By: Peer Career Coach Xochitl Castel

“For nothing contributes so much to tranquilize the mind as a steady purpose – a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye.” -Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

Congratulations to the class of 2020! I offer sincerest commiseration to anyone still searching for a job, but I am here to tell you not to give up. This is not a time to lose hope because economic recessions and depressions will come and they will go. If you are struggling to find a job, or fill your time productively, consider these tips.

Continue to apply.

Although some companies have laid off workers or reduced hours, there are still positions that need to be filled. Economists suggest job-seekers be open to a temporary career shift and settling for a position that is not their dream job. What is most important is that you obtain a job, so if you can find one in a position that utilizes your skills differently than you initially hoped, take it. Take any opportunity that comes your way now because it may be a good learning experience and remember that it is temporary. Read the 2 Hour Job Search by Steve Dalton, to guide you in an efficient job search strategy and to keep you organized. The book also offers tips on informational interviews and email etiquette. You can also find Dalton on Youtube!

Develop your technical skills.

Remember those projects you have been talking about for months but never had the time to delve into? Well, now is  the perfect time to pick up projects and expand your understanding of fundamental skills related to your major. You can add these projects to your resume/website which will impress prospective employers. Look at job descriptions to get an idea of what skills companies are looking for in a candidate and get a headstart on learning them. It will make you a better contender for the position when the job market rises. 

Update your documents & profiles. Reflect on your personal brand.

If you are not active on LinkedIn, change that. Update your resume, LinkedIn profile, and any other profiles, to start making connections or reconnecting with your network. Follow companies that interest you and share content with your networks! 

Design your life and career by developing your personal brand. In order for others to get to know you, you must know yourself first. One great way to learn about yourself is by taking the CliftonStrengths Assessment. It is a free resource for IIT students which gives you a list of your personal top five strengths from a list of 34 talents. These strengths can help you understand and develop yourself as an individual, peer, and employee. Read more about Strengths Quest here.

You can also ask yourself important questions like: “What is your highest goal?”; “What are you passionate about?”; “Where do you want to be in five years?”. PCC Esteban Lopez’s article Why it is Important to Know Yourself in Career Development delves deeper into the importance of getting to know yourself.

Consider higher education or continuing education.

I asked advice from architecture professor, Steve Pantazis, who has been through an economic recession. His advice: “The safest place to be during a time like this is academia”. If you have been considering graduate school, this might be the sign you have been waiting for. Developing yourself as an academic can benefit your future job search because a graduate degree can open more doors of opportunity. 

Also, consider taking online courses this summer! Plenty of services, like Udemy, Coursera, and Skillshare have discounted their courses or offered them for free in the wake of the pandemic. The skills you develop from these courses can be added to your resume and LinkedIn and be a topic of conversation during interviews.

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As Mary Shelley writes, the best thing to do in a time like this is to stay busy. Occupy yourself with activities that will improve your personal brand and technical skills. Make sure to create a balance between these activities and self care activities, and do not forget your hobbies! As always, you can reach out to Career Services for an in-depth review of the 2 Hour Job Search and other job search strategies, or to prepare for a virtual interview.

 

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