6 ways new graduates and career starters can focus the job-hunt

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Job-hunting during an economic crisis such as the one caused by the coronavirus pandemic is difficult for anybody, but it can be particularly disheartening for new graduates and career starters.

The job-hunting environment has changed, but it’s critical now to increase your efforts and use your time wisely.

Here are six ways to focus your job-hunt, grow your network and gain skills along the way.

Job offers, work placements and internships

If you’ve received an offer of employment, acceptance onto a graduate scheme or an internship for intake this year, seek advice from your university’s career and recruitment advisers. Depending on whether they were directly involved in placing you, they will be able to offer you either specific advice or at least some guidance around how to approach the employer.

When reaching out to an employer, be mindful that the company could be suffering financially and furloughing staff or making redundancies. Show sensitivity and understanding. Your offer may have been put on hold or worse. In either case you could offer to help on projects and show willingness to pitch in. You could negotiate a position as a contractor or an intern, which would put you in good stead once a recovery is underway.

Be open-minded and prepared to adapt your plans

Don’t throw your dreams aside, but be flexible. If the type of company or sector you’d love to work in is one of the worst affected by the crisis, take a sidestep and find another avenue. This might mean working for firms in different industries in different locations and in a role you’re not passionate about, but it’s a step on the job ladder. And you never know what you’ll learn from any given experience or where you could end up.

Map the environment

Looking at the economic and recruitment landscape, think about your skillset and experience. This could be based on volunteering and internships, summer jobs and the aspects of your studies you enjoyed the most and excelled at. Now try to map these to the current job market. How could your skillset help companies to prosper once the economy picks up, or support those that are actually benefitting during the crisis? 

Don’t worry too much about dreams and goals, be honest and practical – where could you get a job now, in the current situation? Remember, finance professionals are key to business survival, transformation and performance. And with every experience comes an opportunity to improve and, importantly, diversify your skillset, making you more employable when you’re ready to take the next steps.

Develop your skillset

Think about the role you want and the holes in your skillset, how can you fill them? Do you need to be better at Excel? Would you like to know more about business and commerce? How about familiarising yourself with the latest finance technology? There are online courses for everything these days, so while in lockdown, take to the internet to expand your knowledge.

Once the lockdowns start to lift, try to hone your skills by undertaking work experience at a local firm, volunteering with a charity (they need finance help too), or shadowing someone in their role. These are also good ways to boost your CV and grow your network.

Grow (and use) your network

Get your social media profiles, especially LinkedIn, buzzing! Take this time to grow your network – ACCA members often cite their network as vital to their careers. Keep your profiles up to date and use the platforms to engage with employers and peers. 

Make a list of the people in your network you feel most comfortable approaching, such as professors, employers, internship supervisors, mentors, family friends, and let them know you’re looking for a job. Ask them to make introductions with people who work in the fields you’re interested in.

Identify people at companies you’d like to work for and make connections. Again, use existing contacts, especially well placed ones such as university tutors to help you connect with university alumni in target organisations. Use the ACCA network of students and members in a similar way, you’ll find it a very welcoming and helpful experience.

Ultimately, try to start conversations, you don’t have to be blunt and ask for a job, ask questions about the profession, show an interest, see it as research and a chance to tell your story and learn.

Keep applying… but think quality over quantity

Don’t stop your job hunt, but also don’t scatter gun your approach. The market will be flooded with people looking for employment, so you need to stand out by proving yourself as a quality candidate. This means less time sending out dozens of CVs or one-click LinkedIn applications and more time researching companies, sectors and roles, then demonstrating this through your applications and conversations with your network and potential employers. 

Remember that companies will want to know what you can offer and how you can help, so throughout the job-hunt process clearly express your competency and prove it with your skillset, enthusiasm and knowledge.

Search hundreds of entry level roles from all over the world on ACCA Careers

Good luck!

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