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My Job Search During COVID-19: Keep Dreaming

Hey, all. 2019 graduates. Recent 2020 graduates. Early-hires. Young professionals. Those who have been laid off. Those in furlough. Those on unemployment. I know it feels like everyone is looking for a full-time job (or any job right now). As a recent graduate from SUNY New Paltz, who majored in journalism and minored in Spanish — and experienced the job market during a pandemic, I’ve learned this: don’t let a virus dash your hopes for a dream job.  I’ll share some of my own takeaways to keep your dreams alive during this time. 

1. Start with introspection. 

Did I solely want to be a reporter/journalist, or was I open to ideas where I could potentially use my journalism skills in other fields? I encourage you to ask yourself what skills you want to keep building on. That will lead you to answering what other roles you’re open to exploring. And it led me to understand that writing, reading and researching have been in all the jobs I’ve ever loved and grew from. Those skills and passions needed to be integrated in the job I chose for the future too. Then I asked myself: Did I solely want a full-time job or was I interested in part-time or freelance work to get my foot in the door? Keeping the answers to these questions in mind helped me widen my search, and apply to jobs more focused on the quality of work than the quantity of jobs. That way I’d still be able to make a stable living even if the full-time jobs weren’t coming. 

2. Use all the job boards.

I looked for jobs in my field via Linkedin, Twitter, Indeed, Glassdoor, PND: Philanthropy News Digest, and Idealist because as aggregators, all the potential jobs were in one place. Generally, Linkedin and Twitter are great social media tools to follow the company for job posting updates and connect with potential employers. Indeed allows you to customize job alerts that land in your inbox and provides resources about all-things career-related. Glassdoor is useful for learning about company culture, salary, and benefits offered. PND and Idealist make reaching out to the employer and applying abundantly clear: who to email, who to address your cover letter to, and how/where to submit. 

3. Go long and go hard.

I applied for dozens of writing jobs in a total of 10 months since graduating. A Google Sheet titled, “Dynahlee Padilla Job Shopping,” was my BFF (thanks to an alumna and friend who tipped me). This sheet included the company name, title of the role, date I applied, compensation if stated, the name of the contact/hiring manager, and link to the original job posting. This structure helped me keep track of who I needed to follow up with, who I should be connecting with on social media, and the types of jobs I was looking for. It served as my timeline of progress.

4. Find a good fit.

Yes, we all need to be working for a company that’s a good fit. Can you see yourself enjoying the role based on the job posting and any interviews you’ve participated in? Can you see yourself doing the responsibilities asked of you well and with passion? Do you agree 110 % with every part of the company’s mission statement and values? Can you see yourself grow with the company now and later? I once went all the way to D.C.  to interview — for a Booking Producer role at a media company with an extremely conservative perspective, and I knew right away it wasn’t right for me. So, don’t compromise your values to fit in. You can choose to be a part of the company, the same way it can choose and consider you to join the company. 

5. Keep your resume, your professional and personal story on paper, crystal clear. 

Maintain a resume that’s up-to-par: education, succinct summary, publications/achievements, language skills, and relevant experiences that relay your skills in chronological order from the most-recent. Include keywords that target the roles you are looking for. When I worked at ABC’s “7 on Your Side” as an intern (post-grad), I learned that data journalists were trending in the media industry, so I tagged the word “data” and “producing” onto experiences that included those skills to stay on potential media companies and employers’ radar. Also, update your resume (and your LinkedIn) as soon as you begin a new role. Always proofread, and have editors in your trusted circle review for you. And for recent grads, add a “Professional Experience” headline — because now you are a professional — still learning but not a student.

6. Cover letter

A cover letter should never be optional. Job postings often say that, but as I’ve learned on TalentCulture, sometimes job postings are poorly written or generic or do not meet the needs of the company. Include a compelling signature with contact info. Use this piece of writing and ready-to-go clips/samples as your power tools to stand out! 

