By Mike Robertson
Social distancing may be a good way to curb the spread of the coronavirus, but it is not so helpful if you are looking for a job. With many businesses temporarily shut down and/or requiring employees to work remotely, graduating seniors are concerned about being able to start their careers.
College of Charleston Career Center Executive Director Jim Allison understands. He says the Career Center has made some changes to accommodate the new challenges facing graduating seniors.
The Career Center is now fully online, offering a variety of virtual career services to help CofC students with everything from career counseling and resumé writing to internship and job searches, and more. Career Center staff members are available via email, phone or Zoom to support students, review documents and answer any career-related questions. And the center has extended its hours on Wednesdays to include evening drop-ins from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. to better assist students after hours. The evening appointment hours will run through the end of May. The center will evaluate whether to continue those extended hours into June if there is a demand from students.
Allison encourages upcoming graduates to continue developing a job network of faculty, family, friends and others as well as using LinkedIn, Handshake and similar platforms to connect with key contacts in their field. The Career Center is emphasizing students focus on “who’s hiring now” by searching active job postings, whether that’s through the Career Center’s job search board or on sites such as LinkedIn or The Muse. But employers, whether hiring currently or not, are indicating they do want to see students take initiative. And, even if companies are not hiring at the moment, Allison says many recruiters are continuing to keep a list of quality candidates for the future.
“Conscientious outreach and networking are important in these uncertain times, since there is considerable transition and turmoil,” says Allison. “Be thoughtful and professional in all communication.”
Certifications, online learning, Excel database knowledge, web and technology skills as well as personal and professional development, such as learning a language, are all sample areas for enhancement in this challenging environment.
Allison also encourages graduates to be patient. He says it’s too early to predict exactly what the job market will look like in the months to come. Regardless, graduating seniors should prepare now for their job searches.
“We will be working around the clock to assist students – especially May, 2020 seniors – to encourage and support part-time, temporary, retail and similar jobs to build one’s resumé,” Allison says. “Transferable skills, such as writing, critical thinking, customer relations and communication are important, regardless of the job and that means almost any relevant experience will likely help you, the student, in long-term career development and progression.”