1. Stay positive and persevere
This is a strange time and it’s taking us all a little while to adjust to our temporary new lives, particularly for those who may have lost their job, had their income affected, or who have been struggling to find graduate roles. Whilst it might feel difficult to stay optimistic, if you allow the fear of not finding a job consume you, then you may well find it more difficult to get a new job.
Try to shift your mindset, and choose hope over fear. Thinking positively and openly will help keep you focused on finding the right opportunities and channel your application energy there, rather than settling or not finding anything at all. Many employers are still recruiting and you WILL find something. So, whilst it might be tempting to place your job search on hold, DO keep applying, otherwise you risk those who do continue their job search landing the role that was meant for you.
Yes there has been a decline in graduate recruitment due to the pandemic but the decrease in recruitment is less
in large organisations
for graduate roles compared with internships
in IT/tech roles and sectors
in Healthcare roles and sectors.
Remember too that St George’s graduates have the highest employment rate of any university!
These times are unsettling and understandably stressful. So be kind to yourself, and allow yourself to feel frustrated as THIS IS NORMAL! Try stepping away for a few minutes to exercise, meditate, call a friend, or whatever else helps to calms you down. Then get back to it when you feel ready.
2. Develop your resilience
Tough times can help us to develop the crucial skill of resilience that employers list as a key ‘employability skill’. Read here about developing your resilience, with some motivating links to make view challenges positively. However, if you are struggling If you are struggling to stay positive and have concerns over your mental health then these resources may help.
3. Update your CV
Tailor your CV to your preferred industry and job roles (Prospects.ac.uk and Target Jobs have job profiles of graduate roles and give the key skills required as well as how to apply to them and key industry job websites).
With the number of live vacancies falling during this time, competition for roles may be a little higher. Use this to your advantage! Rather than sending your CV to every role you see (as others might be), be selective and take the time to write a strong and tailored CV or application for each job you apply to. Employers will notice if you have taken the time to do this or not. Prioritise quality over quantity to stand out from other applicants and help you secure the right jobs you really do want.
Read through the job description/advert thoroughly, identify the skills and experience the employer is looking for, and make sure you provide evidence that you meet their requirements. Book a careers appointment to get your CV or applications checked before you apply
4. Engage and grow your network. Start ACTUALLY using LinkedIn!
With so many people stuck at home, the lockdown and working from home presents an ideal opportunity to reconnect with and continue to build your network. Reconnect with people from your personal and professional network (e.g. from work placements, part time jobs, volunteering and so on) to see how they are and let them know that you are currently looking for work. Reach out to new contacts and organisations on networking platforms – from social media to LinkedIn. This way, you’re in a good position to find out about new opportunities faster.
LinkedIn is easy to use and can have an enormous impact on your knowledge, network and job search. It enables you to;
Raise your profile
Connect with like-minded people with similar career interests
Find out about people and career journeys
Check what skills others have who work in the roles you would like
Follow key organisations that interest you
Find and join professional groups to stay up to date with developments in the sector and join in conversations
Post articles, examples of your work or other useful info – or comment on other peoples’ posts to show your interest.
Register with the Job Search and receive notifications. Subscribe to the LinkedIn ‘GetHired’ weekly newsletter for tips, advice and updates.
Grow a professional network through others that you can nurture for live
Make sure you check how to make the most of it with these links or book an appointment with the careers team.
You could also find and join professional groups or organisations on Facebook and or follow people or organisations on Twitter.
SavetheStudent have some useful tips on perfecting your LinkedIn profile. You can also book a careers appointment via firstname.lastname@example.org to get feedback.
5. Take time to reflect – what direction should you take now?
Research and reflect on what types of roles and careers you’re interested in – if you’re unsure about your career, use tools like the Prospects Planner or jobmi to identify your skills, interests, values, then get matched to job profiles to explore online. The Ultimate Careers Guide (PDF) also has advice on self reflection and career choice.
6. Advance your Skills and experience – make good use of your time
Websites like Futurelearn can help you top up your skills to add to your CV from Business and Management to Health and Medicine showing employers that you have made good use of your time in lockdown. ‘How did you spend your time in the lockdown?’ could be the new popular interview question.