7. You’re not done yet.

Getting a callback or interview doesn’t mean the work is done. Continue to apply for other jobs, because in this particular economy and market, we never know where these opportunities might take us. 

8. You’re really never done.

Remember: job hunt is like dating. Brace yourself for rejection. Many times, we’ll get ghosted. Sometimes we’ll get led on — to nothing. So keep applying, and keep dreaming. And don’t stop. Ever. Check in with your own network and build on it — colleagues, friends, alumni, professors, family members. I reach out to my network often, especially during these times, because cultivating relationships are important to me — and not only when you need or want something. I usually ask: How are you doing? What are you working on? And then include, by the way — “I am working on this, and still looking for this. I’d love to get your thoughts. And keep in touch.” 

9. Have faith and focus. 

Make sure you check LinkedIn and job portals like you check Instagram, or any other platform you are obsessed with. Be obsessed. Your dreams will come true if you put in the time and energy to stay focused and follow through. 

10. Landed a remote job? Here’s how to shine. 

Let’s say you’ve got a job — but you’re not going anywhere but home. You can shine anyway. Be vocal with those you live with about the space, time, and tools you need in your home to work productively — not just busily. Natural lighting, a comfy chair, and privacy works for me.

Talk with your employer about your needs. I moved out-of-state amid the health crisis, which wasn’t easy. I spoke to my immediate supervisor and others I work with and got a few extra days off to get settled. 

It’s OK to feel overwhelmed. There are various crises happening while our lives are still happening. So, take actual breaks. Step away from the screen. Do breathing exercises, stretches, therapy coloring, a walk/run — whatever works for you. Take the time to process what you are feeling and become recharged. And keep dreaming! New goals await. 

6 Key Strategies to Attract High-Performing Graduates

Attracting graduates to a business is essentially an achievable goal given the fact they’re bursting at the seams to gain employment and according to Accenture. It may surprise you, but since only 15 percent want to work for a large company the challenge comes in luring the very top talent. What creative strategies can be utilized to inspire these top performers to want to work for you?

Define your brand

Top performing graduates of any cohort are typically attracted to bigger and subsequently more reputable brand names. If you happen to work within the People and Culture teams at any one of these firms, you’ll likely find it significantly less challenging to attract this talent. If you’re not at one of the larger and more well-known businesses, however, there are still plenty of ways to successfully pitch to top performing graduates.

“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room” – Jeff Bezos

You may be relatively small in financial and hierarchical stature compared to these big business juggernauts but your dreams and hopes for the future are not. Try to integrate plans into your brand image so graduates can share this passion with you and your organization. The brand image doesn’t have to be perfect either, but it shouldn’t be vague. This means a clear message and a strong value proposition. In general, graduates want to know they have a secure and prosperous future with your company and the brand re-affirms this from day one.

What’s your USP?

Consider the unique selling proposition (USP) of your company. What can you offer that others can’t? Fresh graduates tend to demonstrate a keen pursuit for companies that offer flexible working practices, a study by Orange revealed that 69 percent of graduates stated that flexible working hours are important to them. Bear this in mind as this is strategic ammunition if you’re able to compete. Graduates will question if a reasonable combination of work/life balance is on offer at your company and if you’re not currently offering flexibility, it’s likely time to place strong consideration as to whether this can be implemented. Not only will such an offer attract graduates, but it will also be valued by professionals too.

If you’re unsure about the USP of your company, how can a graduate be expected to know? Now is the time to build greater structure into the working lives of new graduates within your business. They seek variety, exposure, and experience, as well as opportunities for social participation, so ensure you build these factors into your strategy.

