The top of a laptop with the Handshake website homepage open. Above is a post it not that says "to do: get a job!" and a button that says I *heart* USC

Tips for navigating the job market during the COVID-19 pandemic

Whether you’re a recent graduate looking for your first job out of college, or a current student hoping to land the perfect internship, finding employment in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic is challenging to say the least. With many companies putting hiring on hold, it is now more important than ever to stand out amongst a stack of resumes.

The career center and career services within your college or school offer resources and guidance that can help you make strides toward achieving your career goals, even during such uncertain times. Below are some ways you can be proactive when it comes to finding a job.

Showcase your best self

To make a good first impression, make sure your resume and cover letter are perfect. Your resume is a brief highlight of your education, experiences and skills. It is designed to attract the attention of potential employers and get you to the next step in your job search. Your cover letter is your opportunity to show an employer that you have researched their company and you have relevant experiences that will benefit them. You want to spark their interest and get them to look more closely at your resume.

For more information about how to construct your resume and cover letter, visit the Career Center website.

Once your resume and cover letter are complete, make sure you have a pair of fresh eyes look over it. You can attend a virtual drop-in appointment Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Stay on top of job postings

Carve out some time each day to look through job boards like Handshake, Linkedin or Indeed. Many positions are filled very quickly after they are posted on job boards. Consistently monitor postings so you can be an early applicant.

Handshake is the career center's online career management platform. Employers partner with the career center to post open positions through Handshake. Students and alumni can use it to search positions, post resumes, sign up for on-campus interviews, find out about job fairs and events and network with employers.

Ace the interview

Once you’ve wow’d employers with your application, the next step is the interview. Interviews can be nerve-wracking at first, but being prepared will help you ace it. Research the company thoroughly and have questions prepared. You can also use the web-based program Big Interview to practice your interviewing skills.

You can select your questions and a professional interviewer will appear on your screen and ask them. Respond just as you would in a real interview. You can record an unlimited amount of practice interviews and send them to professors, friends and career center staff for review and feedback. 

This also will help with being prepared for online interviews. Just remember to make sure your technology is ready prior to the virtual interview.

Use your time wisely

If you have extra time on your hands while searching for a job, find an opportunity to volunteer. Volunteering gives you valuable experience while looking for a job, demonstrates your personal values and shows employers that you use your time wisely.

One way to help the community and contribute to your community's handling of COVID-19 is to become a contact tracer. According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, contact tracing  is the process of interviewing those who have tested positive for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, determining who they have been in close contact with, and connecting with those people to gather information and provide guidance to help them stay well and limit spread of the disease.

Find a mentor

Speaking with someone who is already successful in your field can help you build connections and take the right steps to get the job you want. Reach out to a professor with experience in your field for mentorship. Another way to find a mentor is to research individuals who have your dream job and reach out to them for advice.

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