Using challenging times to your advantage

Charlie Meek

Charlie Meek

For the last 20 years, Charlie Meek has led creative and brand marketing …


One thing that the current pandemic gives us is time, says’s Arran Stewart, so why not use this to your advantage? Check out his tips for building a roadmap towards achieving your goals and ultimately, landing a fulfilling position

For those coming to the end of their academic programme or recent graduates, it probably feels like the odds are stacked against you right now. Instead of all the hours of study, preparation and testing finally paying off, the world faces one of the biggest unforeseen challenges in modern history. With more than 36 million people unemployed in the US alone, and everything from borders to primary schools locked down, it feels like the absolute worst time to be looking for a job.

As a fellow Business School graduate with a master’s degree (received 14 years ago), I had to face the first world-changing, socioeconomic catastrophe of the 2000s – the Great Recession. Nonetheless, reflecting on that time and comparing it to now, I now know some things that would have given me an advantage when I had my own uphill battle for work.

Use LinkedIn

You get as much out of Linkedin as you put into it. At the beginning of its lifecycle, it was inconceivable to connect with CEOs of FT 500 companies. Today, all it takes is a click. Most people in the working world have a presence on LinkedIn. Personally, I think LinkedIn is the best possible tool to distinguish oneself in the recruitment process as a new graduate.

Having a distinct personal brand and a well-connected and active network opens up opportunities like no other. Use your profile as an opportunity to brand yourself and develop a clear identity. Write articles, share relevant content, interact with the posts of others – create as much engagement as you can on the platform.

Be sure your profile is visible and available for recruiters to find you. Identify companies that are hiring and that you’re interested in and follow their pages. Connect with senior people in the business and engage with their posts. Sending short, polite messages introducing yourself and asking for advice on getting your foot in the door at the company are helpful and an excellent way to build name recognition in the application process, beyond the résumé.

Distribute your résumé

Another great tool to get as many eyes as possible on your résumé is to use a résumé distribution service. For a small fee, these services automatically register you on every major job board. Based on your preferences (and the service’s capabilities), these services can also curate jobs according to your preferences and notify you when a desired company or position is hiring. You’ll also be visible to all recruiters using these job boards, making it easier to turn the numbers game of job searching in your favour.

Services of this kind, such as Résumé Rabbit, save time and effort, and have the unintended benefit of being less popular, which can amplify your résumé to recruiters in a less competitive environment.


Job aggregators are another useful web-based tool to save time and effort in the job hunt. Aggregators compile most, if not all, of the jobs on the market from every job board to make it easier to search for a desired role. Consider it a vertical search engine for all the job sites. Like the distribution services mentioned above, aggregators are excellent time and effort savers. Look for an aggregator with an easily understood interface that also offers useful market insights and advice.

Try to intern

Understandably, interning isn’t economically feasible for everyone but if you can it’s a great way to get in at a company. Showing initiative and desire to work well for free can highlight what you can offer to the business and increase your chances of securing a paid opportunity.

While many formal internship and fellowship opportunities have dried up, keeping in touch with mentors from these programmes can put you first in line once things return to normal. It expresses firm interest in the company and shows initiative, dedication and ambition; something hirers desire in interns and new staff. While it’s not ideal to work for free, it’s another way to hustle your way in under challenging circumstances.

The gift of time

Perhaps the most underrated resource given to us by this pandemic is time. Make the most of the extra time you may have to really get to know the market and clarify your future goals. Research the market to identify growth opportunities and exciting companies that you may want to work for.

Take time to visualise, and write down, your career goals for the next 6-24 months. Having a clear vision makes it easier to build the roadmap to achieving your goals. Eventually, you will get hired and if you don’t use it wisely, you’ll lament the time you wasted not moving towards a fulfilling career. Time is something we cannot buy but you’ve just been handed some, so make the most of it to maximise your future.

Embracing this challenging period in history and using it to your advantage can seem astronomically difficult. However, it’s important to remember that successful people turn horrible situations into advantages. Wallowing in the uncertainties and anxieties that are bound to crop up at times like this may be comforting, but life is full of challenging, difficult situations.

You have to frame your mind to see obstacles as an inevitable part of the road to success and train yourself to keep your head high as you face them. Overcoming obstacles – and learning from them – is the secret to becoming the best version of yourself. I wish you all the luck during this time and remember, the tough times always pass, making the good times all the sweeter.

Read the full article in Business Graduates Association