Scope of skills

In larger companies, graduate recruitment is driven by brand reputation in addition to the promise of a structured graduate program. It may seem difficult to compete, but graduate programs in large companies aren’t always as glossy as they seem, so why not emphasize how the graduate will gain broader exposure to a wider variety of areas within your business? Just a few reasons you can sell to potential grads include:

  • Experience in many areas of the business. From invoicing in the accounts department to sales to project management a varied “hands on” role is deemed as invaluable to some.
  • Daily flexible study time. Consider the costs of not allowing a grad not to study. Not only are they still in that mindset but an hour per day of reading industry related publications and blogs can be more fruitful and less expensive than formal training courses.
  • Cross-departmental collaboration. Working in multi-varied teams can bring a true understanding of the inner workings of business, allows for better problem solving of issues that arise and provides a staff cohesiveness that larger companies usually can’t provide.

Also, consider that a well-structured system of mentorship could be the key to not only attracting young talent but also retaining them for the long-term. This could be as simple as providing regular feedback or as vigorous as daily seminars with a selected colleague who trains them on all aspects of the business from soft to hard skills, company culture to out of work-life skills.

Think of the long-term

As well as short-term exposure, graduates also often have longer term career opportunities at the front of their mind. If the graduate meets required performance targets within their first year of employment, as well as subsequent years, where will this take them? Is there a pathway for future career opportunities within your business?

After graduating from university I initially joined a tech start-up, the salary was healthy; the work was challenging and even the morning coffee tasted great. But, after a year and a half in the job I realized that in my starry-eyed haze of joining my first full-time employer that I had never actually asked about career progression. At a morning meeting one day I brought up the golden question “So, what are the future opportunities here for someone in my position?”.

The CEO stared at me pensively; he didn’t know what to say. After what felt like an eternity, he turned to his whiteboard and began to draw a ladder… yes … a ladder that illustrated the transition from graduate to middle management, to upper management with no time-frames or targets. It was at this point in my self-realization that it was time to move on. I vowed that any future company I worked for should have a planned and transparent career progression before I started work with them.

One of the main problems is not that many SMBs don’t provide this scope of progression it’s just they haven’t sat down and thought out how to explain this progression and sell it to potential candidates. The recruitment process is an opportunity for the graduate to grill you as the employer as well as the other way round, and as a career opportunist, they’ll likely be keen to establish prospective opportunities before deciding to join your business.

Utilize social media

Your social media activity should tie in with your brand and USP message. Recent research has been highly supportive of the fact that word of mouth is one of the most popular ways graduates refer friends to companies. So as well as utilizing traditional on-campus pitching methods as a means of marking, it’s also critical to consider how your company is perceived throughout the year and across various social media platforms. An average student might spend an hour or two at a career fair, but will spend an average of 2-4 hours per day every day of the year, participating in social media activity.

There are many ways to leverage social media to attract talents, but you should define your graduate audience and scope out where they hang out. You could piggyback on a trending topic that fits in with your brand message. Write informative blog posts that help this defined group of graduates with their pain points. Or provide an innovative way for a candidate to apply for your job opening. The methods are plentiful and here are a few ideas to provide inspiration.

Staff representation

Engage your best people to market your business to high performing students. Your top talent – and previous graduates at your company – are well qualified to sell your business and can also share inspirational stories about their success and provide assurance that the career opportunities are real.

As Business Insider suggest, the humble careers fair is still alive and kicking and within half a day of one of these fairs there is a high chance your organization will have met a wide variety of candidates from different majors and backgrounds. This opens up the playing field considerably and when tied in with the well thought out brand and USP can build awareness considerably.

Armed with the ammunition outlined above, you should now be ready to pitch to your target audience. The key to your success in attracting high performing graduates is to create highly engaging, genuine and specifically targeted material that reaffirms your brand message provides a thorough insight into your organization’s practices and culture and allows understanding of future career progression.

A version of the post was first published on

Photo credit: As The World Keeps Turning … via photopin (license)

10 Tips To Forge A Successful Career

No one’s career path is ever a straight road. Invariably we all experience some more windy routes along the way. That doesn’t mean, however, that one can’t make a plan to help you go in broadly the right direction.

