before the holidays, even though they won’t make any hiring decisions until the new year. So, you will again have a jump on all those people who have stopped looking.

Moreover, continuing your job search will enable you to keep the momentum going on the job-search work you have been doing, rather than letting it slow and perhaps even become non-existent.

So, if you are thinking of suspending your job search during the holidays, we urge you to think again. Here are a few tips on making the most of your job hunt over the holidays.

  1. Make a schedule and stick to it.

With all that is going on over the holidays – shopping, family gatherings, holiday parties – it is easy to lose focus and let the job search slide. One way to keep up your efforts is by making a daily schedule, where you block out time that is devoted exclusively to your search. It is best to do it the same time every day so you get into a routine.

Doing this should help prevent procrastination or avoidance because you have a definite time and date set up to do it.

People currently employed should especially make a job-search schedule because you will likely have vacation time available, some of which you can use for your job search if you plan well.

  1. Renew connections.

The holidays present a great opportunity for networking. You can send a card or email to your contacts with a holiday greeting. Then also mention that you are searching for a new job and would appreciate any information they could pass along.

If you don’t feel comfortable bringing up the job search with the holiday greeting, your card or email is also an opening to get reacquainted and to set up more conversations where you can bring up the topic later.

  1. Use holiday gatherings to network.

Whether the gatherings are work related or not, they are also great opportunities to do some networking and letting people know about your job search. Attend as many as you can. Talk to colleagues and any other professional connections, as well as friends and family, about your search.

  1. Use volunteer events.

Around the holidays there are also many opportunities for volunteering – with church groups, charities, and others –which can also be used as networking opportunities.

  1. Update your search materials.

This time of year is also a good opportunity to make sure your resume is current. Naturally , each resume you send out will be tailored to the particular job you are applying for, but you can still make sure your work history is up to date and that you have plenty of examples of your accomplishments to draw from when you need them.

It’s also a good time to review your social media presence and to make sure that it is current. Do you have a current picture of yourself posted on LinkedIn? You can also use the time to write a few blogs or engage in a few discussion groups to enhance your professional reputation and make contacts.

Our Clients Always Need Great People Every Day of the Year

Whether you’re looking for work during the holidays for some extra stocking-stuffer money, or you’re looking for a new full-time position, contact the Helpmates office nearest you for more information on our job opportunities.

Think You Don’t Need to Job Hunt Because You LOVE Your Job? You’re Wrong!

You always should be on the lookout for our next job. Yes, even if you absolutely, positively LOVE your current job. Even if there’s no hint whatsoever about a possible coming layoff. Even if your boss loves you and says again and again that she’ll never let you go.

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If things are so perfect in your current job, why should you always be on the lookout for your next one? Because things can change. And change quickly. What’s more, if you’re in a job we love, it’s too easy to become complacent and to just skate along. Yet if you truly want to advance in your career, you need to learn new skills and have new responsibilities. You’ll often get them much more quickly if you move to a new employer.

Take a look below for a deeper dive into why regularly applying for new jobs is wise.

  1. Things can change quickly!

You love your boss and your boss loves you. You love your duties: they are exciting and keep you engaged. You love your coworkers.

But bosses themselves leave and their replacement more than likely will not love you nearly as much. Your BFF at work can leave and be replaced by someone who soon becomes the fly in your at-work ointment.

Layoffs also can seemingly come out of nowhere. Yes, rumors often start flying weeks or months before layoffs are announced, but some employers are really good at keepingthis information  on the QT, surprising most everyone. In fact, some HR experts encourage employers to keep looming layoffs a secret.

  1. If you want to move ahead in your career, you often have to find another job.

Staying in a job you love often means you become complacent, even lazy. You’re not eager to learn new skills. Yet if you want to advance quickly, you’re going to have to learn new skills and stay abreast of changes in your field.

Some people do this as a matter of course, but many others need a “push,” and a new job often is just the push needed. And, while you don’t want to job hop too much, especially as you reach your late-20s, moving to a new position regularly often means you’ll progress up the career ladder more quickly.

