The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped the working world as we know it. People who have never worked from home are suddenly thrust into a remote role. And while some companies have adapted successfully, many others struggle to adopt new policies in a dynamic virtual workplace. But working remotely as a new graduate is an entirely different ordeal.
If you’re a new graduate, chances are you’re apprehensive, shell-shocked, or have a justified fear of finding employment in the near future. Some organizations have frozen hiring; others are pulling from a larger pool of applicants thanks to globalization and talented, unemployed, or underemployed workers.
So how do you show your ability for working remotely as a new graduate? Follow these tips to get your foot in the door, reduce uncertainty and fear, and find remote employment sooner than you may think.
Show Your Success as an Online Student
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many universities conducted classes online. According to one study by Babson Survey Research Group, 2015 marked the 13th consecutive year of growth in online classes taken by university students—some of the latest such research on the topic. Unfortunately, only 29% of faculty show support for the growth, while students remain somewhat indifferent.
The situation has only grown exponentially since then.
And although the opportunity for student interaction and professor Q&A has been somewhat limited, new graduates have developed an underlying skill. By taking online classes, working remotely as a new graduate has become an afterthought, albeit the skill that many grads don’t recognize.
As a result, students have the ability to work from deadlines, interact with others, and ask the right questions in an online forum. Despite the disconnect from traditional classrooms, this facet increases the hireablility of new graduates to potential employers.
Actionable Step: If your resume is lacking, use your experience as an online student to shore it up. Can’t come up with any ideas? Use Virtual Vocations’s resume experts to tweak your resume to professional levels using your college experience.
Demonstrate Your Tech-Savviness
Generation Z is a tech-savvy powerhouse. Unlike millennials or any generation prior, Gen Z integrates technology into every aspect of their daily lives. From checking social media to telling Alexa to turn the lights on, they know technology through and through.
The problem is that fresh graduates don’t always use technology to improve their professionalism. Nor do they use their knowledge to wow employers. Instead, they hit a period of stagnation that’s simply using technology; not knowing how to use technology to their advantage as a job candidate.
Actionable Step: As a recent college graduate and the only generation born with the internet always around, you have a distinct advantage. If you haven’t done so already, harness the power of the web to master the latest programs to learn how to do basic, job-ready tasks such as:
- Collaborative software
- Microsoft Office or Google Docs
- Basic graphic design, photo-editing, or video-editing
- Social media as a basic marketing tool
By realizing that you inherently have the skills that employers covet, you can make working remotely as a new graduate an actual skill rather than an arbitrary set of abilities stereotyped to your generation.
Showcase Your Collaborative Skills
No one has ever said they love a group project. But fear not, young graduate. You’ve probably done a majority of your group projects online. That makes you a top candidate for remote positions in the COVID-19 job market. Even if you were saddled with a group that made you complete a bulk of the work, you still had to collaborate to some degree and present a final project for review.
Actionable Step: Do you have a project that you’re particularly proud of? Or did you make top grades in a course that was predominantly online group projects? If so, put those projects on a free website through companies such as GoDaddy, Squarespace, or Wix. Although you won’t get much organic traffic, these sites will act as a portfolio of how you collaborate with others—and the end result that makes you the ideal team player in the online world.
Attempt to Find a Remote Internship
Although in-person internships have all but dried up during COVID-19, remote internships are alive and well. But perhaps even more still, the opportunity to start freelance or part-time remote work is more within the realm of possibility.
Remote internships are readily available on many websites, including Virtual Vocations’s job board. But the job board also has many options for entry-level remote work in your field. Even if it’s not what you envisioned upon your graduation, these jobs will give you valuable work experience for your resume and cover letter. Plus, you’ll get bonus points if you’ve freelanced through your own cold-calling and networking. The perseverance and assertiveness this shows are two highly coveted soft skills that not even some mid-level applicants possess.
Actionable Step: If you’re unsure of how to go about a freelance gig or an internship, you have multiple options. From a freelance perspective, you can put together a portfolio of the topics you do best. If you’re a writer, pen some op-ed or research pieces—basically anything you feel passionate about. Or if you’re a graphic designer, showcase your skills for advertisements, logos, or even basic web design. For those interested in an internship, you might have to vie against hundreds of applicants. If you don’t get results, pitch an internship idea to a company you love or a small business in your area. You might be surprised how open they are to extra help, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Work While You Wait
If you can’t find a remote job to your liking, maybe you aren’t looking in the right place. Regardless of whether you want a remote or onsite job, numerous companies are hiring for temporary, part-time, and full-time positions. Again, the idea is that you can put an extra line of experience on your resume, which can put you on an employer’s radar.
Actionable Step: If you’re living with your parents, you’re in a unique position to take pay that’s below the typical entry-level college graduate position. You may have to work in a warehouse or as a cashier. But this grind will demonstrate your ability as someone with perseverance and the ability to overcome COVID-19-era obstacles. When others feel defeated, you take a much more difficult, yet much more noble path to success.
Build Your Online Presence
The mass exodus from office jobs to remote work isn’t a new trend. As far back as 2005, people began to pursue online work as a path toward work-life and family balances. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 3.6% of Americans in March 2020 were working online full-time—the highest number ever recorded. Since then, that number has undoubtedly grown.
But with such interest in remote work, the competition is also at a seemingly insurmountable level—until you make a vested decision to build your online presence. Veteran full-time remote workers didn’t stumble into the job. Rather, they put themselves in a position that made them irresistible to employers, i.e. they tailored their experience and work history to meet the needs of employers.
Actionable Steps: To build an online presence, you need to think like an employer. Even as a fresh college grad, you can still think about what you would want out of a new employee that would make them a nice addition to the team.
So comb over your social media to make it more professional, network with people in the industry you want to work in, and again, build that portfolio. Make certain to take advantage of LinkedIn, as many employers hire solely off the platform. With a bit of intuition and a will to succeed, you should start seeing some results.
Don’t Overthink or Stress
Overthinking or stressing about finding—or not finding—a job will make the task even more arduous. Therefore, thinking about the COVID-19-era remote job search as an opportunity to work remotely as a new college graduate becomes self-evident. And stressing out is your biggest enemy. The job search at any age isn’t always easy, yet the more you maintain an optimistic outlook, the better your chances for success.
Actionable Steps: If you find that you’re unhappy or stressed as a result of your remote job search, take a deep breath. You’re not alone. In fact, you might try your hand at meditation. A meditative approach to life can calm your nerves and give you insight not only to your current job search—but to life in general. The phrase “don’t sweat the small stuff” is often used. Yet in this sense, it’s something that will give you a bit of solace in an uncertain world. You’ll make it. It’s just a matter of when.
Take a Proactive Approach
A proactive approach is the best mindset when it comes to working remotely as a new graduate. In years or decades past—at least in booming economies—employers were always looking for talent or fresh graduates to lead a new generation of workers. Yet despite the drop in unemployment since 40 million were out of work in May 2020, the demand isn’t quite in tune with years past.
Still, a proactive approach is an amazing way to land a remote job. You might receive 100 rejections, but just that one “yes” will put your foot in the door. Don’t get discouraged. Your vigor and youth are two of your greatest attributes.
Regardless of your major or intended profession, the remote world is looking for young go-getters just like you. With a bit of drive and an understanding that a job isn’t going to happen overnight, you’ll rest easy knowing you’re just one application away from a remote job. That’s sure to ease your mind during the uncertainty and future of a post-COVID-19 world.
Do you have any tips for working remotely as a new graduate? Is there something that your new employer liked in particular? Connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube to share your advice. We’d love to hear from you!
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