Graduate Job Hunting - Class of 2020

Graduate Job Hunting - Class of 2020

The Class of 2020


Tips to stay positive and proactive about job searching during this tumultuous time.



If you are in your last year of university, things might look pretty bleak. Brexit aside, The "Class of 2020" were set to graduate into possibly the best job market in 30 years. Low unemployment and growing demand for skilled, qualified workers meant an 'employee-led' market. Then the coronavirus pandemic started. Campuses are empty. As you take zoom classes from home, graduation ceremonies have been cancelled or moved online. You will; it seems, graduate into a deep and long-lasting recession as the market adjusts to social-distancing compounded by the chaos of a potential no-deal Brexit.  

There's uncertainty ...but all is not lost! 

Here are some ways that you can stay positive and proactive about job searching during this tumultuous time.

Identify your ideal career path.

It might seem like many of your friends know the right career path for them—but it is okay if you still don't know what you want to do after graduation. This lull is a good time to reflect on past work-experience, jobs, extracurricular activities, and classes to help you plan for your future.

Getting started is simple. Take out a piece of paper, or create a spreadsheet, and write three columns: start, stop and continue. In start, write down the things you wish you had done in your past jobs or internships that would have made things better. In stop, list the things that made those jobs and projects difficult, so you know what to avoid. Under continue, jot down the things you've done before that you want to do in the future.

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Take out another piece of paper and make a list of your top 10 strengths and think about the industries and roles that match up. When you are making your list, write down the hard skills and soft skills like technological literacy, interpersonal, communication, organisational, practical, budgetary, character and leadership.

Even if you haven't held relevant summer or part-time jobs you have more experience than you think. Think about the skills you have developed during your studies - typing an essay and getting it in on time? That's research, computer literacy and effective time management! 

Consider what you learned from extracurricular activities like being on the entertainment committee of your student union, sports team, or other activity clubs on campus. If you work hard enough, you could be great at almost anything. But you will be happier and more successful if you are doing a job that plays to your strengths, where you find meaning. So give it some serious thought. 

Broaden Your Search

In the new normal, your ideal companies might not have openings that match your skills and experience level. Don't panic - Many people don't get their ideal jobs right out of uni even when they graduate into a stronger economy. Many people don't even end up working in the field of their degree. 

Be open-minded about your job search and apply to jobs that might not be at your dream company (or even in your ideal industry. Think of less and ideal jobs giving you the transferable skills you'll need in the future.

Think of ways you can pivot and apply your strengths and skills to high-demand industries like logistics, education, health care, retail and digital communication companies. 

Don't let Lockdown Limit Your Locations. 

As we come out of lockdown at different speeds in different regions of the country - it can be hard to plan to move. We also don't know what future 'local-lockdowns' will be in place for further outbreaks, or if new national lockdowns will happen during a second wave of winter infections. 

Adapt - Expand your search further by looking for contract jobs, and part-time for recent graduates in your current location, and full-time and long-term roles in the places where you'd like to be. Most companies are working remotely, even interviewing and onboarding, so you could start a role in Birmingham even though you are currently in Dundee. Explain in your cover letter that you plan to relocate when it's safe. 

Think of your first job after uni as a stepping stone that gets you closer to your ideal job. You'll gain new skills, build your network, and learn more about what you like and dislike in a role and company. Most importantly, you'll earn a paycheck!

Be Strategic about your Applications.

First, prioritize jobs that have been posted most recently because that's a sign that the company has a current role that needs to be filled. If a posting has been up for weeks, it may be less of a priority for the company at the moment. Although bear in mind it may mean they may have struggled to find the right fit and would now be willing to loosen their criteria.  

Be confident when you're reading job postings. You can still get the job even if you don't meet all of the job qualifications. Use your CV and cover letter to show you have transferable skills employers need. Look for jobs at companies that are hiring rapidly to meet customer demands.

Speaking of your CV and cover letters: Spend more time on each one so your job application gets seen. It takes more time to modify them for each job application, but it's necessary. When you apply to a job online, your application often goes into an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)—software that reviews your CV to determine how well you'd fit the requirements of the job posting.