  1. You’ll keep your job search and interviewing skills sharp.

Just because you go on a job interview, doesn’t mean you have to accept the job if it’s offered. But applying for jobs, participating in interviews, negotiating job offers, etc. keeps your job-search skills sharp.

In addition, as mentioned above, you may find your next perfect job, one that probably gives you a raise and helps you learn valuable skills.

  1. You’ll start clarifying what it is you want out of a job/career.

Interviewing and meeting people in other companies, hearing about what they do and what they can offer you helps you keep abreast of what’s going on in your industry, and how your professional peers and possible supervisors believe it’s evolving. You can start seeing how you might be able to advance within it, etc.

In a nutshell, always being on the job hunt means you’ll better be able to stay true to your career goals.

Still, the best reason to always be on the search for your next position is the first one on our list: things can always change quickly. And, because it’s best to find your next job while you still have your current one, regularly applying for new jobs and going on interviews means you’ll find your next position while still happy in your current one. You won’t be desperate and you’ll be able to turn down offers that don’t match your needs.

Take a look at our current opportunities and if one or more interest you, follow application instructions or contact the Helpmates branch nearest you.

If You Don’t Know Where You Want to Go in Your Career, How Can You Get There?

If you don’t know where you want to go, going anywhere will do, right?

But do you really want to “go anywhere” when it comes to something as important as your career?

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We know of a truly and genuinely nice man, nearing retirement, who has worked in the cut-throat, exceedingly stressful financial services industry most of his working life. He has made an extremely good living for his family and his wife is quite grateful that his career has made it easy for her to be a stay-at-home mom. But he hasn’t been exactly…..happy in his career.

How did he get into this miserable-yet-lucrative career? He says he pretty much fell into it. He’d wanted to be a journalist in college but he graduated in the midst of the 1980 recession and journalism jobs were hard to find and didn’t pay well, so he took a gig in a bank. And then another position in a financial services firm. Then he got his MBA. Then he got married. Then he started making some serious money. Then they had children and the couple decided she would stay home. More money. More expenses (his children are lucky – and know it – because he and his wife paid for their children’s private-college tuition). And so on. And here he is today, literally counting the days until his retirement.

“If only I’d thought beyond taking that second job because it ‘paid more,’” he says.

Don’t let that happen to you.

No matter where you are in your career – graduating college or high school this spring, a year or two on this side of graduation, five years out, in mid-career, and so on – thinking about where you want to go helps you actually get there.

Yet, unlike the man described above, having a vague “I want to go into this and that” won’t get you far. After all, what if it’s not easy to find jobs in the field you’ve chosen (journalism jobs aren’t exactly plentiful today, either)? What if you meet up with roadblocks? What if you need to postpone the career for a bit and take another job until you find one you want? What if you find you don’t like where you’re headed?

What’s your Plan B? And Plan C? And so on.

But don’t worry, it’s not that you need to map it out completely.

After all, most of us have no idea what will make us happy in the future: we have an “idea,” but we don’t test it out. We think we’ll enjoy being an actress but – oops! – we never thought beyond actually being in a play or movie and forgot how awful it is to actually audition again and again and again and hear no so many times our head explodes from the rejection.

So while you don’t need a step-by-step plan, be careful. Take time to sit with yourself and be brutally honest. You want to help troubled children, but you also love to travel to Europe. Perhaps working as social worker – with its low salary – isn’t for you.

Conversely, let’s say you know exactly what type of career you want and you’ve thought it over carefully, talked to people who work in it, perhaps interned or volunteered within and it feels just right.

Now ask yourself, where do want to be within it in five years? Will you need more education or skills training? Do you want to go into a leadership or management role? How do you know if you’ll be a good fit? What will you do to find out?

And so on.

In other words, don’t wing it: have a plan, yet keep it flexible. Do so, and you have a greater chance of finding work that suits you as well as a career that unfolds as you want it to.

If you’re not quite sure if a field of work is the one for you, experiment with it via temporary assignments with Helpmates. Contact the branch office nearest you and let us know what you’re looking for. If we can help you “try a career” or job, we’ll be happy to do so.

 

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