According to the bureau of labor statistics, the current unemployment rate in the United States is 11.1%. To put this into perspective, it was 10.0% during October 2009 – the peak of the previous recession. Millions of Americans have already lost their jobs due to the effects of COVID-19. This includes mass layoffs by tech companies, popular businesses filing for bankruptcy, and several small business owners scrambling for money to keep them afloat as an alternative to closing down permanently, and thereby ending their dreams. 

All these have caused anxiety for new college graduates looking to get their foot into the door of the corporate environment. They are already depressed that COVID-19 stole their once-in-a-lifetime chance of attending their graduation ceremony as the event happened virtually. They will never get this moment back again. To top that off, they now feel stuck and unsure what their next step is to find a job during these unprecedented times. Life is never going to be the same for a long time, and graduates have to adapt to the new normal.

One thing to remember is, we have had numerous other crises in the past century, and we may have more in the future. We cannot control these circumstances, but we can control how we react to it. It is time to put the past behind us and keep marching forward. You have the power to make a positive change in your life. 

Here are five strategies that will help college graduates get their dream job under any conditions:

Keep an open mind

When applying for jobs, college grads immediately think their only option is to apply for full-time employment. But there are other alternatives as well. You can apply for paid and unpaid internships, temporary and contract jobs. Few of us think about these options as we want to feel secure; as soon as possible. Our objective, especially in these times of crisis, should be to gain industry experience and entry into the corporate environment. Once the job market becomes less volatile in a few months, you can use these experiences, add them to your resume, and apply for a much better full-time job opportunity. Companies would then be more than willing to hire you, as they know you already have corporate experience and do not have to train you as a new graduate.

Unleash the power of LinkedIn

In the age of Facebook, Instagram, Tik-Tok, and other social channels, LinkedIn often gets overlooked. I have news for you, LinkedIn is the haven for professionals to network, and your next job is waiting for you right there. If you do not have a LinkedIn profile yet, create one right now. Start adding as much information as possible about your interests, field of study, projects, internships, and other information that could help recruiters know you are capable of holding a job and having what it takes to succeed. Every keyword you use on LinkedIn is SEO information and indexed in google. So, when recruiters search for applicants or use software that does the same, your LinkedIn profile would pop up within the first few search results. It would help if you used keywords like leading, managing, AI, data science, engineering, research assistant in your profile to get picked up by search engines.

Once you create a profile, start connecting with other people on LinkedIn who work in similar jobs you are looking for. Once they are connected, message them, and ask them questions about what kind of work they do in their respective companies, and gain insights into your dream job. This helps in two ways. You are legitimately interested in learning about other jobs, and your connections are more than willing to share that information. But most importantly, if you establish rapport with your online connections, you can get the inside scoop about job openings that haven’t been published yet. So, you already have the upper hand compared to other applications. I got my last four jobs via LinkedIn and haven’t needed to submit my resume to people for the past nine years. Harness the power of LinkedIn.

Attend online networking events

Just because COVID-19 has stalled our lives temporarily, it does not mean that meetup groups, conferences, and other events have stopped. Most of them are still running with the only exception of being entirely online. Start searching for events that are happening relevant to your interests and your dream job. Join these events as a participant and connect with other people from these virtual events. You will be amazed by how many new and high profile connections you will make at these events, which will get you your next job. 

One strategy to follow here is, in most of these events, you can see the participant names. Take, for example, meetup groups. All participants who register for a big meetup event are visible to everyone, Start going through the participant list and find it out if someone is working in the relevant industry as yours. Identify these folks and search their names on LinkedIn to get a full profile of the person. Once you do this, you can connect with them. People are more than glad to reply and help you if you connect this way. It shows your interest in learning from others, and your connections love the opportunity to mentor you.

Invest in Yourself

Universities teach you the fundamentals of different subjects but do not necessarily cover all the information you need to know to get into the workforce. There is always some new skill set, technology, or tool related to your interests worth learning. Use this time to invest in yourself by taking online courses, reading blogs, articles, and books that cover more advanced concepts that are used in the industry. Educational websites such as Coursera, Khan Academy, and Udemy have free and paid courses related to management, engineering, marketing, sales, and other fields of study that are directly related to your ideal job.

Podcasts are a great source of information. There are hundreds of podcasts on various topics. Listen to them when you are walking, running, driving, or doing any mundane activity. Gain new skills and make yourself more marketable.

Strategize your job application process

Once you start applying for many jobs, you will eventually lose track of the jobs you applied for. So when a recruiter contacts you, the chances are you may not immediately know which job he/she wants to discuss with you. You may end up talking about a completely different job and blowing up your chances to further the interview process. This is why you need to strategize your job application process.

Have an excel sheet with the following columns-

  • Company Name
  • Job Applied
  • Date Applied
  • Job Link
  • Follow Up (Do after five days of application)
  • Comments (if any)

As and when you apply for jobs, fill in the information in this excel sheet. In this way, you exactly know which job you applied for, and can quickly get control of the entire job application process.

In summary, contrary to popular beliefs, the world is not all doom and gloom. There are still opportunities for graduates to get their dream job if they follow these strategies that will set them miles apart from the competition.

So stop worrying and start living. Take a positive step to find your dream job.