Five Keys to Success for a Job Search During a Pandemic
These tips will help you as you conduct your job search:
Focus on Your Strengths
Companies hire employees who can solve problems for them. Salespeople create revenue. Accountants ensure compliance with regulations and provide financial data that can be used for decision-making. Customer service staff help answer questions, keeping customers happy. Beyond what you do for a company, what is the impact that you have on the organization?
It’s even more important to highlight accomplishments on your résumé, LinkedIn profile, and career documents in a competitive job market.
Shift your skills, if necessary, to a new field. Assess your work history and identify older skills and/or experience you can leverage. Seek out opportunities for additional training and learning.
Be Clear on What You Need
The more specific you can be about the opportunity that you’re seeking, the more likely you will find it. Take some time to define what you’re looking for in your next job. Are you looking for a position that allows you to work remotely? Do you have a specific schedule you need — for example, because your children are engaging in remote schooling? Having a list of criteria like this can help you identify whether a position will be a good fit — or not.
Look For Companies That are Hiring or In Need
Be aware of which industries are holding steady or growing during the pandemic, and which ones are struggling. Focus on essential companies that are not affected by government shutdowns. Create a target list of companies. Researching your prospective employer is even more critical — be aware of changes affecting the company due to the pandemic. Set up Google Alerts to get informed about news affecting your ideal employers. Follow your target companies on LinkedIn. Subscribe to the company’s emails, blogs, and social media channels.
Nurture Your Network
Networking is even more important for a job search during times of high unemployment. Meeting face-to-face or for coffee may not be an option right now, but you can connect virtually. Stay in touch through social media, phone calls, Zoom or FaceTime, email, text, and LinkedIn messages.
Adapt to the New Needs of the Job Search
Prepare for an online job interview. Set up a specific space for the interview. Make sure it’s someplace quiet with no distractions. Conduct a practice session with a friend on Zoom. When it’s time for the actual interview, dress like you’re going to an in-person interview (head to toe!).
Don’t be surprised if you don’t hear back from the interviewer right away. Be patient. The hiring process will likely take even longer than normal. That’s true even if the company initially seemed in a hurry to hire. Do follow up, but don’t be a pest. Ask how the person is doing, and if there’s anything they need from you to move the process along.
If you do have a job offer that is put on hold, consider asking if you could work in a contract or a temporary role in the meantime. For example, one national furniture rental company is currently in a hiring freeze, but they are staffing with contract/temporary workers in the meantime.
One advantage of job searching during a pandemic is that it may be easier to interview because remote interviews can be done at any time. You don’t have to drive somewhere and wait in an office for the interviewer. You can have your notes in front of you that you can reference easily. And, if the interview is by phone (and not by Zoom or Skype), you don’t have to dress up or worry that you’re making sufficient eye contact with the interviewer.
Companies that are hiring are pivoting to meet job seekers where they are. Most job fairs have gone online, allowing you to participate remotely. Some companies are doing Zoom “meet and greet,” allowing prospective employees to interact with company representatives virtually.
Should you be searching for a new job now? If you’re in an industry affected by the pandemic, the answer is likely yes. If you’re in an industry that is currently in a hiring freeze, lay the groundwork so you’re prepared to make a change once the pandemic ends.
Even if you’re not interested in changing jobs right now, create a plan for the future. Some things about the job search — for example, virtual job interviews — are likely to stick around long after COVID-19 is gone.