Congratulations, class of 2020! Your dedication and hard work have brought you far. Now for your toughest challenge yet: finding a job in an economy ravaged by COVID-19. Here is how to jumpstart your career with an online Calendar.

Illnesses and stay-at-home orders have led to millions of layoffs. To land a job, you’ll have to compete against people with more work experience, connections, and financial resources. It won’t be easy. But if you’re diligent, you can do it. 

Using a Calendar to Launch Your Career

To stay organized and accountable, you’ll need an online calendar. Here’s how to use one to show employers your stuff:

1. Learn a New Skill

The knowledge you’ve gained while earning your diploma is incredible. It’s also just the beginning.

Hiring managers look for candidates who are willing to learn. Use your online calendar to help you learn a new skill in order to impress them. “Hard” skills like coding might seem like the clear choice, but don’t underestimate the value of “soft” ones. 

Develop the skill you choose with real-world experience: Learning empathy by volunteering at a crisis response center might be just the ticket. Use your online calendar to schedule practice periods, whether those consist of volunteering shifts or online coursework. 

2. Network Like a Pro

Whatever you studied in school, your success in the professional world rests on one thing: networking. Professional relationships lead to opportunities and learning experiences that you simply can’t create for yourself. 

Make your calendar home to every coffee chat and Zoom call you set up. Use tools like one-click scheduling to communicate to others that you respect their time. Keep an eye on your calendar’s analytics to make sure you’re spending enough time with your mentors.

3. Master Your Morning Routine

Want to be a successful business leader someday? Craft your morning routine to look like theirs

There’s no right answer for how you should begin each day. Your goal should be to start out on a productive, stress-free foot, which is just as important while you’re hunting for a job as when you’re actually working one.

Whatever routine helps you do that, log it in your calendar app. That way, knowing what you should be doing when you get out of bed is as simple as glancing at your phone.

4. Schedule and Prepare

In an economy like this, getting a job often boils down to preparation. Employers can tell who’s prepared for the interview and who hasn’t.

Be religious: Add interview dates and times to your calendar as soon as you receive them. Set your notification preferences to remind you to rehearse ahead of time. Set another reminder to remind you to thank the interviewer afterward.

Another benefit of notifications? They make sure you’re never late to your appointments. Being prompt makes a great first impression. 

5. Get Certified

What if you find out you’re losing positions to candidates who are more educated than you? Is it time to go back to school already? Not necessarily: Certifications can put you over the top.

Getting certified is a lot like taking an online course. You’ll need to listen carefully to the lessons and score high enough on a standardized test in order to pass. Use your online calendar to make time to research certifications and study up. 

Certifications exist in every field. If you studied nursing, for example, you can get CPR-certified. If you’re a marketer, HubSpot offers certifications in content marketing, inbound marketing, and more. Google Cloud certifications are in demand among developers. 

6. Embrace Workshops

While on the hunt for job opportunities, don’t discount workshops and seminars. These sessions can deepen your understanding of your subject area while giving you a chance to network with professionals in your field. 

Remember, you won’t get the full value of a seminar simply by sitting through it. Set goals, be present, and take notes on the material presented. Ask questions of the presenter, and stick around afterward to chat with the other attendees. 

7. Focus on Fitness

In tough times, you have to take care of your physical health. Not only do its benefits carry over to your mental health, but they might actually make you a more desirable team member.

A study by the University of British Columbia found that participating in regular exercise can help improve the parts of your brain that aid in memory and learning. Although aerobic exercise seemed to have the greatest impact, all types of exercise are beneficial. 

Use your online calendar to set up a sustainable fitness routine. Aim for at least an hour per day of exercise, varying your workouts in type and intensity.

8. Build Your Personal Brand

A positive image is a must in this employment environment. More and more employers are looking at the social media accounts of job applicants to get a sense of how they conduct themselves outside the workplace.

What do potential employers see when they search you? Do you seem upstanding and professional, or are photos of you partying all over the internet?

Treat your online calendar as a social media scheduler. Add reminders for yourself to post professional and uplifting content, especially on LinkedIn. Just 1% of LinkedIn’s monthly users share content, so doing so can help you stand out. 

9. Get Involved

Wherever you are, lean on your community to help you get better. Community service can single-handedly sway a choice between candidates in your favor.

How should you give back? In every community, you could volunteer at a soup kitchen or an animal shelter, or do highway cleanup. If possible, find something in your field: If you want to teach, could you be a tutor? Perhaps if you’re a designer, you could help a local charity with a pro-bono logo project.

Maximize your impact by importing the organization’s volunteering schedule into your online calendar. Fill gaps in volunteer hours, and you’ll build a reputation as a team player. 

Even in an economy like this, there are so many ways you can get a jumpstart on your career. Choose one, two, or all nine, and let your online calendar light the way forward. The right role for you is out there, no matter what the national unemployment rate might be.