The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has now impacted the daily lives of nearly everyone in the world. Beyond the daily headlines, what can you be doing as a new college graduate in 2020 to prepare for your entry level job in this new reality?
Here are several points on how you can prepare yourself for life after college this year:
1. Finish strong on your academic commitments.
Don’t slow down on finishing your degree requirements and classroom commitments. Although there may be a tendency to slack off on classes and let your grades slide in your final semester, don’t do it. Your GPA will still matter for both current and future job searches. Make sure you complete your degree program as an excellent student, one who is able to work independently to complete work on your own. This is especially true if the remainder of your classes will be completed remote/online.
2. Lock down any potential employer commitments.
If you have already received and accepted a job offer, good for you. But don’t take that offer and acceptance for granted that you simply need to magically show up on your start date. In previous economic downturns, employers have rescinded offers. When offers are rescinded, it is usually only a percentage and you don’t want to be part of that percentage. So stay in touch with your new employer to make sure things are still on track for your planned start date. Ask if there is anything you can do to help to better prepare yourself for your new role.
3. Lock down your commitments.
If you have an offer (or two or three) in hand, but have put off making a decision, make it now. And in all cases, be ready and willing to back into #2 or #3 if #1 should evaporate (which may happen). It’s good to plan the “What if?” backup plan if one or more of your employer options should fail to materialize as planned.
4. Ramp up your tech setup.
If you have been relying on your smartphone and apps, now would be a good time to consider acquiring a laptop, which will give you more tech options going forward. And start working with the laptop/desktop programs and apps which will be used in your future world of work.
5. Be prepared to work virtual.
This applies to both those who have a job offer accepted and those still working toward a job offer. If you have not yet set up a structured virtual workspace, now is the time to do so. And know which resources online can assist you both in your job search and in your future job. Get familiar with online meeting resources such as Zoom, GoToMeeting, WebEx, Skype and others. Create free basic accounts and get your system set up and configured in advance of using it in an employer setting.
6. Shift your job search online.
Be prepared to not only search for jobs online, but also to make contacts online and even interview online. While you may already be savvy with video chats on your phone, an online interview requires a different setup. You need a stable camera, quality microphone and uncluttered background. This is where a laptop will work much better for you than a standard smartphone. Closely examine what is behind your headshot in the video frame to make sure there are no distractions for an online interview.
7. Do not delay.
With the uncertainty in the market right now, you might be tempted to sit back and wait for things to settle before pursuing your job search. Do not give in to that temptation. Your time to act is now. This is a highly volatile market and those who act first will be in the best position to lock down an entry level job in this time of uncertainty.
8. Be flexible.
Things can and will change. Maybe even more than we expect. Be ready to change and adapt as needed. Expect the unexpected to happen and then some. You are graduating during a time that has not been seen in the history of all those currently walking the earth. Those who respond fluidly to the changing circumstances will be best prepared to move into the next phase, whatever that may be and wherever future crises may take us.
Overall, know that you are entering a period of time when demand is still latently strong for most salaried roles. The news reports of unemployment are most often clustered with hourly workers or within specific industries. While the resulting future economic downturn may impact more heavily the Class of 2021, take advantage of the relatively robust economy heading into this current crisis. It will provide you with opportunities if you are willing to move forward quickly.
And please feel free to pass this along a link to this article to anyone you know who may be graduating college in 2020.