Things haven’t quite hit full-blown recession levels yet, but layoffs have started coming, and cost of living is higher than ever. Recessions are tough to deal with for everyone, but the job market can be especially brutal for entry level job seekers who haven’t had the experience to build up a reputation in the industry, and who are competing against tens of thousands of other recent graduates. Here are some tips for navigating the job search during a recession for entry level candidates.
Updated Resume + Cover Letter
The most important thing to do as an entry level job seeker during a recession is to update your resume and cover letter for every role. With so many applicants applying for the same roles, you need to give yourself every edge possible. Thus, when looking over a job application, look at the qualifications sections and see what the company is looking for – communication skills, problem solving, attention to detail, etc. Then, go into your resume and add as many of the keywords as possible while doing so organically. Ideally, this would be in the summary or core competencies sections of the resume high up on the document. Including these targeted keywords and phrases will help your resume place highly in applicant tracking systems (ATS), hopefully resulting in interviews.
Send out Many Applications
The modern job market is a numbers game even when the economy is doing well and many companies in different industries are hiring. In a recession, when there are large amounts of people out of jobs and looking for work, it becomes even more so. Even if you’re fully and completely qualified for a role, and have updated your resume and cover letter for it, the likelihood is that you won’t get the job, or even receive an interview.
Therefore, you have to be vociferous in your job applications. You should be applying to at least five per day, and 10 is an even better number. Don’t be afraid to apply to roles that seem a bit beyond you, or even those that seem a tad below you. In recession times, you should be looking for any kind of role that fits the bill for what you’re looking for. And, honestly, even if it’s something you don’t have a ton of experience in, if the role sounds interesting, why not apply? Giving yourself at least a tiny bite at hundreds of apples will undoubtedly lead to something, even if the road is long and can seem dark at times.
Don’t be Discouraged
One of the results of sending out a lot of applications will be seeing lots of rejections. Maybe even worse, there’s the prospect of not hearing back at all and feeling ignored and lost in the shuffle. There’s no doubt that it’s difficult to get rejected in any facet of life – and it’s even more challenging when your livelihood and career depends on it. Just remind yourself that, in nearly instance, the rejection is not personal: there are many other people applying for the same job, and some of them might fit the role just a bit better than you. Take the rejection, brush it off, and then apply to another job, and keep going until you receive what you’re looking for.
Find Part-Time Jobs as Needed
It goes without saying, but bills need to be paid. All of the above advice is well and good, but if you’ve been out of school for a few months and you need a job, don’t be afraid to find part-time work outside your career to get by. This could be through a gig economy role like Uber or DoorDash which have virtually no barriers to entry, or picking up hours at a coffee shop, retail store, or local restaurant. You don’t even have to include any of these roles on the resume (though you can if you want), but there are plenty of jobs out there in the service industry if push comes to shove.
Network and Make Connections
The longer you go in your career, the bigger your network generally gets. However, you can start making connections while you’re in college, and can certainly do so early in your career. One way is to go through an alumni network at your college (or even high school maybe). Another, even more simple strategy is to reach out to people at companies you want to work for. Hiring managers are best, but people in the role you desire work to. Tell them that you’re interested in the role, and at the very least get some name recognition before the application. Having any kind of “in” at a company will raise your chances of getting hired significantly.