Graduating seniors in communications and marketing are facing the daunting prospect of trying to enter the job market during the COVID-19 pandemic. It will not be easy.
Nearly 4 million students are set to graduate this year in spring 2020. That leaves many anxious students wondering what the job search and interview process will look like come graduation time. Or whether there will even be any jobs available.
As bleak as it all seems right now, some companies and industries will need to hire employees as the demand for their products and services spike during the coronavirus. Point in case, Fast Company lists a few industries like delivery and online learning companies that will be hiring like crazy over the next few months, possibly even years.
College seniors would be wise to start preparing themselves today for what promises to be a very competitive job market come graduation time. To that end, here are the 8 career tips we came up with for PR and marketing seniors graduating during the coronavirus.
1. Stay calm
There’s no denying that everything is in flux and chaotic at the moment. Just know that you’re not alone. Everyone is facing this pandemic together, and your fellow PR and marketing student peers are in the same boat as you. Stay calm, stay upbeat, and just know that this will eventually pass.
Tip: If you need a little help on how to reach a calmer state of mind, try this timely breathing exercise from UC San Diego Health. It really helps!
2. Practice patience
Unlike last year’s graduating seniors who may have attended job fairs and even had multiple job offers, this year’s seniors will see a much slower hiring process — in most cases. As mentioned above, there may be industries that have to ramp up at warp speed in response to the coronavirus.
TechRadar reports that Amazon plans to hire as many as 100,000 workers over the next months. Okay, not every one of those jobs is in the field of PR and marketing, but there may very well be some opportunities given that kind of growth.
So just remember, not all hope is lost!
Tip: Here’s a helpful article in Forbes on how to practice patience and live a happier life.
3. Be adaptable
Adaptability as a college senior in communications means using your time remaining in school to acquire the skills and knowledge to make yourself the perfect candidate for the job you seek.
For instance, you may have been practicing in-person interviewing skills during your last semester. This won’t be a standard practice in the coming weeks or months. Instead, familiarize yourself with video applications like Zoom and Google Hangouts, both of which are growing in popularity as corporations are turning to video to replace in-person meetings. (More on that below.)
Tip: To learn how to be more adaptable and embrace change in the future workplace, check out this article from The Balance Careers.
4. Hone your interview skills
Take time before each interview to learn everything you can about the company you’re interviewing with. Get to know who they are, everything they offer, and any recent news or company updates. This is all information that you can use during the interview to demonstrate your interest in the company and show that you did your research.
Before the interview, have a peer, friend, or family member hop on a video call with you to do some mock interviews. Have them take note of not only your interviewing skills, but also any nonverbal cues you may be giving. Body language sometimes says more than your words, so make sure you practice making eye contact, sitting up straight, and not fidgeting while speaking. You want to come across as interested, open, and excited about the opportunity.
Tip: Here’s a helpful roundup of 46 common interview questions from the career and professional development website, The Muse.
5. Learn more skills and certifications
With potentially more time on your hands, consider learning new skills that can help you stand out from the competition as you seek to land your dream job.
While more education may not be at the top of your list having spent most of your life thus far in the classroom, taking a couple more classes that are specifically geared toward your chosen career can’t hurt.
There are thousands of free and paid online courses covering topics you may not have learned in class, from marketing to business to personal development. There are even Ivy League courses you can take for free if you want to expand upon what you already learned in school.
Tip: This article from Indeed highlights different types of certifications and why they can be beneficial to your career.
6. Update LinkedIn profile
Now is the perfect time to give your LinkedIn profile a refresh, or create one if you haven’t done so already. Consider listing all of the projects, internships, volunteer experience, or student organizations that are relevant to your PR career. Be sure to detail any achievements that resulted from them. Reach out to a professor, internship advisor, or work-related peer and ask them to write a recommendation for your profile.
Instead of listing ‘PR Student’ as your profile headline, consider making it something more specific like ‘PR Graduate Seeking Communications Role.’ This not only helps your profile stand out in a sea of PR student LinkedIn pages, but it lets recruiters and employers know that you’re available for hiring.
Tip: If you haven’t created a LinkedIn profile yet, this article from Inc. covers more must-haves for new graduates.
7. Volunteer or intern
You may be eager to join the workforce and have your mind set on landing a full-time job, but during such a time of great uncertainty you may have to readjust your plan.
With summer just around the corner, many companies will be offering internship programs. Whether you’re a student or a recent graduate, internships have proven to be valuable in gaining hands-on experience and getting a glimpse at what a full-time job will look like.
If you’re able to take on unpaid work for the time being, consider volunteering your PR and marketing skills to a nonprofit or local community group. This can give you the opportunity to apply your skills to a real-life situation and give you a valuable experience to add to your resume.
Tip: The Job Network highlights more reasons why getting an internship after college can be beneficial to your career.
8. Go the extra distance!
Our final word is that in this new world order where a virus holds sway over the people and economies of an entire planet, you will have to go the extra distance to jumpstart your career.
What can you do to go the extra distance? Never give up! Keep grinding, keep pushing, keep trying.
Tip: Check out Angela Lee Duckworth’s famous TED Talk about her life, career and book entitled Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. It’s a great book and worth the read in these current times (find the book here).
About Author: Sam Lauron is the Content Marketing Manager at Swyft, a tech PR firm in Austin with satellite offices in San Francisco, Houston and Denver. She was an intern at Swyft right after graduating from Texas State University with a degree in Public Relations and Mass Communications.