Here Are 10 Can’t-Miss Tips To Help Your Career Planning:

  1. First, know yourself; then after explore towards different career options and also figure out which kind of job would certainly suit you best. Have a clear vision of what you actually want to do after completion of your education.
  2. Collect information related to your dream career and compile any data you can get; analyze the skills, abilities required, then match it with your present skills.
  3. There are lots of ways to achieve your goal, so you have to map all the possibilities and you have to figure out how you want to be there.
  4. You should invest your most time in learning so you can have a clearer vision and direction
  5. Be a good listener and listen to your seniors very carefully and without any hesitation feel free to ask. If you ever come across any doubt get the clarification on your doubt.
  6. As you want yourself in a better position in future, you should create your resume with objectives and goals and the things you want for yourself. Resume is the most important thing, which reflects your all educational efforts so you will have to learn how to perform professional resume writing.
  7. Be knowledgeable, on the daily basis read newspaper and keep yourself updated with the latest technologies and information. Google can be your one stop solution.
  8. Rather than wasting your time in hanging out and playing candy crush you should spend your free time with minded people so you can have more creative ideas. You will also have an opportunity to share your knowledge if you have about any recent technology or activity.
  9. Get experience – when you are a new kid on the career block you’ve got to be prepared to start at the bottom and work your way up
  10. While climbing the corporate ladder, make sure to connect with colleagues and clients. Oh, and don’t forget, be nice to those other people climbing the ladder too – you never know where they’ll be in the future!

Image: Big Stock Images

Hiring Graduates: The Challenges

With 30% of companies expecting to hire more graduates in 2015 than in previous years, UK organisations have expressed concerns about sourcing graduates that have sufficient people skills. New research from Hay Group reveals that as many as 80% of HR Directors feel that recruiting graduates with sufficient people skills is a challenge. Are companies who are taking on new graduates just causing themselves more headaches, or are graduates worth investing in?

As you might expect, employers and graduates take a different view on the situation. Statistics show that 90% of HR Directors believe that employees who have good people skills have a greater commercial impact, and 83% disclosed that graduates who didn’t have the necessary emotional and social skills would not become high performers. Countering this, 69% of graduates said that soft skills ‘get in the way of getting the job done’ and believed that they would succeed in their job role irrespective of this.

Are Technical Skills More Important Than People Skills In The Workplace?

Any HR Director worth their salt will say that first and foremost applicants need to have the right technical capabilities in order to succeed, but people skills shouldn’t be overlooked.

While 76% of HR Directors were concerned that graduates were not prepared for the workplace, David Smith, a Consultant at Hay Group, commented that graduates have the potential to develop soft skills on the job. He said: “It’s now down to organisations to recruit and develop graduates in the right way, so they appreciate the role these ‘softer’ skills play in their own development and the value they offer to the business.”

But this may also suggest that what the current stock of HR Directors and what new graduates consider to be people skills could be quite different. While graduates may have the right approach when dealing with other graduates, they need time to settle into the company culture and to pick up on the people skills that are expected of them by seasoned employees.

Are Graduates Worth The Investment?

It costs businesses between £500-£1000 to take on a new graduate. It seems that businesses are doing their best to provide training in order to boost people skills. 91% of HR professionals believe that their organisation has adequate training and 83% say that their managers dedicate more time to developing people skills than technical skills.

How Long Does It Fake for Graduates To Reach Proficiency In People Skills?

There’s no fast track here. The majority of businesses expect it will take between six months to two years for graduates to gain the people skills needed to perform effectively for the business.

Looking to the future, HR aren’t all that confident in graduates either. 77% are concerned for the future leadership of their organisation based on the soft skills of their current graduate employees. Yet perhaps graduates mark a new direction for businesses and will have a greater impact than HR Directors give them credit for.

Graduates Are The Future

By 2020, we can expect that millennials will make up 50% of the workforce and many of them will be recent graduates. Organisations need to put strategies in place to make the best of the skills that each individual in their workplace has, whether they are a seasoned employee or a new graduate. Successful companies know the value of their whole team.