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Five key tips for graduates starting their careers amid COVID-19

Cropped Hands Of People Throwing Mortarboards Against Clear Sky
It’s still possible to find a job and get started on your career amid COVID-19. Photo: Getty

Everyone has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic in one way or another. But for students and those graduating amid the crisis, the outlook is particularly bleak.

According to a survey of more than 2,500 university students and over 100 graduates by the careers site Milkround and Dig-In, three quarters (75%) feel that the ongoing situation around COVID-19 will heavily impact their future career prospects.

Only 18% of students graduating this year have secured jobs and 60% of those are worried their position will be affected. Internships have also taken a hit too, with many being terminated because of the current circumstances.


It’s never easy to get on the career ladder, but it’s particularly challenging now. Current forecasts suggest the global recession triggered by COVID-19 will be the deepest since World War II.

READ MORE: What is permalancing — and what are the pros and cons?

Although things are certainly difficult at the moment, it’s still possible to find a job and get started on your career. So what should you bear in mind if you are graduating soon or have finished your degree?

Don’t panic

Of course, this is easier said than done. The job market might look very different at the moment, but some companies are still hiring.

“Firstly, don’t panic. Employers are still working out their plans and they will be wanting to work with the students to help them through the assessment process,” says Michele Trusolino, CEO and co-founder of Debut Careers. “Employers will also be making sure that they over-communicate changes to the application process.”

Although many businesses have been forced to put recruitment drives on hold, the ISE has revealed only a quarter (27%) of companies will be recruiting fewer graduates this year — which shows there is still demand.

READ MORE: How to ace a pre-recorded interview

“Students should be reassured there are still various well-renowned companies looking for ambitious entry-level talent, to join their business and help deliver change. Most notably, the education, medical, accounting, IT and engineering, as well as the public sector are amongst the industries still continuing to hire,” says Georgina Brazier, jobs expert at Milkround.

Some sectors will be much harder hit than others. We know the travel industry is struggling, so there will be fewer graduate schemes and job openings.

Use spare time to your advantage

“You may well have a little more time on your hands now, so using this productively can give you a real edge,” Trusolino says.

“Use this time to think outside the box when it comes to working out what companies you want to work for. For example if you did finance, every industry requires people in finance, or if you did computer science, don’t just limit yourself to tech. Research other sectors as there are some really exciting jobs out there.”

Keep applying for jobs

It can feel futile when you know lots of other graduates are applying for positions too, but it’s important to keep sending out applications and working on your CV.

“Normality will resume and when it does, if you have made applications you will be ahead of the curve,” Trusolino says. “For summer placements, it would be worth investing a little more time to apply to a few extra and give yourself the best chance. Remember to stay optimistic.”

Prepare for online interviews

Online and video interviews via Zoom and Skype are going to form a big part of companies hiring processes for the foreseeable future, so it’s worth bearing this in mind.

READ MORE: Why sleeping on the job might not be a bad idea

“Online interviews require a slightly different approach than a face to face,” says Trusolino. “As with anything practice makes perfect. If you can take the time to have a run through with friends it will take away some of the nerves.”

Keep building your networks

According to the UK tech job board CWJobs, business networking has thrived during the pandemic, with two-fifths (40%) of UK office workers having attended a virtual networking event during isolation. The most popular platforms Brits are using to grow and expand their network of contacts include Zoom (38%), Skype (35%) and even WhatsApp (32%).

Networking can be overwhelming, but it can be really helpful. Speak to friends and family, friends of friends and more to find out who can help you. You never know when an opportunity will come up.