New Graduates: Job Search in Times of Deep Uncertainty Calls for this Mindset

To all you seniors graduating from college over the next couple of weeks. First of all – Congratulations! 

It is my guess is you are full of emotions about leaving college in general, let alone leaving in the midst of a pandemic. We know that this transition from college to career will be harder for most of you then for prior graduates, and it will require a different mindset and energy. I want to talk with you about what the different mindset and energy is all about. 

First of all, we are having to make decisions and deal with a chang(ing) landscape that we cannot fully understand from this vantage point.  On some level this is always true, but it is even more true now. We are operating in a deeply uncertain time and we do not have a crystal ball to guide us. This is true for all of us, those just getting started, those of us in the middle of careers and those who are in the final third of our careers. 

Questions You May Be Asking

Each step along the way offers us serious challenges and perhaps some undiscovered opportunities. Some questions we may be asking ourselves is How long will this go on?   Which industries will recover quickly?  These are two questions we do not have answers to. 

However, some questions you can ask yourself now and act on are: How willing am I to be dealing with the public etc. in the midst of a pandemic?   Should I be looking for a career type job or just a job? Should I take a short term “gig” if it comes up? 

Moving Forward Is Critical

And still, we are going to have to do our best to understand the landscape and move towards what we see as our best future.  This ability to acknowledge and work with uncertainty, but to keep moving, keep trying out ideas, keep looking for opportunities to contribute our skills, and to keep talking with people is important at this time. This has always been useful – it is now pretty much a requirement, laid on top of everything else that you have done and will keep on doing.

These times call for reconceptualizing what moving forward means.  It calls for trying things out and adjusting as you go.  My most recent example of this comes not from someone in her early career – more like  mid-career. My friend’s whole career (so far) has been in early childhood education, she had a job she loved running a daycare center at a very progressive and forward-thinking business.  Enter the pandemic and they could no longer keep the daycare center open – and most daycare/early childhood programs closed shortly thereafter.  

When A Door Closes A Window Opens

But the same day that this business closed the daycare program they offered her a job in their manufacturing organization.  She had never thought about working in manufacturing, and had no experience in the field, but she thought about it for about five minutes and said yes. A door closed and a window opened and in she went.  Not sure that this will represent a total career shift, but she is having fun, learning new skills and adjusting as she goes.  

Here Are Some Examples

So, what might this look like for new grads?  Here is what it is looking like for the young people we are working with. They are of course all working on becoming a strong, well prepared candidate.  But here are other things they are doing to try and find those open windows:

  • A young woman who is a marketing major and had a very clear idea of the market she wanted to work in with two strong internships to bolster her candidacy, is now flexing to consider sales jobs.  Sales jobs are one of the few areas that are still hiring in any volume.  She is still pursuing the field she was aiming for – but she now has a parallel track going.
    We are working on how to present her as a strong candidate for sales, she is practicing interviewing with sales in mind, and she is reaching out to her network to look for connections into the sales world. Again, I do not think sales is going to be her field long-term, but it could be a practical move right now, and even if it wasn’t what she was looking for, she has the skill set to succeed. 
  • A young man I am working with who had planned to stay in his small college town when graduating is now preparing to move to a larger metropolitan area where there is a stronger job market.  The larger market is not his first choice, but he does have a network there that he can leverage. And as he said – “I am going to Austin – at least the music will be great!”
  • Another young woman, who did not want to go home to her small town is doing just that right now.  She has contacts there, and she can get a job and save some money.  The job will probably not be anything like the work she was looking for, but she is planning on staying here for six months until she has enough money to allow herself to move to the city she very much wants to be in. 
  • Another client saw a job that he knew he would be a strong candidate for, but before he could apply for it, it got taken down from the job board.  The business was just not able to add to payroll right now.  But he is offering to work as an intern for the summer and the offer is being considered by the company. 

This Is An Important Mindset To Have

These are the actions our clients are taking, but it is the mindset that they are bringing to it that is making a difference.  They are all sorting through what matters to them. They are asking themselves questions about how much risk they feel comfortable with in this era of Covid19, they are talking to everyone they know looking for direction and guidance and they are charting courses forward. We are preparing them to present themselves as irresistible candidates for whatever jobs they are applying for, and I have a lot of confidence that if these plans do not pan out, they will adjust their plans. 

In a dramatically smaller job market, all the skills that LaunchingU traditionally work with clients on still matter a great deal. 

In these times  the capability I am calling “Finding the Open Window”, is now an overlay on top of those skills, and mastering this is going to differentiate those of you who make this transition before others.  

As always we are happy to talk to students and parents at any time to help. Please contact us at sue@launchingu.com for a free consultation.