UM career coaches offer guidance for grads on the job hunt

(KPAX) Diplomas have been received, tassels turned and the hope of landing your first job is finally in sight, or at least it was before the pandemic.

Navigating the job market has never looked so grim.

University of Montana career coach Cheryl Minnick has seen the challenges firsthand in some of the students she advises.

“It’s a super challenging time right now. Everyone is tempered with that anxiety and fear, feeling a little isolated,” said Minnick.

While career fairs have been canceled and many companies put on hiring freezes, if you’re thinking about throwing in the towel, the University of Montana’s career coaches say “not so fast.”

“If it feels overwhelming and it feels like, ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t find a job, I don’t know what to do next. I don’t know what to do with my degree,’ that’s what we’re here for, to help carry that burden with students and help them find the opportunities that they’re looking for,” said career coach Micall Searles.

For starters, the career coaches want you to know there are still companies hiring right now. You just have to know where to look.

Searles suggests websites like USA Jobs, Glassdoor, Indeed, Handshake, or LinkedIn.

“I just actually went on Handshake a couple of days ago and in Missoula alone there are 150 jobs posted right now,” said Searles.

Next step, begin building your personal brand.

“Start to look at what your digital footprint looks like,” said Minnick. “What are employers seeing when they go to your LinkedIn profile?”

A bonus on any resume or LinkedIn page is volunteer experience.

“Go to the AmeriCorps website and explore the different opportunities there. There are summer opportunities, one year post grad opportunities and more,” said Searles.

If you were gearing up for an internship instead of a job, and that opportunity was rescinded, they suggest reaching back out and asking if you could unbundle the internship and complete parts of it remotely.

If you can’t commit to a full-time internship, the University of Montana recently partnered with Parker Dewey to offer micro-internships.

For parents and mentors looking to help your graduate navigate, career coach Laci Baker recommends looking over your child’s resume and cover letters, and encouraging them to step back and take a break when they’re feeling overwhelmed.

Most importantly, each coach said the key to finding a job amid the pandemic is to stay competitive.

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