How to Search for an Internship or Job During a Recession

While the fundamentals of the job search process are similar regardless of economic climate, here are some ways to refine your approach when job hunting during a recession.

After months of a red-hot job market, many companies are announcing a series of layoffs and hiring slowdowns. These reports on a slowing job market and the beginning of a potential recession may seem daunting to new job seekers, who are likely concerned about fewer job openings and less job security after accepting an offer. While the fundamentals of the job search process are similar regardless of economic climate, here are some ways to refine your approach when job hunting during a recession.

Update your resume to highlight in-demand skills 

Job seekers will want to highlight a combination of soft skills and technical skills. For instance, research from LinkedIn found that some of the skills that employers were most likely to include in job postings were customer service, sales, time management, engineering, and SQL. Find some of the skills and keywords that are most applicable to your desired industry and role, and pepper these skills throughout your resume. Some places in a resume where you can show off your skills include a specific skills section, as well as the bullet point descriptions under your work experience or relevant projects. Find more tips on resume writing here

Brush up on your interview skills

With many candidates vying for the same position, you’ll want to stand out during the interview process, too. Start by reviewing our Interviewing 101 tips to help tailor your background research on the company, prepare for some frequently asked interview questions, and make a good first impression. It’s also a good idea to have some of your own questions prepared for the end of the interview. In a recession, you may also want to incorporate some questions about job security, challenges the company is currently facing, and current plans for additional hiring and expansion.

Jump on opportunities to upskill and build connections to companies

It’s no time to be shy. During an economic downturn, you’re going to want to get out of your comfort zone by forming new skills and new relationships. To make your application more competitive, take advantage of opportunities to learn something new, such as by accepting a leadership position in an extracurricular activity, or taking some university or online courses that will build up your technical skills, like a programming language or graphic design. 

At the same time, put in the effort to get to know some recruiters or current employees at your target companies. Attend university career fairs, set up informational interviews, and see if the company hosts their own virtual recruitment events. Another tip is that some companies might be looking to hire their own interns into full-time roles rather than find new applicants, so keep an open mind about applying for internship opportunities in addition to full-time positions. 

Keep your network warm 

Networking isn’t just about meeting new people. It’s also about staying connected to people you’ve met before. Stay in touch with recruiters you’ve met at previous recruitment events, supervisors from jobs and internships you’ve had in the past, as well as professionals you’ve spoken with during informational interviews. Maintaining these positive professional relationships will make it easier to learn more about job opportunities that may interest you, and to request references during the job application process.

Use career services at school, and platforms like RippleMatch who know the companies hiring now

Take advantage of available resources for finding job postings and connecting directly with recruiters. Your university’s career center will have partnerships with companies that specifically want to recruit students from your school. Career counselors can also work with you to refine your resume and interview skills, as well as make recommendations for what types of companies and roles to apply for based on your interests and previous experience. Likewise, you can create a RippleMatch profile to further expand your exposure to companies that are hiring now for internships and full-time roles. 

Stay positive!

Job hunting during a recession can be frustrating if it takes longer than you expected to see results. But don’t give up! Keep learning, networking, and applying to maximize your chance of finding your next role. 


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