In the COVID-19 era, the job market has experienced deep impact. The staff in the Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD) are working with our professional organizations, employers, and labor data sources to gauge how to best instruct Mercerians on navigating their job search. Here is a list of credible job search resources addressing the challenges of today's job market. To the Class of 2020 and all of Mercer's job seekers, we recommend the following steps.
Steps to Implementing a Successful Job Search:
(View a CCPD recorded webinar about job search here.)
- Identify your target job. This is the first step of a job search and it is often overlooked. An effective job search starts with knowing what you want and where you want to end up next (not for the rest of your career). What industry? What size company? What type of culture? What job function(s)? What location? Take time to write down answers to these questions. For career exploration and job analysis, utilize the O*Net site.
- Find job announcements of your target job. Read them. Study them. Get to know exactly what the employers are looking for to fill your target job. Note your gaps; things you’re missing in your candidacy. You’ll want to know if you’re missing crucial qualifications.
- Prepare your job search marketing collateral. (Resume or CV, Job Search Letter, LinkedIn Profile, etc.) Your marketing documents and digital profiles should align directly to the needs of the employers hiring for your target positions.
- Build out your Handshake profile. Utilize the sections fully. Select the “community” setting so your profile can be found by students, alumni, and employers. View a recorded webinar on using Handshake and Big Interview.
- Create a target employer list. When you don’t have something to aim for, you won’t hit your target. This list will guide your networking, your market watch, your news gathering, and the rest of your job search activity. Hopefully, you have already searched for target job announcements (step 2). Try toggling back and forth between listing job titles and employers during your target job study. Put yourself in discovery mode and list each possible target employer you come across during your research. You can always narrow the list as you progress.
- Pay attention to who is hiring! The impact of COVID-19 has affected industries differently. Handshake is publishing 500 Companies Hiring Students on Handshake Right Now on a weekly basis and are posting on their Instagram and Twitter even more fresh employer updates. The CCPD staff recently compiled a list of companies that are still hiring during the pandemic on this resource page. Additionally, the Business Journals throughout the U.S. consistently report employers who are hiring. (by city)
- Practice interviewing using your device camera on the Big Interview site. (Big Interview is offered to Mercerians free of charge and it is accessible through your Handshake account.) Get comfortable with being on camera. Today’s virtual world will require you to use your camera. You must be savvy and comfortable seeing yourself and talking via a device.
- Stand out as a professional on your social media. Intentionally go to your social media streams and look through the lens of an employer. Gauge what you see through their eyes. Are you representing yourself as a top-notch candidate worthy of their brand? See to it that you do. Here are 8 social media tips to help.
- Take initiative and reach out. Now that your marketing is view-ready, be intentional and reach out to your network. Think beyond your immediate network. It’s often a 2nd or 3rd tier connection that can offer to help. Approach connections with gratitude and a willingness to reciprocate. Use your target employer list as your guide for connection. Don't be afraid to invite someone for a “Virtual Meetup” on one of the popular teleconferencing platforms. This is the new normal. Turn on your web cam so you can be seen. Seeing someone is much more effective for networking than just chatting. Be sure to have your elevator speech ready so that it comes off naturally.
- Be intentional in planning campaigns that put your candidacy in front of people. Your job search is truly a sales campaign. You are your only sales team. Consider a cold-call, cold-email, and a network campaign. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, many employers and Mercer alumni will be gracious to the class of 2020. They could be in a position to consider a candidate for a job, internship, or perhaps some project-based work. With poise and professionalism, pitch to help them solve some type of business pain or complete a tedious project. Opportunities arise that were not forecasted. This is an example of the hidden job market.
- Track your search activities as well as you would for a report to a boss. If scrolling through your email inbox is your method for knowing where you have applied and what responses you are getting, you must not be serious about your search. Get serious. Track every single application, know the job title, the date you applied, and the dates and methods you used to follow-up. (Yes, following up is really necessary.) Consider using this spreadsheet, a site like JibberJobber.com, your favorite notes app, a dedicated word processing document, or even a paper notebook.
Mercerians are equipped to handle the hurdles of this job market.
Mercerians were put here for times like these. Even in challenging times, our purpose is never lost. We will emerge stronger than ever. If you’re a Mercerian, you’ve seen these words lately. Stop and think about it. You have thrived in a rigorous university and in life. You have trekked through challenging circumstances and maybe even treacherous terrain to get where you are today. It hasn’t been easy, that’s for sure. All the while, you kept your purpose tucked safely. It drove you and empowered you to make it here. You have already emerged stronger than you were before; before Mercer.
It is time for you to deploy your talents to positively impact the world.
It is time for you to land the job that waits for you after Mercer. Although we would all like it if there was a reliable formula that would always yield us the dream job on our timeline, we know that no such formula exists. So, following the advice from family, faculty, working professionals, alumni, and the Mercer career staff, lift your search off the ground and get started. It's going to take time, patience, and consistent effort.
Don’t be afraid to try new things.
Avoid rigid thinking when it comes to job choice. Mercer alumni will attest, not every career turn is forecasted or sought. Be open to trying a job that seems interesting, even if it wasn't the job you had envisioned. Remain optimistic and flexible, and try to turn unplanned events into opportunities. Someone somewhere is looking for exactly what you have to offer.
We can help.
If you need help identifying your target job or implementing your job search, students and alumni may schedule an appointment with our career consultants via Handshake. Together, we will help you conduct a modern, competitive job search.