6 Job Search Tips During a Pandemic
Our world has changed, but as my job search tips point out, there are many things that haven’t changed. For example, in the early stage of your job search you need to be alone with your thoughts – something you can do now, even in a pandemic. Before you start to interview, you need to learn about yourself, and thanks to social distancing, now you have that time and space.
Look at old emails and files – do research – and document your previous successes. You need to dig in to your “professional story” to uncover your what, where, how and why. Why was that project a success? What percentage of growth did you achieve? What amount of budget did you manage? How many employees were under your leadership? How did you increase sales? Document your past with numbers. And then think hard about your value proposition. What can you bring to the table? All of this information needs to be documented through your marketing tools – resume, LinkedIn profile and social media platforms – and it has to roll off your tongue succinctly when you are talking.
Here are key job search tips to move your career forward while social distancing.
1. Stay the Course
With all of the grim news, it’s natural to want to put the brakes on your search. And it’s true, while many companies have frozen hiring or laid off employees, others still need to hire and fill gaps. Companies are still hiring and pursuing workers. Maintaining momentum in your search will help you position yourself to compete for the roles available now. It also puts you ahead of the curve when hiring picks up.
2. Do your Industry Research
Identify which industries and companies are most viable right now and likely to rebound quickly following the crisis. Honing in on who’s hiring can help you surface opportunities faster, such as shipping and delivery companies, banking, online learning, essential retail, healthcare, remote meeting and communications.
3. Ask Others to Tell Their Story
Many professionals who are stuck at home may have fewer distractions (kids and pets notwithstanding) and be more accessible than when they were at the office. Make a list of contacts, and via email or LinkedIn, ask for a 20-minute informational phone or video chat (really an informational interview). Here’s a job search tip on how to approach this: “This pandemic is giving me a chance to connect with a lot of people I haven’t talked to in ages. And, I realize we haven’t caught up in a while. Kudos to you for (landing a new job last year / promotion / long success at XYZ company). I’m very interested in what it’s like to work in (XYX field or at NAME OF COMPANY). I can see you have had a lot of success, and I’d love to hear the story of how you got into this field and what it takes to accomplish what you’ve done.” Remember to come from a place of curiosity, rather than directly asking about job opportunities.
4. Ready, Set, Ask
Be prepared with open-ended questions not only about the company’s hiring plans and needs when conditions do improve, but also their short-term needs during the crisis. Also, ask for referrals to others in their network who might be very busy right now and in need of help within their industry. At the very least, you will have made a potential valuable contact that you can re-visit after the pandemic crisis subsides. Don’t forget that networking is a two-way street. Make sure to ask how you can help them too during these challenging times!
5. Get on Camera: Zoom, Skype, MS Teams
These are becoming the norm in the short-term and might include one-on-one, group and series interviews. If you have not spoken in front of the computer before, practice and get used to eye contact with the camera and lag time between your voice and video. If you’re not already a frequent user, dive in. Set up a video chat and practice with family or friends.
6. Improve Your Skills
Now’s the time to take advantage of a plethora of online learning opportunities; many organizations and schools are offering free resources or drastically reduced rates due to the pandemic. For example, one job seeker’s goal was to move from a sales career in telecommunications to the high-tech industry, but he lacked required credentials. He went online and became certified in a new technology. (Coursera is just one popular online learning site that began offering free courses during the Covid-19 outbreak.)
Yes, our world has changed. And change can create opportunity, so be sure to use your time wisely. Networking will optimize your chances, and leveraging the job search tips above will launch you into a new career faster. One thing we have in times of crisis is our shared humanity and our emotional need to connect with others and share stories. Now you have a universally relevant conversation starter: “So how are you and your family doing? How has your business been affected by all of this?”