Until the past couple of months, we were celebrating a historically strong job market. Now during this pandemic, college students seeking internships or post-graduate jobs are facing significant unexpected challenges. By understanding the situation from the employer’s perspective, you can take steps to keep your internship and job search moving forward.
Understand that this is a time of great uncertainty to employers. With the outbreak of COVID-19, most companies will be impacted financially, as well as have their operations interrupted. From having to shift to remote work for some or all employees, cancelling travel, creating protocols for managing an ever-changing environment, and possibly shutting down completely, businesses are working to adapt.
Because of this disruption to normal operations, recruiting is likely to be impacted. Employers may be hesitant to make hiring decisions for interns as well as full-time positions until there is more stability with containment of the coronavirus and the financial markets. Even when they have clear hiring plans, those plans may take a backseat to more pressing priorities
What can you do to land an internship or job in this climate?
- Hone your phone and video interviewing skills. With employees working remotely and the emphasis on social distancing, it’s very likely that your interview will be conducted by phone or video (Skype, Zoom or other platform). Practice using these tips. In a video interview, your webcam should be level with your face so that you are not looking up or down at the camera, and you will want to be in a quiet space without visual distractions in the background.
- Demonstrate your adaptability and value. Take advantage of free online learning and develop skills that are relevant to the jobs and internships you are seeking. Whether you learn how to use technology that would be valuable to an employer or strengthen your skills in a language, try to develop a skill or two that will make you stand out from other candidates.
- Build your professional brand online. During this time, it is more important than ever to showcase and share your brand. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is complete and effectively demonstrates your experience, accomplishments, and key industry skills. In addition, make sure you use social media platforms as a tool to engage with employers. Select companies and professional organizations to follow on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram that align with your career goals and thoughtfully respond to content to begin to build your brand.
- Utilize your network. While networking is always important, regardless of where you are in your career, using your connections to help you get your resume in front of hiring managers is critical. If you can’t find a connection for a specific organization, do some research on LinkedIn or the company website to find out who the hiring manager is for the position you want and find a way to get your resume directly to that person.
- Be patient, but persistent. When you apply for internships and jobs, you may not hear back from the employer. Make sure to follow up but do so with the understanding that hiring plans may be on hold temporarily. If the employer is not able to give you information about their hiring plans when you reach out, ask them to suggest when you might follow up again.
- Utilize your career services resources. Current students have an abundance of resources available through their campus career service office. Most of these resources can be accessed online, including appointments with career center staff. They can help you build a strategy for your search, connect you with alumni and employers, and give you valuable feedback on your resume, cover letters, LinkedIn profile, and interview skills.