Photo: Free To Use Sounds
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.