To All The Unemployed New Grads
We tried to write a happy, silver-lining type introduction here, but nothing seemed to adequately capture the current mood. As recent graduates ourselves, we understand the fear and anxiety that comes with finding your first corporate role – a fear that has been exponentially amplified by the current situation.
Expectations need to be modified, timelines shifted, and goals adjusted. That’s just the world we’re in today, but it’s not a justifiable reason to “give up.” The key is in leveraging your network and doing the legwork to strategically position yourself in the eyes of hiring managers.
We’ve decided to come at this topic from two angles. Erika Raskind, Technical Recruiter, will be tackling your most-asked questions from the Technology perspective – i.e. how do you market your coding skills? What should be included in your portfolio? Then Marissa Davis, Finance & Accounting Recruiter, will fill you in on the Finance & Accounting side of the market – what happens if you can’t get into Big 4 or Top 10? What are your options?
No matter your area of expertise, we want to give you a clear window into the hiring prospects for new graduates. These are the most-asked questions:
1. What’s the market like out there? Is there hope?
Tech: I know it seems daunting at the moment – and we can’t ignore the fact that there are so many layoffs happening – but we’ve definitely seen traction from our end. In e-commerce, mobile banking, and SAAS, there has been definite movement and a surprising level of hiring going on from our end. My recommendation is to be conscious and picky about which industry you’re targeting, and do your due diligence researching/asking about how they plan to handle on boarding, if they’ve made hires during this time, etc.
F&A: You may have noticed a drop in the volume of F&A positions posted online since COVID-19 unfolded. However, keep in mind that finance/accounting/tax professionals are essential to business operations. Books need to be closed, tax returns need to be filed, and budgets need to be maintained. It may take more time for certain industries than others, but as companies recover from the initial shock to their business and adapt to future ripple effects, I think we’ll start seeing a “bounce back” of open F&A roles (we actually already have).
2. What might my career path look like if I do A, B, C?
Tech: It’s definitely normal to stress about how this first job will impact your career long term, but just know that this first job – which you’re unlikely to stay in for more than a few years – will not determine everything. I’ve seen many successful software engineers with various types of degrees – people who started off in Product Management and moved into Mobile Development, etc. There’s no “perfect” trajectory. I will say that, if you have the time and financial stability, consider getting a Masters at some point as it is highly desired and always a huge plus.
F&A: Regardless of your individual career path, keep in mind that competition will inevitably be tougher. Especially, for example, if you’ve had your mind set on starting at a large Public Accounting firm or top Investment Bank. If you don’t land a spot at one of the companies you’ve been dreaming of, it will be okay. Hiring managers are not going to look back at your first position out of college and say “wow, you couldn’t get into a Big 4 when the whole world was upside down? Pass.” And if they do, maybe that’s not a company you want to work for anyway. Give yourself the grace to not have the “perfect” resume and instead focus on aligning yourself with a team who will help you grow as much as possible in these next few years.
3. How should I market myself? LinkedIn, resume, networking…
Tech: Use your LinkedIn network! Don’t be afraid to post on your LinkedIn and let people know you’ve graduated and are looking for work. If that feels a little awkward, you can always structure the post as a request for insights on market intel, or else general advice on how to successfully job search. I would also recommend searching for companies you’re interested in and checking out the “people” tab. Go through and see if there are people that graduated from the same school and same major as you, because that’s such an easy warm intro. One unconventional way could be Facebook, too! That’s more of a “warm” intro, so join alumni pages, talk to extended family, etc. Most people find work through their network, not through job posts.
F&A: Take advantage of the plentiful free online resources on resume writing, crafting a cover letter, overcoming an application slump, etc. Make sure anyone who comes across your profile or your resume can tell you took the time and effort to polish it. Beyond that, just be thoughtful about your networking efforts. Sometimes mass messaging everyone on LinkedIn for information or interviews isn’t the best way to go. Instead, what resources or connections do you already have that you can leverage? One easy one: Alumni Network! If your university has an alumni group on LinkedIn or even Facebook, join it! You never know who you may end up connecting with.
4. What should I target as compensation?
Tech: Aim to be competitive with the market without losing sight of what’s realistic in this uncertain time. For entry-level it really varies by company, and you have to take into account whether it’s a startup, a public company, a remote opportunity, where the job is located, etc. All those factors really do matter, so that’s important when deciding what compensation you’re looking for. It’s a great idea to use additional information sources such as friends, family, and websites, but always approach that info with skepticism as it’s contingent on so many external factors. Also, many companies can increase your salary within the next couple of years as you get promoted, so just remind yourself of that too!
F&A: When I was looking for my first job post-graduation, I spoke to friends who graduated 1-2 years before me and had recently started in positions similar to what I was interested in. Sometimes compensation can seem a bit taboo to discuss, but if you feel comfortable, it may help you get an idea of what the market is like in the cities you’re applying to as well as the type of positions you’re interested in. More importantly though, remember that now is the time to grow and gain experience. Especially with the economic difficulties to come, try not to get married to a certain dollar amount and weigh the overall opportunity instead.
5. Should I go with the first offer I get?
Tech: That’s really subjective. If you’re in a tough spot financially, you’re going to have a completely different answer than someone who isn’t. Ranking your priorities, (Location, Compensation, Role, Start Date, Room for Growth, etc.) is going to help you determine whether or not you should accept the job being offered. Also remember priorities are different for everyone, so you may have something on your list that your best friend is not even thinking about, which is okay! It’s not worth it to compare your search to someone else’s, because everyone is so different. It’s valid and healthy to take into account the advice others have to give, but you don’t necessarily have to follow it religiously. Everyone has a different background, education, financial situation, set of goals, etc., so just be mindful of that.
F&A: This depends on how your job search has been going generally. If you’ve had decent traction with other interviews and you feel that your current offer doesn’t check a few of the most important boxes on your list, maybe it’s best to continue exploring your other interviews. On the other hand, if you love the people/company/role and you’re just hung up on factors such as a slightly longer commute or a lower compensation than you had targeted, by all means take it.
6. What’s my path forward?
Tech: Again, this is really subjective, but I would recommend thinking about what you can do within the next couple months and reflect on how your search has been going so far. If you feel incredibly defeated and stressed, it may be best to take a break and think about taking a temporary role to help pay the bills. If you have the luxury of having some time to brainstorm, I would definitely think about grad school, interning, reaching out to old friends, etc. Either way – post on your LinkedIn, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and remember that no one knows how to navigate this global pandemic. If you’re actively searching and trying, that’s the most you can control at this moment. Even if you couldn’t have a traditional ceremony, you still graduated, and should be very proud of yourself 😊
F&A: One of the best things you can do for yourself right now is to keep an open mind throughout the process. If you were planning on going to grad school later, can you shift that timeline up and take on a part or full-time job to make ends meet in the meantime? Depending on your field, a graduate degree may significantly influence pay or title. Also, keep an open mind to opportunities with companies that may not have that global name brand recognition, but have a solid reputation within your market for hiring sharp people and fostering a positive working environment. Every market has hidden gem companies that just take a little investigating and due diligence to uncover! Recruiters can come in pretty handy identifying those types of companies, too.
We tried to address the most common concerns, but if you have any specific questions relating to your situation we’d be happy to offer whatever advice we can! You can shoot us an email at:
Erika Raskind: firstname.lastname@example.org
Marissa Davis: email@example.com