Covid-19: Graduating to (un)employment

Graduates have always struggled to secure a job. Despite the good grades one may have been getting in college, stepping into a real-world experience is a story of its own kind. Little experience, poor interview skills and unrealistic salary expectations are among the most common reasons for graduates failing to find a job after leaving college.

With the Covid-19 pandemic hitting the country hard, the prospects of securing a dream place in the workforce have become increasingly bleak. The unemployment rate is a record high 16.5%, and, according to EY Ireland, an estimated 318,000 people are expected to lose their jobs to the pandemic. What should graduates do? Sit back and wait? Or, on the contrary, take a more proactive approach? As advocates for hope, we advise you not to give up. Ever.

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When to start applying for jobs?

Bad news for those of you who like procrastinating: you need to apply early. While some sectors hire at a usual pace (logistics, health and medicine), others have slowed down their recruitment processes. This means that interviews, language exams, aptitude tests and other obstacles on the way to your dream career may take longer to clear. The best thing you can do is to put your head down and start working on your resume today. For useful tips on how to prepare a winning resume check out our other article: 

How to tailor your CV for the Irish job market

Where to look for jobs?

Start by asking around. Reach out to your parents, relatives and friends. Trust us: they are great people to solicit help from when it comes to finding employment. They may advise you on a company that is currently hiring. Who knows, their companies may be also looking for recent graduates to take on board!

Contact your college’s career services. After all, why not get help from qualified consultants? They are there to help you! The careers services is an excellent place if you are looking for application and interview process advice. A team of experts will guide you through the basics, explaining along the way how to write a successful resume and appear confident at a job interview. Did you know you could use your careers services even after graduation?

Take a closer look at recruitment agencies. Despite recent breakthroughs in technology, employers continue to resort to them. Lack of staff, little time to go through a large pool of candidates or a company’s will (or need) to keep discreet about their hiring process means that recruitment agencies are as popular as ever. Sign up with graduate recruitment agencies, upload your CV and patiently wait. And wait. And wait. Now give them a call.

It may also be a good time to start sending out speculative applications. Of course, you do NOT want to send unsolicited resumes to every industry out there. At best, you would be ignored; at worst, you would be remembered by a HR unfavourably. For a speculative application to be successful, it needs to be treated seriously.

First, shortlist the companies you want to work for. Do some research about the companies, what they do, what work they offer and what skills they require. Do you believe you have what it takes? Then write your letter and make sure to demonstrate what you have just learnt.

Never start with a generic “Dear Sir/Madam”. As heart-breaking as it may sound, it is likely to send your application straight to the bin. Remember: you must always include a named contact. If this information is not listed on the website, then consider giving the company a call or try searching LinkedIn.

Although you are not applying for a specific job, prepare your resume and tailor your cover letter. Show your academic achievements, present the skills that the company might be interested in and demonstrate your extra-curricular involvement (at the end of the day, what employer would not want to hire an active, energetic person?).

Application sent? Don’t forget to follow up! Give a phone call a few days after submitting your application and establish a closer contact with the person responsible for recruitment. Believe us: being proactive does miracles.

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Tried the above and still unemployed?

Becoming employed these days is so hard that the old saying should be paraphrased: searching for a job is MORE THAN a full-time job. Before you lose your last glimmer of hope, try online education and at-home volunteering.

Being unemployed because of coronavirus is “much like taking a year out”, says Dan Hawes, co-founder of Graduate Recruitment Bureau. When life is back to normal, “employers will want to know ‘What did you do that’s put you in a better position?’” Libraries are closed, but we are living in the age of technology, meaning that new knowledge can be acquired without you leaving home. Sign up for a mouth-watering “Science and Cooking” class at Harvard, discover the basics of screenwriting with University of East Anglia or get yourself into mathematical thinking with Stanford. Mentioning the courses you took with the world’s leading universities is a great way to boost your CV.

If learning is not something that you fancy at a time of a global chaos, consider becoming a volunteer. Covid-19 has exposed a number of vulnerable groups in our society. Why not step up and help them? Volunteer Ireland has a number of opportunities to suit everyone’s taste: from becoming a crafter for St John of God Hospital to trying yourself out as a storyteller at Monaghan Volunteer Centre. And here comes the good news: you can work from the safety of your own home. Better still: volunteering today may improve your chances of landing a full-time job tomorrow!

No one said getting a job is easy, but with the right approach and a little bit of patience, we believe you have got everything to graduate to employment.

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Sofiya Volvakova
Sofiya Volvakova

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