To search the range across different providers also try my-mooc
7. Work actively on your job search – not all jobs are advertised!
Research roles and companies – if you know what you’re interested in, get online and start researching the employers in your industry, look at job adverts, find out tips for applying, plan to get relevant experience, and reach out online to expand your networks
Register with key job sites for your industry, Prospects.ac.uk job profiles and Sector guides can help to identify them.
Speculative applications – limited approach
You could try creating your own opportunity by reaching out speculatively to organisations, even when they aren’t advertising. Do your research about them beforehand, so you can be clear about why you want to work for that particular organisation, what you can offer (i.e. evidence of your relevant skills and experience) and what type of work you’d be interested in. Tailored approaches are more important than ever in the current climate.
Be mindful that many businesses will still be adapting to a new way of working and/or may currently be experiencing a lot of uncertainty themselves about the future of their work. So you might want to think even more carefully about who you approach during this time – e.g. are they still active? How likely is it that they will have been negatively impacted by the Coronavirus restrictions? Be patient and consider acknowledging that you understand this is a challenging time, but that you’re keen to help them if you can.
You might also want to think about the type of skills that employers will find particularly valuable at this time. For example, highlighting your IT or digital skills, and/or creating voluntary roles that would be especially valuable to small companies and charities (such as helping them with online marketing and social media to meet the needs of clients, or developing their online brand).
8. Do virtual work experience or volunteering to boost your CV and keep motivated
You might also consider doing a virtual work experience programme. InsideSherpa offer a range of virtual work experience from some top graduate employers, to help you develop skills, get an insight into what it’s like to work in your chosen sector, and prepare generally yourself for the world of professional work.
Volunteering gives you a chance to gain many of the same skills as through formal work experience, while also giving something back to an organisation or community that could benefit from your skills. Volunteering roles could encompass anything, from helping an organisation build their website or database, to designing promotional materials or a marketing campaign. Do-It and websites like Idealist are good starting points
HireAcademics.com offers virtual opportunities for those considered ‘experts’ in an academic field or who may have completed postgraduate qualifications.
Bright Network offers three day virtual experiences with a range of employers to discover career paths, meet employers and boost your employability.
For those looking to get more experience prior to making a medical application, Observe GP (run by the Royal College of General Practitioners) aims to give a fair chance for all in gaining work experience.
9. Learn how to perform in remote interviews and online recruitment – practise makes perfect
Read pages 38-41 in the Ultimate Careers Guide 2020 (PDF), and these tips on Target Jobs.
Since social distancing guidelines have been announced, most employers have responded rapidly by shifting much of their recruitment and selection processes online. These include the use of video interviews, and/or remote interviews via phone or video conferencing software, such as Skype or Zoom.
Get ahead of the curve by preparing and practising for the types of interviews you want to secure, for example by:
video yourself answering interview questions
book a mock interview with a Careers Consultant by emailing email@example.com to practice over the phone or via video link
think about how to sell yourself – create a list of potential interview questions (or view some on and type up some bulleted answers to use as main speaking points.
Once you secure a remote or video interview, prepare in the same way as you would a face‐to‐face one. Dress professionally, be ready to go five minutes early, check all of your camera and audio settings ahead of time, and make sure you have an appropriate, uncluttered background.
Find more tips on the TargetJobs website.
In addition, some graduate recruiters were already using online assessments, such as psychometric tests (see page 44 of The Ultimate Guide [PDF]), as part of their selection process. You can practise Assessmentday.co.uk
Find more advice on the Prospects website.
10. Be patient
Remember that businesses are also adjusting to the changes thrust upon us all by the Coronavirus pandemic. With employees having to rapidly adapt to new working arrangements and so much still unknown about how the situation will develop, hiring processes may take a little longer than usual (e.g. as companies navigate the best way to interview online).
Be patient and don’t panic if employers take longer than usual to respond. But also don’t be afraid to follow‐up to show you’re serious about the opportunity, but don’t chase. You can also acknowledge that you know this is a challenging time, so turnaround might take longer. For more advice, LinkedIn have a useful article on ‘What recruiters want you to know about job searching during the pandemic’.
Good luck and don’t forget that the St George’s Careers Team can support you for two years after graduation on any of the above and virtually. Book an appointment by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.