Right now you may be feeling as a recent or soon to be graduate that you ‘picked’ the wrong time to enter your chosen field of work. You may have heard doom laden forecasts of economic disaster and high unemployment. It is a difficult time and with stories of global recession it may feel daunting. The simple answer is no one knows what is going to happen, but already we are starting to see evidence of how certain sectors are reacting to the current crisis. It isn’t all bad news and there are ways to help yourself and make the most of opportunities available to you.
In a recession it is the non-graduate level jobs that will always bear the brunt of job losses. New entrants to the market will undoubtedly find it harder than last year’s cohort but there are still opportunities. Although vacancy data shows vacancies are down this year it doesn’t mean that they will not increase in the future when the economy reopens. The Small to Medium Businesses will probably be the hardest hit and the larger companies will probably be better able to cope with recruitment issues. Your first job may require you to utilise your full range of skills and you are going to need to reach out more and search smarter.
Certain sectors are actually going to emerge stronger. Health care, unsurprisingly, is one such area and this doesn’t just mean more nurses and doctors but also more support staff. Online retail and e-commerce continues to grow as will logistics and digital media companies. So, to better arm yourself you should be researching these sectors and see what work within them would appeal to you. Remember that support functions such as IT and HR exist across all companies.
Geographical location also plays a part with areas that have mixed economies managing better than other areas that rely on tourism or one key industry. Those local economies based around research or larger cities will see better results. One way to keep up to date on the market as it affects you would be to follow the insights into the sectors and locations via Prospects Luminate
Previous blogs have advised you to look at what you can be doing to strengthen your skill sets and this is always good advice. Look to the skills that you have that need to be developed further. Look at the examples you have to talk about on application forms and at interviews. Brush up on your STAR or CARR technique to learn how to articulate how well you use your skills
This is a good time to look at the many online training being offered for free. Not only does this serve as a great distraction in these stressful times (and shows your resourcefulness!) it will also develop great skills. Developing yourself is also never a bad thing to show a recruiter later. This is a time to develop yourself and your skills in terms of digital, soft skills or even another language. The Open University, Alison.com Futurelearn.com, Reed.co.uk, Duolingo are such places to look but there are many, many more out there.
Online Networking is probably something you have been meaning to get around to but now you have the time you may be struggling on how to start the conversation or nervous to contact people via LinkedIn. At a recent online event I attended one recruiter spoke about the need for students and graduates to make sure they have a strong and effective (translation: 100% complete and readable) LinkedIn profile. She felt that it was important for applicants to understand what they want from their career and be able to articulate it in conversations with people they want to hire them. So check out the LinkedIn resources that the careers teams offer. Tip: see your role as a networker as being a farmer not a hunter – this means nurture and tend to contacts not just seeing networking as a quick grab and add!
Look to all of the support you can access. In the first instance this could be your Careers team, academics and family networks. There are also support groups for more affected groups. Arts Emergency for example is an organisation supporting people in the arts field who are struggling. If you are person with a disability check out Remploy for advice. The Diversity Group covers a range of areas that they can offer support on and you can check on the careers website for organisations that can offer help and even networking opportunities for you.
Overall my message to you would be a simple one. In the words of the late Douglas Adams: Don’t Panic! Yes, the current situation is something beyond our overall control but if we can prepare ourselves and set out a clear message demonstrating our suitability then we will achieve much, giving up is not an option. Look to your ideas and goals and give yourself a clear focus in your job search. Ask for help and seek out support. You will reach your destination, it may just take you down unexpected routes but these can also offer valuable insights and connections. Good luck.