Over the past month it has become evident that an increasing numbers of employers have implemented a hiring freeze, leaving many graduates in limbo between finishing exams and starting their journey into the world of work.

The general consensus from companies is that they anticipate such measures to be in place until the latter part of the year, when they’ll look to reopen applications and possibly hold graduate intakes in early 2021.

Although we recommend using this downtime to have a break and recharge the batteries, we also encourage recent graduates to see this as an opportunity to add more strings to the bow, increasing employability for when opportunities start to reopen.

As well as ensuring the basics are in place such as a strong CV, familiarity with psychometric testing and a clear direction as to desired roles, we have listed five ideas below that are completely free and may prove useful in future applications.

1. Take Professional Courses

According to the World Economic Forum, in just five years, 35 percent of the skills deemed essential today will change. This means that the only way to ensure you’re remaining relevant in a post-coronavirus reality is to commit to continuous learning of new skills. Fortunately, there are a myriad of free resources available to facilitate this.

LinkedIn Learning enables users to access thousands of free courses which cover an array of both soft and hard skills. We recommend focusing in on areas that are likely to be complimentary to a desired career path whilst anticipating skills that will be most desirable to employers in the future (e.g. artificial intelligence, big data and robotics).

2. Learn To Code

We live in a world where nearly every business has some form of digital presence and there is no question that coronavirus will speed up the digital transformation of organisations. Professionals with skills in coding and web development will become even more important than they are today and although a desired career path may not currently require such skills, there’s a likelihood that it will in the future.

Websites like Codecademy are great places to start and enable individuals to learn to code for free. For those who already know the basics, it maybe worth looking at taking a more advanced course on Udemy or Udacity to help develop skills further.

3. Learn A Spoken Language

Living in an increasingly globalised world, most companies highly value employees who can speak multiple languages and some, like Bloomberg, even require a second language for many of their roles. Although you are not going to become fluent in a language in a matter of weeks, it could be a great opportunity to start learning the basics.

Apps like Duolingo are great places to start and help build the foundations of a language in a way that doesn’t feel overwhelming. Individuals can download the app to a smartphone and start learning in bitesized pieces.

4. Build Out Your Digital Profile 

This is a great opportunity to build out a digital profile and there’s no better place to do this than on LinkedIn. Although many will already have a LinkedIn account, they are likely not using the platform to its full potential. We recommend investing time in creating a great profile page, engaging with (and posting) relevant content, and starting conversations with individuals in desired fields. Rather than going around asking for jobs, it’s much better to ask for advice – you’ll be surprised as to how many people are open to conversations and where those conversations can potentially lead.

5. Take Up A New Hobby / Interest

Although unlikely to relate exactly to the undertaking of a desired role, hobbies and interests can develop certain skills whilst going some way in helping securing a role in the first place. As well as offering the potential to find common ground with your interviewer, hobbies and interests can act as great examples for when competency based questions are asked. Some of the best interviews we’ve ever conducted are a result of their conversational nature and this is largely down to the array of talking points that candidates have littered throughout their CV.

Albeit uncertain as to how long it will take for the market to regain steam, there’s no doubting that it will eventually happen, and the ever-changing skills required by companies mean that young professionals are valued more than ever before. There is no escaping the fact however that the graduate market can be a competitive place, and with opportunities likely to be in shorter supply as roles start to reopen, that extra effort put in post-university could be the deciding factor in securing that desired role.

If you want to get the basics in order first, you can find out more tips on CV building, psychometric testing and interview advice via the resource bank when logged into a Final Stage account.