Job hunting?
Job hunting? Image Credit: Stock image

Life after graduation is always an unknown. But the coronavirus pandemic has added even more uncertainty for millions of students expected to receive college degrees in 2020-2021.

“I feel like when you graduate, you go out into the real world,” says Stephanie Fallon, 23, who graduated in May from Temple University in Philadelphia. But this world “almost doesn't feel real,” she says.

Even though the real world has changed, the challenges most new graduates face haven't. Here's what the class of 2020 can do to answer three essential post-graduation questions during the ongoing pandemic.

Can you get a job?

The job markets looked strong for 2020 graduates before the economies took a hit from the coronavirus. Of course, much has changed.

What (graduates) are facing now is just horrendous. There really isn't any other way to put it.

- Edwin Koc, director of research for US-based National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE)

“What (graduates) are facing now is just horrendous,” says Edwin Koc, director of research for US-based National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). “There really isn't any other way to put it.”

A survey in 2018 from the recruitment agency Randstad found that the average job search lasts five months. Koc says it now may take more time - and effort - to land a job in the current market.

Here are some ways to improve your situation:

- Be persistent with potential employers but understand if they can't give you a quick answer.

- Look to your college career center for help, like connecting you with alumni at companies that are hiring.

- Consider transitional work or opportunities outside your desired field.

Fallon, for example, plans to pursue a career in nonprofit work. While she currently has a part-time job with a nonprofit foundation, she's also working two part-time jobs.

Do you have the right skill set?

There are some skills in demand across all industries that can help grads get an edge over others, start their careers and set themselves up for growth as economies recover. Having the right skills can make all the difference, even in difficult times, experts say.

During the global economic slump of 2008-09, a major chunk of graduates chose to forgo an immediate job search to pursue additional education and upskilling.

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During the global economic slump of 2008-09, a major chunk of graduates chose to forgo an immediate job search to pursue additional education and upskilling, setting themselves up to be better positioned for opportunities as economies began to recover the year following. Importantly, the data from Linkedin suggest that did not delay those grads’ career progression.

This can apply even more for today’s graduates. With far greater access to more upskilling programs than their predecessors, learning relevant skills is no longer limited to a degree. From short-term programs to skill-tailored online courses, grads can opt from several means to pick up the skills needed for success in a fast-changing job market.

Can you get an apartment?

Many students live at home after graduation: Investment broker TD Ameritrade found in a 2019 survey that roughly half of college graduates plan to move back in with their parents worldwide.

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You may have already taken this step when your college closed its campus in the pandemic. But that doesn't mean you'll want to live at home indefinitely - or be able to.

For example, you may need to relocate for a job. Although some polls indicate that employers plan to start new graduate hires remotely, you may need to find a place while still social distancing.