We are entering the time of year when college students are getting ready to graduate. Typically, new grads are filled with excitement, anticipation and a little nervousness about entering the real world.
Well, this season will definitely be more challenging and anxiety-ridden than years prior. Of course, there are the usual worries about putting together a resume, building a LinkedIn profile, networking and preparing an elevator pitch. You’ll also be overwhelmed with selecting the right company and job.
But this year there is a new concern: How can you interview when companies have asked their staff to work from home and there are only skeleton crews at the office?
There is a rising fear of spreading or catching the COVID-19 virus. People involved with the hiring process are halting in-person interviews; therefore, you’ll need a new game plan. Companies are focusing now on video and phone interviews. They both have their positives and drawbacks.
With phone interviews, you can’t see the interviewer or the office. Unfortunately, you’ll miss out on social cues, which will tell you that they liked or disliked how you answered a question.
As a new grad, you may not feel as comfortable on the phone as Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers. So what should you do? Practice conducting mock phone interviews (reach out to me for assistance!) A great benefit of a phone interview is that you can write notes and keep them in front of you while talking. It will keep you focused and on-topic for sure.
Video interviews are becoming more popular (even before COVID-19) and offer the closest resemblance to an in-person meeting. You may have conducted enough FaceTime conversations that you’re more comfortable with this mode of interaction. Just beware as you may find it easy to fall back into an informal tone. Remember that this is an interview and you need to keep it professional sounding and looking (make sure you are dressed appropriately!).
HOW DO YOU PREPARE?
Well, social-distancing will probably last awhile, so my suggestion? Build a social media presence that can serve as a marketing tool:
- Create a robust and creative LinkedIn profile.
- Connect with people at companies that you’d like to work with on the social media platform.
- Specifically target hiring managers, human resources professionals and people with roles you are interested in (make sure you showcase the value you will be adding to them. Don't just showcase a "ME-mindset" and the the taker in the relationship!
- Set up a website or blog to showcase who you are, what makes you special and why a company should hire you.
- When you DO submit resumes, follow up. Be politely persistent.
Yes, there are significant down-ticks in the stock market, daily fears over COVID-19, and a weakened economy. And your job search may take longer than the graduates of prior years. But you know what? If you develop thick skin, stay focused, and mentally and emotionally strong - you'll make it!
It's completely understandable to feel confused, upset and frustrated that after working so hard and incurring large sums in college debt, you now have to face a once-in-a-generation challenging job market.
Temper your expectations so that you wont get disappointed if this takes a long time. Given the disruptions at companies, it's likely that you won't often hear back from them. Give them grace. The interview process will be rocky as companies are mainly focused on looking after their employees first and figuring out how to navigate this tough time period.
One thing I want you to know - You will get through this. Tough times make tough people. And the only place we can go is UP. It may be hard at first, but down the road, you’ll be proud that you had the guts to push forward in the face of adversity and prevailed against all of the obstacles in your path!