For college students and recent graduates, entering the workforce can present challenges at any time – and many have increased as a result of the pandemic. While unemployment rates have been on the rise, the right preparation and approach can help ensure you have what it takes to successfully get and maintain a job.
Here are five tips to help ensure you are ready to enter today’s workforce:
- Strengthen your resume and cover letter – From video interviews to electronic applicant tracking systems, many employers are continuing to shift the ways they conduct their hiring processes. However, it remains important for job candidates to have a strong resume and cover letter. These should include relevant content that aligns with the needs of each job role for which you are applying. In both your resume and cover letter, go beyond highlighting what you have worked on and demonstrate your value by sharing problems you have solved and outcomes you’ve achieved as a result of your experiences. In addition to focusing on skills, experience, and accomplishments, include key words from the job description to ensure your resume will clear applicant tracking systems. If you are a job seeker with a disability looking for resume support and training to enhance and expand your skills, check out NBDC’s Disability Employment Source (DES).
- Reach out to your networks – Now, more than ever, when entering the workforce, you should reach out to your networks of support to seek guidance and insight on how to navigate your field(s) of interest. Contact mentors, internship managers, and college career services offices. While these people may not have immediate connections to job opportunities, they can be on the lookout for you. Even if your connection feels new or small, aim to reach out by email, phone, or on a social network.
- Prepare your virtual space – Many employers are moving to fully virtual or hybrid in-person virtual work environments. This often means conducting virtual hiring processes that include video interviews. Take time to identify the appropriate technology for your space, such as identifying or purchasing a web camera, microphone, and headphones, if necessary. Be sure to charge and test any technology before your interviews. Additionally, identify a clear, quiet and distraction-free space for interviews and other networking events.
- Hone your presentation/communication skills – Being able to present/communicate well is essential to employment success. This includes displaying proper professional etiquette and communicating confidently and clearly. Ask friends and those in your network to host mock interviews with you or practice speaking in a mirror. Prepare an elevator speech to practice sharing about your interests, education, and experience. Also, if you’re a person with a disability and will need accommodations to participate in an interview or on the job, prepare to articulate those requests as needed throughout the hiring process.
- Participate in Career Prep Opportunities, including internships – While the job market has hit a downturn, many employers are still committed to preparing rising leaders for the workforce. This includes career readiness opportunities such as mentoring and internship programs. For example, NBDC’s Emerging Leaders Internship Program for College Students with Disabilities is a great pathway to workforce development skills and employment. This program places undergraduate and graduate college students with disabilities in fulfilling internships nationwide that provide them with meaningful leadership development and networking opportunities. For more information, visit https://www.viscardicenter.org/nbdc/emerging-leaders-students/.
What are you doing to help ensure you’re ready to take on today’s workforce?