The key to getting past the ATS is generally written right in the job ad—keywords such as the job title, responsibilities, and skills. Most CVs that go through an ATS are eliminated because they don't meet the requirements the hiring manager specified, such as the right skills, education level, or job titles, according to Monster research, so it is key to getting your CV in the hands of a hiring manager. Upload your CV to Monster today and get a free professional review and advice. 

Prepare for Video Job Interviews.

You spruced up your CV and cover letter, and now you have a job interview! It is normal to be nervous, but remember that the hiring manager already thinks you are qualified; otherwise, you wouldn't have landed the interview. The best thing you can do to decrease your nerves and impress the hiring manager is to prepare. Practice these four most common interview questions by writing down bullet point answers for each.

Decide in advance the questions at the end of the interview. Learn about the company by reviewing the website, checking recent news, reading the company's blog posts and press releases, and looking at its social media accounts. The 'about' page or 'careers' page is a helpful source to learn why the company was founded, how the team defines what they do, the mission and values of the organisation, and the company culture.

Now that many people are working remotely, job interviews are being done by phone and video instead of IRL. You'll stand out from the competition if you learn the ins-and-outs of phone and video job interviews. As a minimum dress and prepare as you would for an IRL interview, and turn off the outer space background!  

Use your network

People understand that this is a difficult time to be graduating, and many people want to help. Reach out to your college or uni career centre and make a phone or video appointment with a counsellor. Go to any virtual workshops and classes that they host. Some schools are hosting virtual alumni events and meetups, so add those to your calendar to connect with alumni who could be helpful for your job search.

If you've had part-time or summer jobs and internships, or work experience placements, reach out to former colleagues and bosses if you see openings at their companies. They're more likely to hire you than the competition because they know your skills and work ethic. Even if they aren't hiring, they can be references for your other applications. Since they're in the industry, they may hear of additional jobs through their network, and they can recommend you.

Ask friends, family, alumni, and past co-workers for email intros to hiring managers if they work at one of the companies you are applying to or know someone who does. Those email intros, or having people in your network send your CV and cover letter on your behalf, can get your application to the top of the pile even if human resources isn't done sorting through the applications that come in through the ATS. Many companies run referral schemes where their current employees can make recommendations. 

Graduate Schemes 

Research graduate schemes in your target industries. Graduate schemes are extended training programs to bring top-scoring graduates into the workplace, they can last one or more years, and have attractive salaries - with 1 in 6 paying over £40,000. Places can fill up fast, and the earlier you apply the better. The selection process can be lengthy, with most jobs starting in November or December following graduation. 

Make yourself more marketable.

Take classes and certification programs to learn skills that are relevant to your industry. Do you know how people say to dress for the job you want, not the job you have? Use this time to work toward the job you want. Start a passion project like a blog, newsletter, or writing a business plan for a company. Help people and get noticed by sharing your skills on social media, your own website, and other platforms.

If you want to work in finance, share financial advice like tips for budgeting, dealing with layoffs or furloughs, or saving money because of pay cuts. If you want to work in the fitness industry, start a blog, host workouts on Instagram Live and YouTube Live, and share tips for staying active while staying at home. Be creative. A passion project can make you stand out during your job search, or it could even become your full-time job. 

Need more help on the hunt for jobs for recent graduates?  Join Monster for Free today As a member, you can upload up to five versions of your CV—each tailored to the types of jobs that interest you. Recruiters search Monster every day looking to fill top jobs with qualified candidates, just like you. Additionally, you can get job alerts sent directly to your inbox to cut down on time spent looking through ads.

This article was adapted from one originally published in the US by Elana Lyn Goss, available here . Elana is a journalist and the author of "What Next?: Your Five-Year Plan for Life after College." "What Next?" teaches readers how to create a five-year plan and has actionable career, finance, wellness, and relationship advice to help them accomplish their goals. Early reviewers have called it "the book every twenty-something needs," "the go-to guide for life after college," and "basically the Google Maps for post-grad life."