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Career advice for graduates and young professionals
Employability for new graduates and young professionals amid COVID-19 is a crucial area of concern, with little to no opportunities available and many people having lost their jobs, understandably making it even more difficult for those at the start of their careers.
During a recent webinar hosted by The University of Queensland Young Professionals Series titled, “COVID-19 and Career: How to stay relevant during uncertain times”, the challenges around how new and upcoming graduates, as well as young professionals in their first three years of work, can best position themselves for their first or next career move were addressed.
Paul Chen, Finance Associate Manager at Page Personnel facilitated and co-panelled the webinar, after previously graduating from UQ at the end of 2012 with a Bachelor of Commerce degree (Major in Finance). The webinar discussion was framed around Q&A from attendees.
“You might not land your dream job right now so focus on five to 10 companies you want to apply for and keep them on your radar and keep applying for those roles – everyone’s career path and journey is different,” Chen said.
“Moderating UQ’s webinar aligns well with PageGroup’s global purpose of changing lives through creating opportunities so that individuals can reach their potential. By sharing my insights as a recruiter, I was able to help support candidates who are new grads or young professionals during this challenging time.
“Most importantly, stay resilient. You are not alone as we are all in this situation together.”
Career advice and tips for new graduates and young professionals:
1. Understand that employability has been redefined
In the current climate, you must be strategic in your approach. For example, targeting companies who are actively hiring and identifying more niche employers. Tap into your network and learn how to translate, frame and market your transferrable skills into terms that your future employer will value and appreciate.
2. Apply and follow through with your job applications
While there has been a slight incline in job postings and workplaces begin to reopen as lockdowns start to lift, we are far from returning to “normal”. There are less job openings and it will be a highly competitive employment market for some period. As such, you must make all your job applications count. Apply for roles where your interests and skills are aligned. Also, be sure to follow up with the company on your applications as majority of people fail to do so. It’s not difficult to make a follow-up a call or email.
3. Use this time to invest in yourself
Rather than applying for job after job with no luck, take advantage of beginning a passion project or side gig that you’ve always wanted to start or engage in volunteer work. While it may not necessarily be linked to your dream job, it demonstrates to future employers and hiring managers that you are motivated, self-driven and entrepreneurial. We may never have this amount of time available again, so relevant upskilling and personal development will strongly assist with your chances of success in your future job search.
4. Identify and highlight what makes you stand out
Use this time to also step back to assess what your personal brand is, as it allows you to reposition yourself. Once you’ve clarified and developed your personal brand, inject this into your CV and cover letter, ensuring that you tailor them to each role you apply for. Don’t forget to do the same with your LinkedIn profile. Give yourself the best representation possible in this highly competitive job market.
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5. Be even more proactive with your CV, cover letter and approach
A poorly written CV or cover letter will not land you an interview nor a job in this climate. If anything, you should be investing greater effort into these two important documents to ensure you stand out. Employers who are hiring will be able to recognise the level of effort put in by job applicants. With your job application approach, try other avenues: pick up the phone, find out who you can speak to about roles, or network your way into a role. Again, it’s about thinking outside the box and being strategic during these challenging times.
6. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice
Leverage your network and reach out to industry professionals for their advice. Their insights will assist your job search and help you to target companies that are currently hiring or have intentions to resume recruiting again soon. This is also a vital step in building relationships with those in your industry and can help in how you plan out your long-term career.
The webinar was presented by the UQ Young Alumni Advisory Board.