Searching for Jobs and Career Planning in the Age of COVID-19

Photo: olezzo

In the last few months, there seems to be a never-ending list of worries and concerns. On the top of many students’ lists is the unrelenting task of looking for jobs in a market that seems to be drying up before our eyes. But if you look a little closer, things aren’t as hopeless as they may seem.

Below is a list of links and advice from UVic’s Career Services on how to take the next steps in looking for employment opportunities and ways to continue your career planning in the age of COVID-19.

1. Do your research. 

If you’re a co-op student or part of the Work Experience program, you may be familiar with some of the wonderful resources UVic has to offer. But as a co-op student myself, I did not realize how far reaching and diverse these resources were.

For example, Career Services has a whole page where they have compiled information about successfully searching for and applying for jobs this summer. Ranging from advice about resumes and cover letters, to links to job posting sites where you can find a range of opportunities that continue to be open to students, this is a one-stop-shop for pointing you in the right direction on your job search. Check out UVic’s Shift Into Summer page.

2. Reach out to your career educator.

Thinking about post-university life is anxiety inducing at the best of times, but given our present situation, thoughts of the future can be downright paralyzing. And sometimes even short-term career planning can be daunting. But did you know there are people you can talk to about to make sure you keep on track with your long-term career goals?

They’re our career educators at Career Services! Divided by faculty, your career educator can give you advice on how to search for jobs this summer, interview tips, and help guide you through graduate school research and applications. “Your career educator can help you create an action plan unique to your circumstances,” says career educator Joy Andrews. “They’ll support you to overcome challenges you might be facing and to take advantage of opportunities that are available so you can continue to work towards a career you’ll love.”

Find your career educator’s contact information and book an appointment with them to chat by phone or video conference! 

3. Carve out your own opportunities.

Did you know that there are a variety of funding opportunities available to employers to encourage them to hire students and graduates? Some of these grants, such as the BC Tech Grant and Magnet, require some leg work from the student’s end, and you can pitch yourself to organizations and companies that interest you once you are approved for the grant.

Each funding opportunity works slightly differently, but many are intended to subsidize the wages the employer would pay to take on a student. “Be sure to contact your career educator to help you navigate this information and to use it in your work search,” says Joy. Find more information about funding opportunities

When talking to Joy, she also recommended reaching out to friends and family to let them know what you’re looking for. Ask them if they know anyone doing the kind of work that you’re interested in. You might be surprised by what you find! And do not be deterred from volunteering opportunities. 

Of course, an income is very important to all students, but this might be the time to beef up your resume with experience in a field of interest to you, or you might find yourself volunteering in a field you never considered before! Not to mention volunteering is an opportunity to make a difference in the community. Check out UVic’s volunteer webpage.

4. Use this time to tighten up your resume and cover letter writing skills. 

This is a resource I come back to again and again. You might be like me and have been using the same resume format since the 10th grade, and just copying and pasting your cover letters with minor changes. But I’ve learned that writing a good cover letter and making your resume as user friendly and appealing as possible is an honest to goodness art. Get more info on how to spruce up your resume and cover letter writing skills.

5. Continue to network virtually.

Networking is such a huge part of getting to know potential employers and putting your name and resume out there. Of course, networking events can’t work quite the same way given social distancing protocols, but you can continue to reach out and put yourself out there virtually.

Update your LinkedIn profile, or maybe even scour through Instagram and Twitter for potential employment opportunities. Joy also recommends exploring what other grads from your program are doing with their degree, or maybe join an online professional group! Reach out to people and groups who interest you via phone or email, but just keep in mind that present circumstances may mean they’re unavailable at this time.

6. Be flexible and create a plan.

Things change so quickly these days, it’s important to have a general plan of what you’d like to accomplish in mind, but it’s also important to be flexible and diligent so you can take advantage of unexpected opportunities.

When speaking to Joy, she suggested that students have an inspiring goal that they continue to work towards, but to work on short-term goals on a day-to-day basis. This can be applying to one or two jobs a day, working on personal passion projects such as a blog or developing a website, or compiling some research on funding opportunities.

Don’t be afraid to reach out and use the resources above to help you create this plan and maybe ease your mind about the stresses of finding a job in a time when everything seems to be up in the air. The opportunities are out there if we just keep looking! Which brings me to my final point.

7. Be persistent and don’t give up in your job search! 

In the midst of all this uncertainty and bleak news headlines about the economy, it’s really easy to get discouraged when applying for jobs and to develop a “what’s the point?” mentality. But you have to remember, though you may feel like your chances of finding a job are minimal, you zero the possibility of getting hired somewhere if you don’t apply at all.

Joy gave this sage advice, “It can help to approach the [job] search as more of a marathon than a sprint. Use your great organizational skills that you developed as a student and approach your work search as a project that you’re managing that will pay off once you find your job.”

I hope these tips and resources are as useful and encouraging to you as they were to me. Searching for jobs in the age of COVID-19 is stressful but not hopeless. And please remember that you don’t have to do it alone!

I would also like to give a special thank you to Joy Andrews from Career Services for her help and advice when writing this post!

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