Those graduating from college this year are celebrating a major accomplishment while preparing to face a new challenge: entering what has become an incredibly complicated job market.
The keys for success for those students are flexibility and resourcefulness, says Abra McAndrew, assistant vice president of access, engagement and opportunity at the University of Arizona. McAndrew and the Student Engagement and Career Development office are offering guidance and resources for students navigating uncertain economic times.
The first thing job seekers should keep in mind, McAndrew says, is that any delay in finding a job right now is not necessarily a reflection on their qualifications.
"If you are struggling to find the kind of opportunities that you are looking for, just know that it's not about you or the major you have selected," McAndrew said. "You have done everything you were supposed to do, and you can draw upon the resiliency, knowledge and skills you gained in college to overcome this situation."
She suggests continuing to build and maintain connections with recruiters and hiring managers – even those who have put a pause on hiring – because they will return to the relationships they invested in when circumstances improve.
McAndrew adds that job seekers may want to think more broadly about where they are willing to live and work because geography can be a key element of the job market, especially in times of economic challenge.
She says the current market may also lead some to accept jobs for which they may believe they are overqualified.
"There are a lot of core skills to be learned in any job that will transfer to a career path job in ways you might not even be able to imagine right now," McAndrew says. "If you must say yes to something that is just for now, keep your eyes on opportunities that align with what you love."
McAndrew says students can give themselves an advantage in a competitive job market just by being prepared for changes in the recruiting process. Some of her suggestions include:
- Brush up phone and video interviewing skills, as recruitment is shifting to digital environments.
- Build your network. Reach out to people you met on campus and people you have worked with in previous jobs to see if they are hiring or can introduce you to anyone in their network.
- Tap into university alumni networks to learn about different roles or industries.
- Pursue online training programs or freelance opportunities to build skills while looking for a job.
The University of Arizona offers several online resources for students:
- Opportunities for informational interviews, which are replacing the university's on-site job shadow program.
- Design Your Search provides resources for developing internship and job search skills with support from career educators.
- The Handshake platform houses job postings and allows users to schedule virtual appointments with UArizona career educators.
- Virtual "walk in" appointments are available with career development experts via Zoom or phone.
- Virtual peer mentoring sessions are available in collaboration with the Hispanic-Serving Institution initiatives office and the Adalberto and Ana Guerrero Student Center.
- Online professional skill-building programs.
Ultimately, McAndrew says, this is not a time for students to lose hope; it is a time for them to be practical and take advantage of opportunities that present themselves.
"We have to be thinking about doing the next right thing. We have to respond to the options that are in front of us to build our careers," McAndrew says. "Critical thinking and communication skills are timeless. Be ready to look for what people are willing to pay for and make that match. You might find it in an area that you didn't expect."
McAndrew will be taking part in a virtual panel called "What Now? Strategies for Agility in Job and Internship Search" on Thursday, May 7, at 12 p.m.