It’s an especially tough time to be a fresh graduate, even with the initiatives from schools and the Government. Job opportunities are limited, applications don’t seem to be going through, and home isn’t a place to laze and relax at anymore.
While the future might seem incredibly gloomy, keep your chin up! If you’re at a loss at what you can do, here are a couple of things you can begin with.
1) Up your interview game
COVID-19 has changed the way interviews are conducted, with virtual interviews possibly becoming the new normal. While millennials and Gen Z are comfortable with technology, it doesn’t hurt to be a little more prepared!
Make sure that you’re familiar with popular telecommunications platforms such as Zoom, Skype, and Google Hangouts, to name a couple, so that you won’t run into technical problems and lose your composure. Don’t forget to dress well and look into the camera when speaking, too! Avoid clothing with patterns or outfits in overly bright or dark colours, as they do not translate well on screen.
Tip: Check that your internet connection is stable before every interview! You can do this with the help of test calls, a service most platforms offer. Also make sure that your background is uncluttered, and your surroundings are well-lit.
2) Leave the door(s) open
These are extraordinary times, so be patient with yourself and the organisations you apply to. If you haven’t heard from a company you’d really like to join after the interview(s), do give them a little buffer time before sending a polite follow-up.
If there’s still no response or you’ve received a rejection, keep your spirits up. The company might be focusing its resources on adapting to the changes, freezing hiring as a result. That doesn’t mean they might not be open to hiring you at a later date. Send a follow-up email if you’d still jump at the chance to work with them; thank them and express interest in working with them in the future.
3) Maximise your online presence
While COVID-19 has put a pause to many networking events, there are still ways to build up your network like the best of em’. If you’ve yet to do so, set up a LinkedIn profile. After that, stay active on the platform: If you follow thought leaders in your desired industry, leave a comment on content or updates they’ve shared.
Even better, participate in any conversations in the comment threads by sharing your viewpoints. Why not share a few articles you’ve found helpful, too? Add a paragraph or two of constructive thoughts, and don’t forget to invite people to share their own opinions when you close off. Be deliberate: make sure that what you do is aligned to what you want prospective employers to see, or the brand you’d like to establish for yourself.
Consider reaching out to seniors working in your chosen industries, or employees working in your dream company. Keep things simple with a greeting, before asking if they would mind sharing with you an insider perspective of their industry. Keep to a single question per message. How has the company adapted to COVID-19 or what they like about this industry are two great questions to begin with. If things go well, politely ask if they’d be willing to accept an informational interview. Believe it or not, many people will be willing to accept if they can feel your sincerity!
Sometimes it’s better to give than to receive: don’t just connect with someone to ask for favours. Follow up regularly and make sure to offer your help wherever possible, no matter how small.
You can also join virtual communities on sites like Meetup. Of course, don’t forget to keep in contact with your friends and loved ones too.
4) Upskill while waiting
As Benjamin Franklin once said, an investment in knowledge pays the best interest. The Ministry of Education (MOE) has said in April that all fresh grads (final year students) from the six autonomous universities here will be able to take continuing education and training (CET) modules offered by their alma maters for free, so seize the chance to study and diversify your skill set!
Take the time to sit down and revaluate your career plans and goals. Is the career path you envisioned before the emergence of COVID-19 still workable, or has it been rendered obsolete due to COVID-19’s impact on the economy? It’s best to be prepared in today’s VUCA world: if you had only one career plan before, take the chance to draw out multiple plans that you can pursue should your dream plan fall through. Keep an open mind, and do seek out your university’s career centre office for advice if possible!
In this time of crisis, keep motivating yourself and each other to press on! While you upskill and continue the job hunt, remember to explore hobbies and get enough rest. If things feel like they’re too much, just take some time off. Pursue a few online courses for leisure or interest’s sake too! We wish all fresh grads out there the best, and join all of you in hoping that we will soon see better days as all of us get used to the new normal.
In the meantime, stay home and stay safe!