Pandemic creates both challenges and opportunities for career advancement

Robert Mowry, Guest Writer

Robert Mowry is a Strategic CTO and University Blockchain Certificate Instructor who teaches at CSUSM’s Extended Learning Center.

For many who are attempting to carve out the beginnings of their career, the uncertainty of a volatile job market coupled with COVID-19 concerns can make the prospect of graduating make one want to dive right back into bed. 

With so many jobs going remote, opening the possibility of a position to those that are outside of a business’ geographical area, it leaves many with questions as far as the indispensability of their hard-earned skill sets. 

While it’s true that this wrinkle of remote working does ramp up the competition, this can have the positive effect of also opening opportunities for CSUSM students committed to staying local to tap into organizations in San Francisco, Dallas, New York or other metropolitan hotspots that are continually clamoring for talent. 

For those with aspirations to have a career in computer science, sales or several other fields that have been radically changed by the pandemic, this represents an opportunity to pivot and solidify one’s standing in one’s field.

I teach a tech certificate program here at CSUSM and routinely help aspiring tech-savvy students navigate the murky employment waters, en route to helping them land a position at a coveted company. 

The three pieces of advice I would impart to students looking to make a splash in their field are as follows.

First, beef up your resume on LinkedIn, taking special care to include industry buzzwords in your profile description. 

Savvy recruiters often search with these words to sift through potential hires by seeing which ones can skillfully use industry jargon. 

To pull back the curtain a bit, a regional HR manager or recruiter may sift through professionals with an advanced search perimeter string that would include putting in a list of regional schools whose degree quality they favor, such as CSUSM, an industry keyword, and are connected to a particular person or group. This process narrows down their search of, say, pharmaceutical sales people, from tens of thousands to a handful. 

Next, read industry publications and niche topics so that, when approached by a potential employer, you’ll be able to speak with authority about as many nuanced areas of your field as possible. 

Very often an employer may be uncertain about a candidate until the interviewee volunteers some recent industry knowledge that the interviewer themself was not aware of. This demonstrates a keen ability to absorb information quickly and communicate it, hallmarks of an essential employee who adds considerable value to an organization. 

Lastly, reach out to companies with whom your passions share an overlap, even if the job description lists some specializations that don’t necessarily apply to you. 

Very often the boss will list off every skill or coding language they can think of off the top of their head and have an executive assistant blast off the disorganized job description to the far reaches of the internet. 

This comprehensive list can be intimidating and absolutely dissuades some from applying. 

Don’t let this intimidation get the better of you. I routinely see employers asking for five to seven years of experience in a coding language only having been minted two to three years ago. 

If you approach a company skillfully, with professionalism and an impactful cover letter, there’s very little to lose and even if you don’t make it for this position, now you’re on their internal database, easily accessible to be nudged for future opportunities. 

In approaching the working world, you’ve done yourself a great favor in starting with a solid foundation of CSUSM to grace your resume. 

Employing the above practices and others to best communicate your value to an organization is the last piece of the puzzle that will go a long way to helping your career arc continue to progress and build, even amid uncertainty. 

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