Graduates: use Covid-19 to your advantage!

Author: Andy Brookes, Business Development Manager, Discovery
Connect with Andy on LinkedIn

Covid-19 turned the world on its head! For University students and recent Graduates, this has meant virtual lectures, changes to assessments and, unfortunately, a decrease in the amount of graduate jobs available.

The good news is, graduate recruitment is bouncing back! If you’re looking to apply for a graduate role, here are some tips on how you can use the experiences you’ve had in Covid-19 to your advantage.

1. Placements, internships, etc. going virtual

Firstly, it’s really important to remember that a virtual way of working doesn’t diminish the experience you’ve gained – you can still draw out all of the valuable things you learnt or were involved in.

Equally, if things were more challenging virtually, use that to your advantage to explore how you overcame challenges and adapted. In fact, it’s worth considering how you contributed to any innovative or new ways of working – because the situation was uncharted territory, you might be surprised how much of a difference you actually made.

Another important thing to remember is that, for many, virtual practices and some aspects of working from home are here to stay. Your virtual experiences are actually very relevant and have prepared you for working in a hybrid workforce.

In terms of recruitment processes themselves, many companies are looking to keep elements of virtual recruitment as their ‘norm’ going forward, as it has enabled businesses to retain a wider candidate pool. The experience you've had communicating in a virtual world has helped to prepare you for this.

2. Taking a ‘stopgap’ job

When the world went a bit mad, a lot of graduate recruitment was put on hold. Now it’s bouncing back, you can really draw upon any experiences you had in the working world.

Firstly, getting a ‘stopgap’ job in a supermarket, as a delivery driver, etc. shows that you have taken the initiative, have a strong work ethic and are driven.

It’s really important to not downplay these roles throughout a recruitment process. You’d be surprised how many graduates only use University group projects as examples in a competency-based interview. Using a group project once or twice is fine, but if you have real-world experience, that’s even better!

Think about what transferrable skills you’ve learnt in your ‘stopgap’ job. Talking to customers – that’s communication. Coming up with more effective ways to stack shelves – that’s problem-solving and innovation. Helping to train up new recruits – that’s leadership.

3. Inability to complete University face-to-face

For most students, Covid has impacted on their degree in some way or another. Depending on your course, this has been felt more for some people than others. No matter how little or much you were affected, when you’re going through a recruitment process, it’s good to be honest about the impact this has had.

One of the most common examples we’ve seen so far this year is from engineering graduates who have been unable to physically build their final projects, having to rely on modelling software instead. The reality of this means some graduates had less experience in hands-on engineering practice than they would have otherwise.

Employers are sympathetic about this – it wasn’t your fault. Instead, look for ways to draw out what you learnt from the situation. A set-back like that could make for a really good competency-based answer, as well as showing adaptability, resilience and software experience.

Hopefully these tips have been helpful! Good luck in your job search, and don’t forget to take a look at the graduate roles available on our job board.

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