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A survival guide to finding work in a pandemic

Tips from a graduating student on how to land a job
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REBECA MOYA/THE VARSITY
REBECA MOYA/THE VARSITY

Well, it happened — I’m graduating into a pandemic. April 2020 was a tough time for me: my summer internship was cancelled, and there was little hope of finding a new internship in time. My summer and fall were spent constantly applying to jobs and getting daily rejections. Recently, I found a job, and all of my stress has been relieved.

The point I want to share in this article is that there is hope! The pandemic has affected the job-finding process, and it is important for you to adapt. Based on my experience, I came up with a few tips that can help you in your job search.

Be creative in where you look

Don’t be one dimensional in your approach. Many students limit their opportunities by only applying for job postings on sites like Indeed and Monster. Your probability of finding work this way is low. There’s nothing wrong with this method of job searching, but problems occur when you don’t supplement it with something else. 

You need to be creative in your method. Do your research, find the companies that interest you, and reach out to recruiters. Use hunter.io and LinkedIn to find the contact information of recruiters.

Don’t be afraid to cold message the people responsible for hiring. It will allow you to stand out and create an impression of confidence. It also shows that you have done your research and are not blindly applying to positions.

Be direct and to the point

Don’t make recruiters read an essay as your introduction. Keep your emails brief and to the point, especially if you’re reaching out cold. The key information to provide are your full name and the position in their organization for which you’d be a potential candidate.

To demonstrate your qualifications, attach your résumé or refer to your LinkedIn account. For certain positions looking for specific skill sets, stand out by directing them to evidence of your experience, such as a GitHub account. Don’t forget to provide your email address and phone number for them to respond to you with!

Be open minded

Be open minded about companies and locations. How many business students are applying to JP Morgan Chase or Goldman Sachs? A lot. Consider non-target sectors and locations for your academic background. See if you can apply your skills to companies and positions that aren’t as heavily competitive.

COVID-19 has taken away many opportunities, but it has given us new ones as well. It’s no longer important to be in a specific location or to relocate for a position. This means your job search doesn’t need to be limited to your home country or city. Look into international companies hiring remote workers. This is a great opportunity to work with an international team and build an international network. 

Be true blue

You have learned and developed valuable skills at the University of Toronto — now you have to market yourself. This is an evolving process and will require a lot of work on your end. There are companies actively searching for your skills and all you have to do is find them and effectively demonstrate these skills. 

Marketing yourself is key. Develop a professional online presence and not just on LinkedIn — try Angellist, Twitter, and, perhaps even your own website. 

Use the resources U of T provides. All U of T students have access to the Career Learning Network and Student Life career advising. For Rotman Commerce students, there is an online portal with selected job postings. Also, follow U of T news and see what opportunities there are for online networking events. It may feel strange, but it is becoming the new norm. 

Be tenacious!

Finally — don’t give up! Rejection is everywhere and you shouldn’t be discouraged by it. In the words of the great Kanye West: “to whom much is given, much is tested.” It took me eight months of constant searching to land my job, and you should be prepared to persevere. 

I wish you good luck in your search!