Graduation amidst COVID? Here’s what to do (part 1 of 2)

July 11, 2020

AS I see graduation photos in the newspapers lately, I thought it’s time again to advise our fresh graduates on how to navigate their way, especially in this COVID situation.

After studying long and hard, earning that diploma tooth and nail, many find themselves still unemployed months or even years after. The heady euphoria gives way to a gnawing sense of being lost and adrift. And that was in the pre-COVID era. So what can you do to increase your chances of getting a job and prosper once you’re employed? Here are some suggestions. 

Run before the race begins. Most students have the mindset, “First I graduate. Then I start looking for work.” But this throws them amidst a horde of thousands of other graduates competing for the same limited openings. Students get a valuable head start if they craft effective resumes, polish their interview skills and generate job leads during the last one or two years of their course. 

So take advantage of the opportunities now. Look for webinars on career enhancement. Give your best during your OJT with the goal to be hired by that company. Use the Internet for serious job searches rather than flittering precious time on games and social media. 

Your first job is to get a job. The other mistake is to think of job-hunting as an on-and-off thing. If there is an opening, we apply. If we are summoned to an interview, we go. Then we wait for the employer to call us back. I was dismayed when I asked a fresh grad applicant, “When you are not being interviewed, what do you do?” and he said he stayed in the house, surfed the Net or hung around with friends. Equally sad was when I would ask, “Aside from this opening, where else are you applying?” and the candidate cited no alternatives. 

Job-hunting should be treated as a full-time activity where every possible waking hour is spent strategizing, networking, applying, practicing, pursuing and improving in order to shorten the gap between graduation and employment. It is not the time for taking it easy, dabbling, being fatalistic or passive. The same focus one would pour into his first job should be done in pursuing that job. 

Beef up your resume. I have scanned resumes of fresh grads and noticed how most of them look alike.

The typical resume lists down what schools they graduated from, their OJT without citing what they accomplished there, their personal information and a reference list consisting of professors and deans. There is nothing wrong with these per se, considering these are fresh grads without work experience. But imagine the HR manager swamped with such resumes and he only has a few seconds to skim through them. What are the chances your resume will stand out? 

To be continued next week. Meantime, more career tips can be found in my three books Your First Job: A Practical Guide for Success, Your Career Roadmap: How to Get the Job You Want and Love the One You Hate!, and Soaring High: Your Flight Plan to Your Best Career Ever! All available in major bookstores nationwide. Please visit my website or contact me via