Job hunters in the coronavirus crisis should think big (companies), focus on worker-thirsty industries, career development expert says

No surprise, this is not the economy of just a few months ago. This is not how new graduates expected to finish their last semester of college or launch their careers. It is, however, what we have to deal with now and for the next 12 to 18 months, according to a variety of economic experts.

COVID-19 hit hard, but it hit some industries much harder than others. According to a variety of sources, including MSNBC/Money, The Career Leadership Collective and the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), the hardest-hit industries include hospitality (hotels, restaurants and bars); travel/tourism (airlines and cruise lines); arts, entertainment, and associated event management (movies, casinos, and events ranging from auto shows to weddings); and retail (which was in trouble well before the pandemic). Unfortunately, the downturn within these sectors will also cause ripple effects for other associated industries.

The good news for students at Norwich University? Most of the majors offered align with industries that are still hiring.

The good news for students at Norwich University? Most of the majors offered align with industries that are still hiring. Even for graduates whose major does not directly align with a particular industry, people who have earned bachelor’s degrees are still in demand. Employers will continue to need early talent to manage and grow their businesses into the future.  

Kathryn Provost

So, in regard to finding employment during this difficult time, focus on industries that are still hiring. They include anything related to health care (nurse, veterinarian, pharmacist, occupational therapist, and so on); scientific research; federal government; education; social work; technology (data management, security, virtual meetings); essential services (police and fire fighters); public sector employers (utilities and transportation); professional and managerial services (lawyers, accountants/auditors, and financial planners); and acquisition/shipping/delivery/logistics and warehouse operations for essential needs like food and medical supplies. Because of the economic fallout caused by the pandemic, we will likely see smaller, less well capitalized companies succumbing to the downturn, so focus on larger companies. Lastly, all of this mandated staying at home has taught a lot of lessons about what is essential and what is discretionary. Focus on employers that supply essential needs.

For the Norwich University Class of 2019, survey results showed 95.9% of new graduates entering public/private (nonmilitary) sector employment were satisfied with their first-destination position. The Class of 2020 is unlikely to garner such great results right out of the gate. Although some employers are still hiring, competition for those jobs will be tough. New graduates will have to be flexible with job requirements and be open to a wide variety of opportunities. Career centers across the country work to help students find their “dream job.” Let’s call that “Job A.” Now, however, new graduates also need to consider “Job B.”

While you may have to accept “Job B” to pay the bills, you will also be developing new skills and experiences while working at the position. Keep track of these and update your résumé as needed. As always, continue to build your network!

Eyeing your A job

Also, keep your finger on the pulse of your desired industry and dream “Job A.” You can do this by following companies of interest on your LinkedIn page and joining professional associations to read their online journals and classified ads. You might also consider “microinternships” related to your preferred industry. As explained by Parker-Dewey, a leading company in the microinternship sector, “Microinternships are short-term, paid, professional assignments that are similar to those given to new hires or interns. These projects enable Career Launchers to demonstrate skills, explore career paths, and build their networks as they seek the right full-time role. Unlike traditional internships, microinternships can take place year-round, typically range from five to 40 hours of work, and are due between one week and one month after kickoff. Microinternships are used by companies ranging from those in the Fortune 100 to emerging startups, and go across departments including sales, marketing, technology, (human resources) and finance.” Continue looking for “Job A” while the economy recovers.

Bear in mind, too, that when you land “Job A,” it may look different than what you had anticipated. Interviews have gone virtual and work may be done remotely, at least initially. There are many ways to prepare for a video interview. Some of the most important tips come from the well-known job search website, They are:

  • Test your technology in advance.
  • Wear professional attire.
  • Prepare questions and responses just as you would for an in-person interview.
  • Limit any potential distractions. (Make sure your background is clean and well organized; a solid colored wall is great. Turn your phone to silent. Put a note on the door indicating you are not to be interrupted, and so on.)
  • Use professional body language; smile, pay attention and look interested to help build rapport with the interviewer.
  • Throughout the interview, be authentic. Use stories from your work, academic and extracurricular experiences that clearly demonstrate your various skills and how you used those skills and qualities to solve challenges.
  • Remember to send a thank you note to the interviewer.
  • Follow up, as needed, to land the job.

Self-isolation’s silver lining

Remind yourself that, thanks to online classes from the past semester, you are now more familiar with interviewing and working virtually.

If you need more help getting started, download The Washington Center’s guide “Graduating in the Age of COVID-19.” The guide is open to anyone and includes links to who is hiring now, virtual career fair resources; remote work opportunities; virtual networking and virtual interviews; best practices for rounding out your skills sets; and resources for long term success. It is a treasure trove of information in this time of uncertainty. Norwich students are also encouraged to continually check Handshake, our job and internship posting site. As of this writing, 72% of seniors are checking Handshake, as are 68% of juniors, 60% of sophomores and 54% of freshmen.

During this coronavirus crisis, some industries desperately need workers, but are too busy and time crunched to find and train new ones. Other employers are taking a week-by-week, wait-and-see approach.

Conducting a job search now will be a little different than three or four months ago. Be prepared to wait longer to hear back about your application. Although some industries desperately need workers, they are so busy they don’t have the time to find and train new employees at the moment. Other employers are taking a week-by-week, wait-and-see approach. For whatever reason, when things calm down a bit, companies will start hiring. Therefore, you still need to be proactive in following up with employers. It shows enthusiasm, interest, communication skills and tenacity; qualities any employer appreciates in their employees.

If you are an undergraduate student in one of Norwich University’s traditional programs, we want you to know the Career and Internship Center is open, virtually, to assist you. Please log into your Handshake account to make an appointment. We are happy to meet with you virtually or by phone to discuss résumé updates, networking, LinkedIn, job search, and so much more! 

In the end, it will take the economy a little more time to recover, but the essential rules of getting hired remain the same: Network, network, network! And in this pandemic time, cast a wider net(work)!

Kathryn Provost directs Norwich University’s Career and Internship Center.

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