Job/Internship Searching During COVID-19 Outbreak - Part 2



By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.

Most career development experts are cautiously optimistic about the job and internship markets.  We recently published an article that offered you tips on searching for opportunities amidst the current public health crisis.  Our first important piece of advice: despite the uncertainty, don’t sit back and wait - get moving now!  This article’s primary message is to network - network - network! 
The director of the University Career Center, Bill Fletcher, said while students need to get moving along with their searches now, they must also come to grips with the fact that these are not normal times and that impacts the process. “Job searching in difficult economic times requires a different approach than what most students are accustomed to during a prosperous economy.  When jobs are plentiful, it is a candidate’s job market. They can look at job boards and apply to positions.  When there are fewer positions, it is an employer’s market.  Everyone is looking at job boards and the volume of candidates is huge.  To be competitive in a COVID-19 economy, candidates will have to be more targeted and deliberate in their job search.”  
And according to Fletcher, that puts even more emphasis on one type of job search strategy.  “Students should be leveraging networking to tap into what is called ‘the hidden job market.’  It is commonly accepted that the vast majority of positions are filled without ever being posted (good or bad economy). If they are posted, hiring managers have often begun networking to source talent before the posting hits any job board.  Employers will expect candidates to be able to articulate their skills and abilities as related to the field or organization, have impeccable resumes and cover letters, and have a network of people who can advocate for them.  Finding these ‘unposted’ or ‘hidden’ jobs is accomplished through contacts who can provide candidates with information.”
When searching for an internship or job, it is always important, public health crisis or not, to network. Nationally, about 70% of college students find out about their first entry-level job via a networking contact. Set up a very specific networking plan. Make a list of everyone you know.  You won’t be able to meet with all these people in person, but you can send them an email, text, call them on the phone or meet virtually to catch up, let them know you are looking, and find out if they know of anyone you can contact to build your network out further.
The associate director of the University Career Center, Donna Lee, advises students to consciously work to advance  their network. “Who is in your circle of influencers? Be intentional in reaching out to them.  And you can do a lot of that on LinkedIn.” 
Among the people and groups Lee suggests students reach out to: “Faculty, they have contacts in industry.  Some of them are alums from the University of Louisville. Are you affiliated with any professional organizations on campus or in the ‘real world?’  Are you in a social fraternity or sorority? You should be able to build contacts there.  Are you following organizations that interest you? Again that’s also a possible source for contacts.”
When you access LinkedIn, be active on the platform. Commenting on posts and sharing articles or posts will help you to connect to more people.  For more information, see our articles Using LinkedIn Part 1 and Part 2.  This Forbes Article has excellent advice as well.  Finally, you can watch the recording of our previous workshop on Networking with LinkedIn for information on setting up your account and connecting with others.   
Here’s one other strategy for you to consider in the midst of COVID-19. University Career Center director Bill Fletcher suggests you use the local business newspaper to source leads.  Most major metropolitan areas have these types of publications - here it’s Louisville Business First. “Some students may think they are not majoring in business so why look at the business newspaper?  These publications cover what is happening in areas such as health care, education, non-profit, social service, research, government, etc.  In essence, everyone works in ‘business.’ Recently, a health care company announced in one of these publications that it was continuing its rapid expansion into three states and had quotes from several executives in the organization. How many different majors could be employed in numerous career fields with a company that has 225 locations in 12 states?  This is a bona-fide lead for a job search candidate.”  
In our previous article on the topic of job searches in the midst of the pandemic, we acknowledged that given the situation, it may not be easy for you to readily find that entry-level job or internship.  But with networking, sourcing all possible publications and position listings, preparation and persistence, it may take time but you will move forward.  So don’t sit around - get moving now!  For more assistance, be sure to connect with your UofL career center including the University Career Center, Speed/Engineering, Business and Law Schools.
We will also have an upcoming virtual workshop on the topic on May 20 at 12 noon.  Bill Fletcher will offer tips on networking, uncovering “hidden” opportunities and more during this session. To register, go to this link.