By Fred Stuvek Jr.
Due to the pandemic, students and graduates seeking employment are facing one of the most challenging environments in decades. Many companies have scaled back or put plans on hold as they wait to see how things unfold. Unemployment has risen, and opportunities are not as abundant as they were pre-COVID. However, the opportunities are out there, and if you approach your job search in the right way, with the right mindset, you will find something.
Here are five tips for graduates looking for job right now:
Be realistic—Accept the fact that this will be a lengthy process with disappointments along the way. Having unrealistic expectations based on what you want to happen versus what will likely happen is demoralizing and demotivating. Don’t sabotage yourself and set yourself up for what you will perceive as a failure when in fact it is a byproduct of the current environment.
Alignment—Identify those areas and positions that best match your interests, skillset and qualifications. The greater the alignment, the more confident you will be and the greater the chances of success and fulfillment. If you have a shortfall in one area, be honest with yourself and a potential employer by expressing interest in doing whatever it takes to ramp up your expertise in this area. No one candidate has every box checked completely. Potential employers will appreciate your candor and enthusiasm.
Preparation—Presenting the best version of you encompasses a range of issues, all of which must be professional, consistent and in sync with what you are projecting. Ensure you have a resume that reads well and differentiates you. Your social media should reinforce these issues, because potential employers will scrub your social media, so be prudent about what you post and the image you portray. Have a visible presence on sites for employment, professional sites such as LinkedIn, and consider developing your own website. Examine your network of family, friends, former employers, professors, instructors, fellow alumni or anyone else you can think of who may have a connection which could be beneficial to you. Anticipate the interview questions and have responses developed. Take time to practice with someone, even recording the interview to assess your response, including body language. Do not be bashful about asking someone for help. It’s not always about having all the answers but knowing where to find them that is important.
Act—The difference between who you want to be is determined by what you do. Once you have developed your plan, you will only achieve your goals if you act on them. Develop a routine, with good habits, and have the discipline to stick with this regimen. Take that first step and then another, and move forward each passing day, as it all adds up like compounded interest. Track your progress by routinely reviewing your plan. Hold yourself accountable and get rid of the excuses.
Perseverance—How you deal with adversity could be viewed as the single biggest challenge in your life. Go into this process understanding that throughout this ordeal there will be setbacks and disappointments along the way. Don’t take it personally; take it professionally. Learn from it, leave it behind you and have the resiliency to continue to move forward, undeterred and firmly committed to achieve your goals. As Winston Churchill so eloquently stated, “Never, never, never give up.” With this mindset, it is no longer a matter of if but when.
Stuvek is the author of “Don’t (expletive) This Up” and “It Starts with You.” He was inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame for achievements in football, basketball, baseball and track. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy after lettering three years as quarterback for the Midshipmen. After service as a naval officer, he transitioned to the business world, where he has held senior leadership positions in private and public companies, both domestically and internationally. Key successes include an international medical imaging startup, which led to a successful IPO, and forming a private medical services company, which he subsequently sold. From the playing fi eld to the war room and then the board room, his leadership and accomplishments have given him a distinct perspective and a results-oriented mindset. CT