Susquehanna University

Susquehanna University will have a commencement ceremony for the class of 2021 next weekend.

Given we weren’t able to properly celebrate the class of 2020 with a commencement ceremony last year, we have a commencement ceremony for them later this month.

We’re excited to see them — in person — and to hear more about their experiences about entering the job market during a challenging time.

Many of them accepted jobs without ever meeting their boss or seeing their office in person. And, despite having a job for almost a year, several have yet to step foot in an office, since many companies are still transitioning from remote to hybrid environments.

While employment prospects are looking better for the class of 2021, recent graduates may still experience delayed hiring timelines, virtual interview experiences, and might start their roles remotely.

We offer a few tips below to make sure you’re prepared for job searching this season.

Learn your ‘COVID’ pitch

COVID was tough for a lot of people, with many graduates with loved ones who lost their jobs, who relocated due to financial constraints, or even suffered from or lost their life from COVID.

Employers are human — they understand that many students and graduates experienced personal and academic setbacks.

Employers will also look for evidence that you tried to overcome these setbacks and do something positive.

Some might ask, “What have you learned about yourself during this time?” Perhaps you learned a new skill, took on an additional part-time job to contribute to your household, volunteered in your community, or took on a leadership role.

Think about goals you may have set for yourself during this time and how you worked to achieve them.

Leverage social media

During the pandemic, we saw an upswing in virtual networking events as individuals from across the globe were craving connection during the rapid changes that many were facing in their industry.

Prior to the pandemic, companies had already used social media to attract and recruit job candidates.

Now, virtual recruiting as opposed to in person recruiting continues to remain strong due to its relative low cost and accessibility.

Using LinkedIn, make sure you have an updated profile, follow the companies that interest you and their recruiting hashtags (e.g. #LifeAtVanguard) and reach out to potential connections to learn more about their career path and company.

Ensure the privacy settings on your other social media accounts are set so that any potentially compromising material are off limits to employers.

In an age where we’re used to displaying everything online, it’s beneficial to decide what you want public versus private and adjust your privacy settings accordingly.

Consider your digital brand—what are you communicating about who you are online?

Build (free) skills

Many sites are offering free modules where you can gain additional skills and earn certificates of completion.

Often these can be free or very inexpensive. If you have a lull between job searching activity, consider learning something new, especially technical skills employers want evidence of.

Some options that will make you attractive to employers are certificates that show you’re skilled in Microsoft Excel, search engine optimization, Python (or any other type of) coding, and Adobe Creative Cloud.

In addition, listening to podcasts offered in your field can provide sophisticated, and free, information to advance your industry and technical knowledge from the comfort of your own home.

When you interview for a job, you’ll want to speak the language of the industry, and podcasts offer a window into that world.

Landing a job can take time and persistence and progress very rarely happens overnight. Use these three strategies as you build your job search routine. Good luck to the class of 2021 as you transition into the workplace!

Allie Grill is associate director of the Career Development Center at Susquehanna University and Matt Rousu is dean of the Sigmund Weis School of Business at Susquehanna University. Views do not necessarily represent those of their employer.

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