I graduated from college during the Great Recession and remember it being an exciting yet frustrating time. I was stoked to finally make money but it was a horrible time to find a job, especially entry-level positions since no-one was hiring. I applied to over 100 jobs and barely got any callbacks. I didn’t know if it was because of my resume, lack of experience, or the hiring freezes. Looking back, it was probably a combination of all three. I know COVID-19 is having a larger impact on the world and this recession is worse (I mean you can’t even physically meet people), but I’m hoping this post will somewhat bring peace and reassurance to your concerns and anxiety about entering the job market during this time.
My early career days were very experiential. I had at least 10 jobs/internships within the first 3-years after graduating, experienced a lot of failures, and even got fired from my first full-time job. Yet these experiences were so valuable since I learned a lot about myself. At the time, I viewed a lot of my entry-level jobs as boring bitchwork but later realized that each job acted as a stepping stone to the next best thing. I also needed those jobs to build good work ethics and to realize what I truly love. It wasn’t until I randomly landed a job as a merchandiser that the “bitchwork” became more bearable and actually fun.
If you’re worried or stressed about the job market, here are some things I’d tell my younger self:
- You will find the right job when it’s the right time, and the right fit.
- Be willing and open-minded about every opportunity because there is something you can learn and take away from every job.
- Don’t chase the money, but chase your passion. If you look for jobs solely for the pay you’re going to get burnt out or feel unfulfilled.
- Don’t be afraid to reach out to people or companies, even if they’re not hiring. LinkedIn is a great resource for this.
- Take the time to really work on your resume, portfolio, or website to display your best projects and skills. Squarespace is a great resource for building easy, pretty websites.
- It’s ok to not know what you want to do. Most people don’t know or think they know and end up doing something completely different (like me). The important thing is to notice what gets you excited, and what parts of a role you excel in so you can hone in on those skills.
- Update your resume to cater to the job you’re applying for. If it’s a marketing job, tweak your descriptions to focus more on marketing…. if it’s an HR-related job, tweak your descriptions to focus on your people skills, etc.
- If you write a cover letter, try to keep it half a page long. The reality is that most people won’t read the whole thing especially if it’s a full-page long.
- Make sure your LinkedIn is up to date and make it public so recruiters can find you.
- Internships are a great way to get your feet wet in a department or role to see if you like it or not. I did a ton of unpaid internships after college, so you should feel lucky that internships now pay! haha
- If you’re thinking about going to grad school or continuing your education, do it.
- If you get an interview, have questions prepared. Asking questions shows that you’re interested and that you did your research on the company or job.
- Be yourself during the interview. Being a good culture fit is often just as important as your skillsets, especially at smaller companies.
- Make goals or write a bucket list down. Writing it down will make you feel more accountable, plus it’s fun to refer back to your buckets list years later.
- Never burn bridges. The valley is a lot smaller than you think so it’s important to be professional and to control negative emotions in front of potential employers or current co-workers.
- Take advantage of your time by learning a new skill. There are so many sources like Skillshare and YouTube to make learning easy.
- If there’s a hobby you’ve always wanted to do, now is the perfect time to do it. This is actually how I started my blog, and who knows… maybe you’ll be able to turn your hobby into a business one day!
- Stay up however late you want, wake up whenever you want, and enjoy it because most of you will never have that much free time or freedom again.
- Don’t give up. I know it’s hard and the process can be discouraging… but the journey is also important and will make the reward so much more satisfying.
- Don’t stress, everyone is going through or has gone through a similar situation and we’ve all made it out ok.