Job seekers today, including recent college graduates, are encountering a unique challenge in an evolving job market shaped by the aftermath of a pandemic-induced hiring boom: postponed start dates.
After securing a job offer, the anticipation of a delayed commencement can be anxiety-inducing. However, experts suggest that there are productive ways to navigate this situation and turn it into an opportunity for personal and professional growth.
The impact of delayed start dates on job seekers
According to Michael Kalish, the senior associate director for recruiting and internships at Baruch College's Starr Career Development Center, which advises thousands of college students and recent graduates each year, delayed start dates have become increasingly common.
This delay can range from a few weeks to several months, extending into the next year. Job seekers often find themselves in this situation when employers temporarily pause their onboarding processes.
Making the most of a delayed start date
If you're facing a delayed start date, here are six recommendations to help you stay engaged and proactive while waiting to begin your new position:
- Revamp Your LinkedIn Profile: Keep your LinkedIn account updated by regularly posting content, initiating "coffee chats" to network, and joining groups related to your interests.
- Skill Enhancement: Consider enrolling in certification courses or webinars to upskill and stay competitive in your field.
- Professional Associations: Join professional associations to stay informed about industry trends and expand your network.
- Leverage Alumni Connections: Network with alumni, especially those working in the company that extended the job offer.
- Continued Job Search: Continue exploring job opportunities to ensure you have alternatives if the delay extends longer than expected.
- Volunteer: Engage with non-profit organisations aligned with your interests and passions to gain valuable experience and give back to the community.
Expert insights and advice
Gorick Ng, a career advisor at Harvard and author of "The Unspoken Rules," sees delayed start dates as opportunities rather than setbacks. He encourages job seekers to consider these delays as chances to explore activities they might not have otherwise engaged in.
Vicki Salemi, a career expert, and former corporate recruiter, also emphasises the positive aspects of a delay. She suggests job seekers expand their networks by conducting informational interviews with individuals in their desired industries. Utilising alumni networks and reaching out to senior associates at firms of interest can provide valuable insights into the job market and the skills employers seek.
Salemi further advises job seekers to keep their options open by applying to new positions, while maintaining discretion to avoid jeopardizing the existing job offer. This strategy can help individuals practice interviewing skills and make informed comparisons regarding salaries and job locations.
Enhancing skills and pursuing unique opportunities
Ng and Salemi agree that the gap period can be an opportunity for skill development. Job seekers can use online or in-person courses, workshops, and language immersion programs to enhance their skills and qualifications.
Ng particularly emphasises the importance of improving soft skills, such as sales, which can be valuable for those pursuing careers in consulting. Developing these skills during the delay period can benefit future job prospects.
Seising unique opportunities
Both Ng and Salemi encourage job seekers to consider engaging in unique opportunities that align with their career goals.
By participating in experiences that set them apart from the competition, such as internships or special projects, individuals can strengthen their resumes and demonstrate their commitment to potential employers.
The importance of action
Job seekers facing delayed start dates should proactively take steps to enhance their skills, expand their networks, and explore unique opportunities.
By doing so, they can turn a potentially frustrating situation into a period of personal and professional growth. Remember, the key is to stay active and engaged during this time, as doing nothing is the only truly unfavorable choice.
While a delayed start date may initially appear as a setback, it can transform into an opportunity for personal and professional development.
By proactively expanding their networks, enhancing their skills, and pursuing unique opportunities, job seekers can navigate this situation with resilience.