Job Search Tips for 2021 Graduates

Be Distinctive

Right now, the job market is the hottest it’s been in recent years as companies are hiring following the COVID-19 pandemic, but that also means the competition is fierce right now.

Because many 2020 graduates had to put off their job hunt while companies went through closures and lay-offs, there are even more of your peers applying for the same jobs you are right now. That means your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile need to be polished and stand out. 

However, for the same reason, the competition is stiff in the current job market; the popularity of remote jobs and internships also opens up the ability for you to apply to opportunities across the country—and the world!

Be Open-minded

While job postings on Handshake are at a high, not all sectors are hiring equally. The top industries looking to hire new graduates were the pandemic’s big winners: tech, financial services, education, and professional services, according to Handshake data. It’s essential to be flexible in your job search at a time like this and think about what skills you could bring to a role as well as what skills you could gain, even if the job isn’t exactly your dream role. 

Settling for what is available doesn’t have to be a bad thing either! While working in your not-dream-job, you can spend that time also taking classes and getting additional certifications, attending webinars and events, and upskilling.

Be Prepared

Having classes, meetings, and hangouts over video chat platforms like Zoom has become commonplace in the past year, but it’s still important to treat virtual interviews the same way you would an in-person one. Make sure to dress professionally, prepare for any questions they may ask, know how to work the features of the platform being used for the interview, and that your setup is well-lit without any distractions in the background.

Some workplaces have also started requesting pre-recorded video interviews in which you answer a list of questions they have provided. Though this type of interview is not live, there is still not much time between receiving the questions and the deadline for sending the video, so it’s still important to prepare in advance.

If you’re nervous, ask a friend or family member to take you through a mock interview, or schedule an advising appointment, or drop in with a peer coach!

Be Creative

You should also be ready to explain how you spent 2020, especially if your summer internship disappeared because of the pandemic and a gap in your resume. Did you do any freelance work? What about personal projects? Did you take any new classes in your free time? Did you volunteer anywhere? You can also highlight any new hobbies you picked up to show you’re willing to and capable of learning new things.

You may have skills you never even thought about that you can highlight, including soft skills!

And if you are still looking for ways to add to your resume, there are plenty of ways to gain experience outside of a traditional internship.

Be Authentic

While your network is a valuable resource in job hunting, it’s also a great space for building relationships with peers in your industry. Not every contact in your network will be in the position to give you a job when you need one, but it’s still essential to maintain and build relationships without expecting a transaction. Professionals in your industry — especially DePaul alumni — can give you helpful advice and share their experiences.

Consider setting up an informational interview with someone in your field or bringing up the possibility of job shadowing at a company you’re interested in or with someone whose role is appealing to you. Check out the ASK Network to connect with alumni.

And don’t forget to give back when you can and open yourself up to meeting with students as a professional in your field, or pass on opportunities you come across to your peers if it’s not something right for you!

More information:

College Hiring For Class of 2016

By: Tara Golenberke, marketing professional in the education industry, and former digital media & marketing manager at the DePaul Career Center

Preparing for life after DePaul, can you imagine it? Let us paint you a picture.

You’re decked out in your new work gear, clutching a portfolio that houses years of experience – The daily grind, the kindled dreams, the future goals and the pool of new connections. You’re ready for the job interview, and you’re confident knowing that the college-hiring outlook is, well, killer.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Job Outlook 2016 report, employers plan to hire 11 percent more new college graduates from the Class of 2016 for their U.S. operations than they did from the Class of 2015.

Not only is U.S. hiring going to increase for 2016 graduates, but respondents recruiting for positions outside of the U.S. also expect to increase hiring, based on report findings.

The final quarter is in full swing, and the reality of preparing for life after college is sinking in for this year’s graduating seniors. Fortunately, graduates, the job market is looking bright.

Degrees in Demand

Regardless of degree level, graduates of the business, engineering, computer and information sciences categories are most in demand, based on the report. Top degrees in demand by broad category include business, engineering, computer and information sciences, math and sciences, communications, and social sciences.

“Within the humanities disciplines, liberal arts/general studies majors are most in demand, with 94 percent of respondents indicating they will hire these graduates,” noted the report.

If your degree category or major is not listed among the “in demand,” don’t fret, as recruiters do not evaluate candidates based on this criterion alone.

What Employers Are Looking For

Work Experience

There is no question that employers consider work experience when hiring college graduates. According to the report, a very small pool of respondents – only 6.3 percent to be exact – said that work experience does not factor into their hiring decisions. Rather, a whopping 91% of respondents preferred to hire candidates with some type of work experience under their belt.

GPA Screening

According to the report, 69.3 percent of recruiters will screen candidates from the 2016 class, and a little over 70 percent of employers who plan to screen candidates by GPA will use a cutoff of 3.0. Although GPA has a strong influence, so do other factors including leadership skills, participation in extracurricular activities and written and verbal communications skills.

Power of Social Media

The trend of utilizing technology in the recruiting process ceases to waver. The report stated, “more than half of the respondents to this year’s survey plan to use more social networks and/or more technology in general in their recruiting methods.” Maintaining a professional online presence is more important than ever.

Career Exploration at DePaul

No matter where you are in your career search, whether it’s finding the right career path, arranging a portfolio, landing an internship or preparing for your first job interview, the DePaul Career Center is here to support you. Allow our advisors and professionals to share their wealth of knowledge about today’s employers and the strategies and tools you need to impress and ultimately achieve your career goals. Learn more about the Career Center and start connecting with alumni and employers today.


UPDATE: NACE just released new projections based on the Job Outlook 2016 Spring Update survey, which was conducted from February 10 – March 22, 2016. Employers now expect to hire 5.2% more graduates this year compared to the 11% they projected earlier. They also found the average number of job postings for the 2015-16 recruiting year is down compared to the 2014-15 year. You can find more projections based on the spring survey, here.

So far, the DePaul University Career Center has seen a 22% increase in the number of job postings this recruiting year over last. Visit Handshake to apply for jobs posted. The Career Center plans to monitor these projections as well as employer activity to continue to best serve DePaul students and their career search.