The current Covid-19 pandemic has had major implications for young job seekers. Many early careerists have returned home amidst the outbreak and are adjusting to a new normal – some are completing educational requirements online and adjusting to life surrounded by family; others may be relaunching after losing a job early in their career, stunned and unsure of how to move forward.

Priority Candidates coaches are utilizing their years of experience to help guide job seekers through the current difficult circumstances. While this is an exceptionally challenging time for young job-seekers, here are practical suggestions that will help early careerists maintain momentum in the face of our new normal.

Don’t lose sight of your goals

Take time to relax and utilize the opportunity to do things you would not have otherwise been able to do. Read that novel on the shelf, watch a new movie, listen to a TED talk; but do not idle away your time. It is easy to indulge ourselves at the current moment, spending hours watching Netflix and sharing memes on social media. And this has value – it makes us laugh, and helps us connect with community and culture, transporting us out of the current dilemma – but it’s not helping you build your future.

Re-examine your goals. Consider the reasons you chose your career path and see if the framework for these decisions has changed in any way. Take this time to explore and consider career options – if companies aren’t actively hiring the positions that interest you, research the market for the types of jobs you are seeking in order to better understand what these opportunities may look like when we enter the recovery from the pandemic. Connect with people who are working in these areas now and discuss their vision for the future. You may solidify your desire to pursue a particular job, or find new things to work on related to skills and technology needed to enter a field.

If you had secured (or hoped to secure) a summer internship, understand how companies are shifting their approaches to these programs. For those seeking employment, while some companies are hiring right now, despite the pandemic, the most prevalent jobs might not be the ones an early careerist imagined for themselves. Investigate how freelance, gig work and contractor opportunities are marketed in your area. Be ready for anything.

Master the tools for the times

At Priority Candidates, we encourage everyone, at every stage of life to invest time in mastering the art of the video interview and interactions – and in our current climate, virtual interview skills are more needed than ever. By focusing on these skills, you’ll be prepared to participate in virtual career fairs or other remote hiring opportunities, as these alternatives continue to emerge.

Now is also a great time to focus on developing skills with basic office technology. Mastering platforms like Powerpoint or Excel, or familiarizing yourself with industry-specific software programs, will only serve you well going forward. Try to understand what sophisticated features exist, and learn to utilize them by studying online tutorials and videos. Many training resources are being made freely available – explore which might work best for you, and get learning.

You are not alone in this

Ironically, this period of isolation offers a unique opportunity to connect with others. Use your phone, and video engagement tools, like Zoom and social media to connect with people – check in on how they are personally doing, and tell them what is happening for you and what you are looking to do in the future. Offer to help them with their goals if you can – remember, networking isn’t a one-way street. For right now, focus on finding your tribe and staying in contact. When things get better, hopefully soon, we will all be rushing around to ramp back up – but for now, take advantage of ways to keep in touch while socially distancing.

Structure is key to success

Creating both short-term and long-term plans can be extremely helpful aids during the current outbreak. From a macro-standpoint, try to identify things you’d like to achieve during this time – it could be learning a professional or personal skill, or starting a new hobby. In terms of daily routine – make a schedule each day, planning your time and creating structure and purpose, including: school work, socializing, skill building, exercise, eating and entertainment. While a routine might not be as logistically necessary as usual, maintaining a schedule can be really beneficial to your mental health. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re not adhering to your schedule by the minute – it’s challenging to manufacture structure in an unstructured time – but by creating a daily schedule, you can strive to stay grounded and are more likely to use your time productively.

Find ways to give back

In a time of crisis, while it’s great to focus on bettering yourself, it’s truly important to try to help those around you if you are in a position to do so. Look for ways to give back both big and small. Help your family members and neighbors – you can offer to help with groceries, cleaning, or other household necessities, and proactively reach out to help those who aren’t with you feel less isolated.

With those things on track, take time to explore other opportunities to contribute in the larger community. There are online opportunities to volunteer to do digitization work, or assist with projects in your community. If you are not sure where to begin, to find opportunities, and evaluate if they are a match for you, we have created a framework for you to consider, leveraging ideas suggestions from organizations that inspire those of us at Priority Candidates. Use this to guide you in finding places to share your talents and time that resonate with your interests. Of course, volunteering can help your resume look more robust – but most importantly, giving back in a time of need is a demonstration of your character, and your efforts can go a long way to helping those who truly need it.

Ready for the Recovery

If you or your family have fallen ill, we hope that you are healthy again very soon; if you are healthy, we hope you stay the course.

When society and our medical professionals get this under control, every aspect of the market will have a “let’s get back to business” sense of urgency. We will all have a common storyline in the future, the one we’ll tell when someone asks us, “So, how did you use that time when everything came to a standstill?” While you should use this time to ensure that your personal professional materials are in top shape, such as your resume, LinkedIn Profile and cover letter, and to clean up your digital shadow on social media (removing some of those college photos may be in your best interest), this should go deeper. Chronicle your feelings and try to articulate what you’re learning about yourself, your skills, others; and document what you’ve accomplished. Without a doubt, people in hiring roles (including university clubs) will ask how you got through this and what you focused on. You will want to spend time thinking about this now; which could serve as an impetus for you to take initiative in some of the topics above.

We are all in this together; now is an opportunity to really think about how you want your future to be shaped by this experience. By taking proactive steps now, you can ensure your story will demonstrate that you made the best of an unforeseen opportunity, rather than dwelling on a crisis. If you need help sorting through options related to any of these suggestions, please reach out to us.