By Anja van den Berg
Final-year students are understandably experiencing a lot of anxiety and uncertainty when it comes to their employment prospects, as they will be graduating during the coronavirus pandemic. However, Dan Hawes, co-founder and marketing director of Graduate Recruitment Bureau, says that graduates have a lot going for them. However, lateral thinking and diligence will be two critical features of getting hired.
Hawes explains that graduates need a proper plan and need to do in-depth research to unearth hiring companies.
“Although companies in some sectors, such as hospitality, tourism and leisure, aren’t currently hiring, graduates shouldn’t lose hope,” says Hawes.
“Logistics, health, medicine, and some retailers (particularly online retailers) are booming and are actively looking to recruit graduates. These are the industries graduates should be focusing on applying to.”
What can new graduates do to boost their employment prospects during this uncertain time? There are several things you can do to throughout the process that will demonstrate your character and make you a more appealing candidate.
Dr Art Markman, Professor of Psychology and Marketing, advises graduates should start by honing their industry-specific skills. Many of the essential things they would need to do in a real-world work setup are not things they have learned at university. These additional skills might not be strictly necessary to get a job in their field. Still, it would undoubtedly make them more attractive candidates.
For instance, there might be a programming language or a software package that is often used in the field or a sales technique favoured by companies in a particular industry.
Honing their skills not only increases the range of jobs for which they are likely to meet the qualifications but also demonstrates their work ethic.
As Markman explains, candidates like to say, ‘I’m a self-starter’, but can they genuinely demonstrate that statement when an interviewer asks them to prove it?
Graduates should determine the skills that their industry is desperate for and prioritise developing those capabilities. Examples include taking an online class, reading books, and engaging in online forums with professionals in their field.
“The big question interviewers will ask is, ‘What did you do in lockdown?’” says Hawes. “Much like taking a year out, employers will want to know, ‘What did you do that’s put you in a better position?’”
Lastly, Markman advises graduates to reach out to local charities, food banks and animal shelters.
“Just because nobody is currently paying you doesn’t mean that you can’t work!”
Not only will this allow them to establish a good daily routine, but it will also help lift a low mood.
The positive feeling that comes from helping others can be a mobilising factor in their job search. Moreover, showing that they honestly care can go a long way in building references.
Markman also says that anecdotes and stories which they take with them will help them to stand out in job interviews.
Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2020/05/graduates-position-yourselves-to-get-hired
Dr Art Markman: https://www.amazon.com/Bring-Your-Brain-Work-Cognitive/dp/1633696111