Job searching during a global pandemic
In early March, student Sharon Coady thought she had full-time employment lined up.
Then the pandemic happened.
“The priorities of employers, especially in the health-care industry, began to understandably shift,” said Sharon, a student in the master of health administration (community care) program. “So I looked to TRSM Graduate Careers services for job-search support.”
Sharon’s story is a common one, as students across all disciplines struggle to find summer employment, internships, co-op placements, or start their careers post graduation.
“Usually, at this time of year, we’re overrun with resumé and job application reviews and graduates’ job searches,” said Emma Hartley, career education specialist at the Ryerson Career & Co-op Centre (RCCC), “but what we’re now seeing is more one-on-one appointments around career advice, and job search strategies against the backdrop of COVID-19.”
Rebecca Dirnfeld, manager, Graduate Careers at Ted Rogers School of Management (TRSM) agrees: “Our students are understandably very anxious about the job market and finding employment during this time.”
Job search strategies
Career advisors at RCCC and TRSM have some tips for job searchers.
Self-care. During this stressful time, it’s important to look after your overall health. RCCC and TRSM career advisors can direct you to online sessions on nutrition, fitness, meditation and mindfulness.
Be flexible. Consider widening or pivoting your search to include industries that are hiring right now. These include e-commerce, digital education, the supermarket sector, health care and technology companies that intersect with these industries.
Assess skills. Ryerson and TRSM career advisors can help you evaluate which of your skills can be used in a range of jobs and career paths.
“We work with students on developing transferable skills inventories so they feel confident applying for jobs they normally wouldn’t have previously,” said Dena Marcos, RCCC career education specialist. “This inventory can be used to pivot to different industries and sectors both now and in the next few months.”
Develop an action plan. To help you focus on your job search, the RCCC team can work with you to develop an action plan with specific action items and target dates. Their template includes a list of resources for fulfilling each action item.
Think long-term. Contingency planning is a skill that job seekers typically need mid- or late-career, but this pandemic is forcing students to practice it now.
“Our students are getting a crash course on navigating their career through a time of upheaval and change – skill sets they will need for decades to come,” said Caroline Konrad, director, RCCC. “Their experiences navigating the market today, will set them up for success long-term.”
The RCCC and TRSM career services have shifted their existing programs online and added additional services tailored to job-seeking during the pandemic.
Here are some of their key resources:
- RCCC webinars and workshops, external link offer tips on resume writing, interviewing, and more, with earlier webinars archived, external link.
- TRSM Graduate Careers webinars (available to MBA, MScM, and MHA(CC) candidates) fall under two categories, internal Ryerson events run by the careers team and across campus (career planning and health and well-being during COVID-19) and external professional development events run by industry and professional associations.
- TRSM Business Career Hub is running virtual bootcamps and virtual appointments with career consultants and career coordinators over the summer to all TRSM undergraduate students.
- TRSM graduate alumni webinars: on topics covering the grocery sector, finance, CPG and retail, career transition, networking, and job search. Events posted in weekly e-newsletters.
- One-on-one career coaching: Available online and by phone through both RCCC and TRSM (Business Career Hub, external link & Graduate Careers).
- Virtual panel discussions: with employers on recruitment in the time of COVID-19. Events posted on the RCCC LinkedIn page, external link and the RCCC events calendar, external link.
- Online resumé and cover letter critiques: The RCCC service will be available to all students starting in the summer semester, where applications can be reviewed without the need for a live appointment.
- TRSM and RCCC Faculty weekly e-newsletters: These email newsletters, offered by each graduate program, and by faculty (RCCC), offer students up-to-date information on student funding, job opportunities, and other resources.
- Career Boost program: Managed by the RCCC, 300 positions are available for summer 2020 working with faculties and departments across campus. Hiring employers have been working to ensure positions can be converted to a remote working set-up during the COVID-19 period.
- Co-op students: Virtual site visits support both students and employer partners. A contingency plan is being developed to safeguard the Summer 2020 co-op experience – “our aim is to ensure that no student misses out on having that key professional opportunity,” said director Caroline Konrad.
- google docImmediate needs resources, external link: A list of resources for students with urgent needs for employment, financial aid, and more.
- D2L online learning modules: Covering career advisory and job search topics.
- LinkedIn Learning: Career-building courses and videos free for Ryerson students.
- GRADCentral in D2L: An online hub of career planning and professional development resources for all Ryerson graduate students.
Ryerson career advisors recommend that students focus on staying positive and watching for opportunities, using their research skills, critical thinking, and creative skill set.
“If students tap into opportunities they find, and leverage them as resources, they will shine brightly among recruiters who are looking for candidates that embrace change, during and post COVID-19,” said TRSM’s Rebecca Dirnfeld.
“We want to let students know that as anxiety-prone as this situation can feel, it's not permanent,” adds RCCC’s Caroline Konrad. “Despite how challenging it may feel, students will ultimately be positioned well for the future. This is effectively a moment in time and we are here to help you navigate that moment.