It’s no secret that this hasn’t been the most amazing summer for many students and new graduates. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected almost all aspects of life, and students and new graduates have been hit particularly hard.
TalentEgg’s 2020 Student and New Graduate COVID-19 Career survey has shown that 77% of students and 53% of new graduates and early career professionals have lost a job as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic.
So if you didn’t get that internship, or lost an opportunity this summer – you’re not alone! Keep reading to find out what you can do in your free time to gain valuable experience, solidify your career goals, and get yourself ready for fall recruitment!
1. Update your resume
You’ve got the time – update your resume! Start by updating your work and volunteer experience – think about activities that you’ve done over the summer. Even if you’re not working, maybe you helped implement a project, volunteered with a charitable organization, or you took an online course. Anything that shows that you’ve developed your skills or gained experience is worth noting!
Take some time to critically analyze the descriptions of your positions. Do they show you in the best light possible? Do they highlight your specific achievements in your role? Do they show measurable progress?
Try reframing your responsibilities in a new way that shows skill development and quantifiable achievement. For example, in a retail role instead of saying “helped customers find clothing items”, say “applied knowledge of product styles and sizes to assist ~10 customers per hour ”. This shows a skill (applying prior knowledge to solve problems), how you applied it, and quantifies it (helped 10 customers per hour ).
2. Update your LinkedIn profile
Is your LinkedIn profile picture more than a year old? Haven’t gotten around to adding your most recent work or volunteer experience? You’re not alone. Keep your page up-to-date, because you never know which recruiters might be viewing your profile! Before fall recruitment begins, it’s crucial to have an up-to-date LinkedIn profile, so why not get a head start on it?
3. Set up virtual coffee chats with people working in your desired field
Now that your LinkedIn profile is updated, there’s no better time to connect with professionals working in your desired career field! Speaking directly to people working in your field is a great way to learn more about the position specifics, the soft and hard skills needed for the role, and how you can get an interview. Reach out to a variety of people; individuals who have recently been hired can tell you about the application, interviewing and on-boarding process that they recently went through. Individuals who have been with the company for longer can tell you more about the skills they use on a day-to-day basis and what they’ve learned from the role.
Don’t forget – platforms like LinkedIn are tools to help you expand your network! Search for people working in positions that you want to interview for, or companies that you’re interested in and send them a personalized message asking them for a quick virtual coffee chat. Remember, more specific messages generally get better responses! Check out this article on how you can ace your virtual networking!
With more free time, you have more time to engage in coffee chats and learn more about your dream positions! So take this time to get comfortable with messaging people whose positions you want to learn more about – it’s a great skill to have!
Don’t be afraid to highlight volunteer experience on your resume, and write a bit about what you learned and contributed in this role. Employers love to see a candidate who is versatile in experience, and who is willing to spend time giving back to their community. Moreover, volunteering is a great way to develop skills like teamwork, problem solving, and communication in a lower-commitment capacity.
Currently, there are so many ways that you can volunteer formally or informally. For example, you can join a Facebook group for volunteers looking to help vulnerable people with errands and other tasks during the pandemic. Many local food banks and clinics are also looking for volunteers to help cope with excess demand right now – look on their websites or give them a call to see if you can volunteer part time.
You can also check out charitable volunteer positions on CharityVillage.
5. Plan your career path
Whether you know exactly what you want to do career wise, or haven’t got a clue, planning your career path is a great way to prepare yourself for new roles you want to apply for in September. If you know what you want out of a career, you’ll know where to look for roles, and you can easily narrow down your list.
With TalentEgg’s COVID-19 Job Prep Checklist, we’ve done the hard work of creating the list that you can use to identify important job aspects. Use these to determine what characteristics you want your ideal career to have! See it here.
6. Pick up a (productive) new hobby
Don’t underestimate the power of a hobby to teach you crucial new skills that you might even be able to add to your resume! Some productive hobbies may include video or photo editing, web design, learning an instrument or a language, or getting acquainted with software like Microsoft Excel or Python.
If you can learn a skill from it, and have fun doing it, then why not? By adding it to your resume you can also show recruiters a little bit more about your personality and interests, which is always a great thing.
7. Become a contributor with TalentEgg
If you love writing and are passionate about career development, TalentEgg is hiring student and graduate contributors for this blog: The Incubator! Spend your summer improving your writing skills, learn more about best practices for developing your career, and get published!
Even without a career this summer, you still have so many opportunities to develop your skills and experience, fine-tune your resume, and more! Think of this summer as a reset button – don’t forget to spend some time relaxing, but remember to keep your eye on your career goals!