job, entry level
(Travelerpix/Shutterstock.com)

Job-Seeking in the New Normal: 3 Tips for Entry-Level Professionals

In Part 1 of this three-part series, Shawndel Evans, DiversityInc’s strategic lead of diversity pipeline management, shares tips on how job applicants can be successful in a COVID-19-affected job market.

The class of 2020 college graduates have entered a job market that has been derailed and become uncertain because of COVID-19. While finding an entry-level job is often stressful, the effects of the global pandemic have shrunken the pool of openings even further. However, it has not necessarily shrunken opportunities for recent grads and entry-level applicants to stand out.

(Photo courtesy of Shawndel Evans)

Shawndel Evans, the strategic lead of diversity pipeline management at DiversityInc, has spent much of his career working in talent acquisition and recruitment. He says for entry-level candidates, being prepared and using resources like job listing sites and email listservs remain important in getting one’s foot in the door. Above all, networking is key, because many job openings never make it to advertised listings. They are instead filled by contacts made through professional networks. Much of this networking can be done remotely.

Related: Companies Hiring Amid COVID-19 Crisis

“Whether you make contact with a potential employer by responding to a job listing, through networking and involvement in professional associations, or by reaching out to an organization you are interested in, there are many other parts of the employment process — such as creating an effective resume, navigating the job interview and negotiating a salary — where effective strategies can help you land the position that is right for you,” Evans said.

Evans provided further tips on networking and demonstrating skills and value in a corporate world still affected by COVID-19.

Connect with an insider.

Job seekers can connect with insiders at organizations they’re interested through a number of remote means. “Try connecting on LinkedIn, joining a professional organization he or she is a member of, or use your personal network to garner an introduction. Then, continue forging that connection by conveying your passion and the value you can bring to the role,” Evans advises.

Evans stressed the importance of connecting with individuals within companies that job seekers can use as contacts to expand the impression they beyond what’s on paper. “Find someone on the inside of the company and send your information directly to that person — or, depending on the relationship you form, ask that person to vouch for you. It’s a gutsy move (especially if you have no prior connection to that person), but a personal reference almost always results in a higher success rate than relying solely on your cover letter and resume to get you the job,” he said.

Showcase your skills.

It is also important for job seekers to not just “tell,” but also “show” their skills. A portfolio of relevant work provides concrete evidence of credentials listed in cover letters and resumes. Portfolios on paper are useful to bring to interviews, however in-person interviews are becoming less commonplace, and oftentimes the portfolio itself is what will pique employers’ interest enough to bring a candidate in for the interview in the first place.

“Do yourself a favor and build an online portfolio that employers can access immediately when they receive your application materials. Your portfolio then becomes a tool that helps you land the interview, instead of something you showcase at the interview,” Evans said.

Additionally, online portfolios can allow candidates to showcase multimedia work. “Do you have experience developing proposals and securing funding for projects? Include a proposal, timeline, and photos or a time-lapse video of the project in your portfolio,” Evans advised.

Related: 6 Lessons COVID-19 Has Taught Companies About ‘Business as Usual’

Demonstrate your value.

Every individual has unique skills and experiences that could lend themselves to an organization. Don’t be afraid to offer ideas that demonstrate how you would be valuable to the company.

“Think about what the company needs, and develop something unique around that,” Evans said. “For example, you could develop a proposal for a new program, an out-of-the-box marketing tactic, or a grant opportunity. The opportunities are endless — you simply have to use your knowledge of the company and your creativity to develop something relevant and realistic.”

The benefits of offering unique ideas are twofold: One, it shows the candidate has done their research on the company and what it needs, and two, it shows their effort and enthusiasm, “qualities that any sane employer wants in every employee,” Evans said.

Latest News

Biden Stands by His Commitment to LGBTQ rights; Cost of Racism in the U.S. Tops $16 Trillion; Black and Latinx Continue to Die from COVID-19 at Nearly Twice the Rate of Whites; and More

Biden reaffirms commitment to LGBTQ rights; promises to pass Equality Act. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden doubled down on his promises to the LGBTQ community while speaking at a presidential town hall for the Human Rights Campaign Foundation on Sept. 24. “You deserve a partner in the White House to…

degeneres, work, show

Leadership Lessons to be Gleaned from Ellen DeGeneres’ Toxic Workplace Scandal

Ellen DeGeneres began her daytime talk show’s 18th season with an apology after a summer of allegations against her that claimed her show promoted a toxic work environment rife with racism, sexual misconduct and other mistreatment. In August 2020, three senior producers — executive producers Ed Glavin and Kevin Leman…

COVID entrepreneur

Explosive New Growth in Small Businesses Due to COVID-19; America’s Police Force is Not Becoming More Diverse Despite BLM Movement; the Best and Worst Performing States in the 2020 Census; and More

Even with incredible nationwide unemployment rates, the creation of new small and diverse businesses has exploded due to COVID-19. Finally some news coming out of our pandemic: The Philadelphia Tribune reports that as bars and restaurants closed and stay-at-home orders were put into place earlier in 2020 to help fight…

Justice for Breonna not served; The essential rule of politics; Teen serves two months in jail for not doing homework; and More

Justice for Breonna not served as grand jury indicted officer who shot her with wanton endangerment — but not murder. “Outrageous and offensive.” Those were  by attorney to the family, Ben Crump to describe the grand jury’s decision in the March 13 fatal police shooting of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor. While…

IBM, EEOC, age

EEOC Unearths Years of Intentional Age Discrimination within IBM

After a long investigation, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has revealed that IBM leaders had directed managers to replace older workers with younger ones. Between 2013 and 2018, nearly 86% of those considered for layoffs within the organization were older employees over the age of 40. The investigation showed…

Breathe March in Globe Park, New York, USA - 12 Sep 2020

Cities under attack from the Justice Department; Louisville bracing for the Breonna Taylor murder charge; Twitter reveals its racist side; and More

Justice department attacks three U.S. cities, declaring them anarchist zones — despite most of the protests that took place in each city being peaceful marches in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. In a move designed to pull federal funding from New York City, Seattle and Portland, OR, the…

ginsburg, supreme, court

The Lasting Legacy of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — Plus the Four Biggest Issues Currently at Stake Following Her Death

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who served on the nation’s highest court for 27 years, passed away Friday, Sept. 18 at the age 87. “As the second woman ever to sit on the highest court in the land, she was a warrior for gender equality — someone who believed…