The latest wave of fresh-faced and eager graduates will soon embark on their journey of entering the workforce, but with an unstable global economy, and many looking for employment at the same time, how can graduates prepare to enter the workforce after the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic? Given my role as the Career Services and Internship Coordinator at Canadian University Dubai, here are some of my top tips on how graduates can use the time they are spending at home to refine their skills in preparation for securing that all-important first job:
1. Use this time to get to know yourself better Many students often seek advice on what career they should pursue from their families, who usually offer emotional and traditionally-driven advice due to social conforms and expectations. Middle Eastern families are known for encouraging their children to seek a profession in medicine, engineering, and law, but there is a plethora of other professions out there to explore that are more in demand.
If you work in something that you like, you’ll naturally be successful, but when you’re doing something you don’t like, it can have a negative impact, and you could end up being unproductive. Now is a great time to get to know yourself better, work out what you enjoy, and think about what career you can see yourself taking forward after graduating.
Investing in a behavioral assessment is an excellent idea as it analyzes your characteristics and personality, and it can guide you to the field to which you’re most suited. The assessments are a great way of understanding what your values are, what you like, and what you don’t like. When looking for a job, a behavioral assessment should match at least 70% of these values.
Using the help of mentors and career coaches is another great way to explore career options, and it can also help break bad habits. They will be able to guide you towards an ideal career matched to your personality type, as they will help you learn to identify your strengths and weaknesses.
2. Understand the market Once you’re clear on the career direction that you want to pursue, research what jobs are available, and what the demands are. Read the job descriptions carefully to find out what skillsets are required for that specific job. Then look into ways that you can develop and hone these skills, so you can speak about them confidently in interviews.
Gather as much experience as possible. Accept internships and volunteer. Getting a feel of the industry that you want to work in will help with confidence and knowledge, and give you better insight into the professional market.
Prepare a CV, and tailor it based on the job description for which you are applying. Be sure to connect with recruiters in the field you are looking to enter, as they can help you understand what skills you need for certain roles, discover companies that are hiring, and get you in front of hiring employers.
Even though we are currently housebound, it is still important to network. LinkedIn allows you to remotely connect with employers and leaders in the market, as does Ojo. Ojo has been created for fresh graduates, linking you to employers, life coaches, career coaches, and job opportunities.
3. Hone your workplace skills The top three skills that recruiters are looking for at the moment are adaptability, communication skills, and demonstrated team players.
With most workplaces experiencing an uncertain future and not knowing when normal office operations will resume, communication skills have never been more critical. Communication skills cover verbal and writing skills, but they also include behavior. How a person addresses members of their team, and how they set tasks is incredibly important to employers, especially as teams are getting to grips with working remotely.
Positivity, empathy, patience, and understanding will go a long way. If you need to be critical, think about how you can offer constructive criticism, so that people can build on their skills. Look to be supportive, collaborative, and helpful.
With the majority of workforces working remotely, we need to carefully consider the words and the channels we use when talking to colleagues. Having regular video meetings is a great way for the team to connect, as well as through apps like WhatsApp. It is essential to think carefully about the tone of voice of the messages that you are sending, and to consider the time you’re sending messages and emails. Although everyone is working to their schedules, sending non-urgent messages to colleagues out of work hours isn’t advised.
The key for anyone looking for employment opportunities during these challenging times is to be positive, eager to learn, and to be adaptable to different environments and situations. With situations changing daily and companies having to navigate business through unprecedented times, aware and supportive colleagues are celebrated.
Source: Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.