Finding Work During a Pandemic: A Guide for Graduates Part 2

09 Dec 2020
Finding Work During COVID-19
09 Dec 2020

Story: Ingrid van der Merwe

In part 1 of this article, I talked about what sort of work you could think about and apply for. Currently, you may have a very undemanding job or have periods where you have no work at all. Let’s talk about how you can make the best use of this time.

Learn something new

If your “paying the rent” job is not very exciting, stimulate yourself by doing free online courses. There are loads of possibilities. LinkedIn Learning has 14 000 courses and you can learn anything from project management to online marketing. And that’s just one platform! This is also a good way to upskill yourself and prepare for the post COVID jobs that you aspire to. Online courses are good to put on your CV and signal your willingness to learn to a potential employer.

Brush up your CV and LinkedIn profile

When you do apply for something, if your CV does not communicate your skills and experience well, you may not even get shortlisted. Any time spent improving your CV will increase your chances of making it to the next round. Have a look at our CV mini-series, and other resources on the UCT Careers Service website.

Remember that the best applications are targeted to the job that you are applying for. A good cover letter is essential in this regard. The link above will also help.

Make sure your LinkedIn profile represents you well, so that you can also be found by recruiters who may search for your skills or degree. Here is a great site with tips for improving your profile and using LinkedIn for your job search:

Learn about selection processes

Even before you get an interview, there is much to be learnt about preparation for an interview and how to answer common questions. Find help here:

Be curious and put time into networking

Connect with people on LinkedIn with roles you aspire to, who have your degree or who work at organisations you are keen on. Ask them about their jobs, and what experience they suggest that you gain. This is called informational interviewing, and it is a good technique to know about. Find more information here:

Follow groups you are interested in and look at sector and company websites too.

Set targets to keep yourself on track

Have a plan. Set daily/weekly goals for networking and applications. For example:

  • 4 Informational Interviews (and ask the targeted person to refer you to 2 other people in their network for Informational Interviews)
  • 6 Job applications
  • 4 social media connections on LinkedIn or other platforms

Record all you apply for and who you are in contact with on excel.

And lastly, practise self-care

It’s been a tough year, and we don’t know yet how long this storm will last and whether it will get worse before it gets better. Make sure that you prioritise your mental and physical health and that you don’t spend your life sitting in front of your computer.

We all have COVID 19 fatigue, but it helps to connect with others and share the burden of these times together. Most of all, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you are struggling, and reach out to a counsellor, a friend or a medical professional. Also remember that all that is happening is helping us to develop resilience. And fortunately, that is also a sought-after skill in the workplace!


Ingrid van der Merwe is the Head of Careers Advisory at the UCT Careers Service