The current pandemic has changed the career path for many. Whether you are a recent graduate about to enter the job market for the first time or a young professional, you are not in this alone. The current unemployment rate in the U.S. has risen to 14.7%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and it seems many are finding themselves in a similar circumstance to those of the 2008 recession when unemployment was at 7.2%.
OCPRSA President Charla Batey, MBA, APR, was just finishing her undergraduate program at the time of the financial crisis in 2008. We met with her to hear about what her early years in the job market were like/ She shared these career tips she has for anyone currently finding themselves in a similar position.
Pay attention to job industries
Rewind to spring of 2007, after receiving her Bachelor of Arts in Literary Journalism from the University of California, Irvine, Batey examined the job market and with a clear indicator that it was starting to suffer, decided graduate school was her next move. She left Orange County to attend the Print Journalism graduate program at the University of California, Berkeley. By January 2008, the recession was in full swing, Batey said, “I quickly saw the media landscape change, newsrooms and media companies were downsizing and journalism positions were harder to come by, I made the decision to leave the program.”
Once she returned to Orange County, Batey worked part-time communications and marketing roles in various industries to further her understanding of which industry she was most passionate for. Growing up in a family of both higher education and human resources backgrounds led her to be strategic when taking any opportunity. By April 2011, the economy began to rise and so did the job market. Batey researched many industries to identify which were performing well and looking to hire. She took a full-time role as the Media and Public Relations Coordinator for Morgan Dexren, a financial protection and debt firm many people leveraged to assist as a result of the financial crisis.
“Individuals currently seeking employment should have a clear understanding of industry trends,” said Batey, “For example, during this pandemic medical and technology companies are continuing to grow, pay attention to those industries as they continue to hire.”
Follow your road map and gain as much experience as possible
Always have a direction for the type of job or company you work for. “You may want to jump into any role that comes your way, it’s important to make sure the opportunity aligns with your values and will help you get to your next goal,” said Batey. This is the advice she would tell herself throughout her early career while getting the opportunity to work in various industries and roles.
As one continues to look for “their” role, there are also many ways individuals can build their resume during this pandemic. During the three years of the financial crisis, Batey worked while also freelancing on the side. “Freelancing and volunteering is the best way to gain experience. If you’re in a position where you can you definitely should.” From attending PRSA events to volunteering your time to a company or event, all this experience could lead one to a potential position or employer. Batey was not a member of PRSA until later in her career and looking back wishes she would have taken advantage of the professional organization earlier.
Look for opportunities in broader places
This March, companies adopted the work from home business model, and as many businesses and companies reopen their doors, some companies are realizing employees are able to execute their duties while working remote. Individuals seeking job opportunities now have the capability to work for companies in other states or countries without leaving their home. Batey said, “don’t limit yourself to just looking for opportunities within your community or city. Working from home can open doors just about anywhere. With the power of technology, you have the chance to work remotely for a company in another state or country, this is an opportunity was not as common in 2008.”
While it may seem like opportunities are limited it is important to always stay motivated. More than ten years after the ‘08 recession, Batey works as Communications Specialist for Cox Communications and serves as OCPRSA President. Her last piece of advice is, “through it all, always remember to work hard, be kind, and stay humble.”