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11 job seeking strategies for tourism graduates during the pandemic

old-airport Abandoned, rusting aircraft on the tarmac of the old Athens Ellinikon International Airport, closed in 2001.
Finding a suitable opportunity was always difficult and tourism graduates were increasingly obliged to work initially for free or even to pay for the privilege of gaining valuable experience. The pandemic has made it worse. According to the latest projection from the WTTC the global travel & tourism sectors may lose up to 174 million jobs in 2020 alone! Relevant job advertisements on Linkedin attract hundreds of applicants within the first few hours. Tour operators and hotels have all but stopped recruiting, big players are laying off or furloughing employees by the thousands, a number of airlines and airports are nearly bankrupt, while funding for domestic and overseas conservation and development projects has been drastically cut. 

It is hard to imagine how the crisis may end unless an effective vaccine is found and widely distributed or if the virus mutates into harmless forms (as happened with the last pandemic a hundred years ago). As no one really knows when this is going to happen, employer and jobseeker pessimism grows exponentially each passing month. It is only natural for anyone, and especially a jobseeker to become depressed during this seemingly hopeless, stressful and indeed dangerous period, however it is more productive to stay calm and try alternative options and strategies. 

Here is a non-exhaustive list of suggestions you could consider. If you have more ideas kindly add them in the comments below and we will incorporate them.

1. (Temporary) Career change. You probably have transferable skills that you could use in healthcare, social work and teaching positions that are opening up during the pandemic, or any role which involves customer service – such as in e-commerce. If a necessary skill is missing, it may be possible to acquire it through online training. 

2. Temporary or part time work. Most recruiters are reluctant to commit to permanent and full time employment as they are uncertain about the future. 

3. Work from Home: Such as freelance writer, web developer, sales associate, marketeer, translator. 

4. Guidebook Author: Do you have deep knowledge of a particular destination? Why not write a guide? 

5. Hosting/Guiding: In many jurisdictions it is legal to offer short-term hosting and/or experiences to international and domestic tourists, on platforms such as Airbnb that are becoming popular thanks to physical distancing requirements. 

6. Volunteering: You will not get a salary but if correctly chosen, a voluntary position can greatly improve both your morale and your resume. Try to find a role that is somehow relevant to your specific career goals. There are always overseas volunteer opportunities in the field of sustainable development and community empowerment, but as 'charity begins at home' you may start from your local community. 

7. Learn a new language. In international tourism, the more languages the merrier. There are so many free or low cost online applications that you can use, to add another language to your CV. 

8. Train/Study: There are many online courses and degrees, academic and vocational that would complement your existing skills. Ideally choose quality, academically-recognised ones that are cheap and offer a certificate. 

9. Network Online: It may help you detect non-advertised opportunities and it may even turn into a career, if you have a talent for it, as an influencer or blogger. Join professional interest and industry groups online, such as Ecoclub, interact with your peers and colleagues, find a mentor. 

10. Improve your CV and Presentation skills. You must always use the best tools, in the case of job-seeking these are your CV, your cover letter, and your interview skills. These must be top-notch. You need to practice and practice again, to write and rewrite your CV and cover letter for each position. Becoming comfortable with remote hiring and working will improve your ability to get hired. Why not prepare a small video presentation about you? Virtual interviews need a lot of practice, so you could do a mock interview with a friend and record it so as to prevent future errors.

11. Last but not least, consider the option of partnering with other jobseekers and setting up a cooperative/collective/worker-owned tourism business when the coronavirus will just be an unpleasant memory, probably in two years' time as many analysts predict, or, hopefully, sooner.


12:.... (Your suggestion here)


Above all, persevere! Always remember that you are not alone. There are millions of tourism (and hospitality, and leisure) job seekers, former employees or self-employed and small business owners without work currently around the world. You, they, WE have the power to pressure governments so that they really support us during the pandemic!

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