Q: My son just graduated from college and is struggling with finding a job during this pandemic. What advice can you give a recent college grad?
A: The pandemic has created quite a bit of instability in our economy, both locally, nationally and even worldwide. The unemployment rate in Massachusetts is hovering around 16%, one of the worst in the nation. Prior to March, 2020, the Commonwealth enjoyed an unemployment rate of under 3% for more than one year. The pandemic impacted many Massachusetts businesses in April, 2020. Hospitality was hit hard, as were personal services.
The summer is always a bit of a slower time with hiring, but that does not mean your son should head to the beach. Instead, here are some recommendations:
- Maintain a connection with the career services office of his college. Often employers share opportunities with the career services offices of colleges. At some colleges, an alum can participate in different events, whether virtual job fairs or webinars presented by more established alums.
- Ensure that his resume is crisp, concise and error-free. The font should be a simple one, as many employers have applicant tracking systems (ATS) which scan resumes. Fancy fonts sometimes don’t scan well.
- Suggest that he build and/or complete his LinkedIn profile. Make sure that there is a professional photo and that his profile is rich (vs. a “thin” one that has very little about your son’s work history). The work experience and summary should be completed, and there should be consistency with your son’s resume. This is critical as hiring professionals will find him if your son’s profile includes key words related to his ideal role. Ask him to start sending connection requests. Connection requests are important as a professional network is key to learning about job opportunities. He can also follow companies and set up job alerts on LinkedIn. Additionally, your son should comment on posts that might be related to his career interests.
- Practice video interviewing. Most of our clients are using telephone or video interviews as a first step. A quiet space free of distractions and a good connection are both important. Also, a camera check is recommended.
- Finally, make sure that your son knows the importance of a thank-you note. Even for an informational interview, a thank-you note should be sent. In most cases, a thank-you email is sufficient.
It is a tough market for sure. Some industries are beginning to hire again. Don’t sit on the sidelines. Companies are hiring!
Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Boston.com Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.