The coronavirus has had a significant impact on the global economy and job market, and in order to stand out during a job search, new graduates looking to enter the market or workers looking to reassess their career options will have to be strategic, focused and nimble in their approach to obtaining contingent work or full-time employment.
In the fastest and deepest economic slowdown recorded in the United States, more than 40 million Americans have lost their jobs since the coronavirus swept across the country. Across the border, Canada’s unemployment rate has hit a record high of 13.7 per cent as of early June.
It’s a daunting and, if not, frightening fact for any recently unemployed professional, let alone a recent graduate applying for their first professional job – a stressful time under any circumstance.
As unemployment applications in North America continue to rise into the millions, those looking to break into this uncertain job market or break away from the competition must recognize that pre-pandemic job search methods will have to be revised in order to achieve results in the new normal.
These tips below will help job seekers capitalize on opportunities and market their candidacy to potential employers.
Update your resume
For many workers, it’s their first time being out of work in a long time and refreshing a resume for a job search may not have been on the top of the priority list. However, a resume's formatting, content expectations and standard practices have changed over the years, and it’s important that a resume evolves with the times. Before sending your application, update your formatting and content along with your work history.
Focus your job search on growth industries and specializations during the coronavirus pandemic
While certain industries like travel, casino and gaming, leisure facilities, auto parts and equipment and oil & gas drilling are the most affected by the pandemic, other sectors like healthcare, finance, retail (giants) and insurance are experiencing an influx in hiring in order to keep up with demands. These types of fluctuations should continue to be expected.
Companies whose services include delivery, video streaming, gaming, online dating, home exercise equipment and many others are also experiencing an influx in hiring.
Prioritize your job applications
In order to avoid application fatigue, prioritize jobs that have been posted most recently - that's a sign that the company has a current need to fill a job role. If a posting has been up for weeks, it may be less of a priority to the organization or the job may have been impacted by the coronavirus.
Set your expectations: Be prepared to work remote
Out of the 34 per cent of workers who are now estimated to be working from home in the United States, not many are expected to go back into the office. Research firm Gartner finds 74 per cent of organizations plan to shift some full-time employees to remote work on a permanent basis.
Furthermore, Global Workplace Analytics estimates that 30 per cent of the entire workforce will work remote at least a couple times a week post coronavirus. Before the pandemic, that number was significantly lower - in the single digits. Be prepared to work from home.
… And learn all you can about how working remote works
In these unprecedented times, all levels of workers are remote – from entry level positions to senior professionals, yet not everyone is an expert in working from home.
Do you know what the best platforms are for remote collaboration? Do you have any secret system productivity hacks? Can you set up or configure tricky tech? What are the advantages and disadvantages of the different platforms like Teams or Slack that workers use to communicate?
Job seekers who can differentiate themselves by being knowledgeable about a specific aspect of working remote can add value from day one.
Get familiar with video conferencing platforms
Technology has made communicating and collaborating with others easy – if candidates are familiar with the tools. During a job search, it’s important to become familiar with video conferencing platforms like Zoom, Google Hangouts or Skype, as organizations have shifted in-person interviews to video interviews.
Be prepared to be flexible
The rise of the contingent workforce has taken on a different meaning as a whole new slew of drivers are forcing employers to augment traditional employment models with a more flexible workforce – and job seekers need to be prepared for job postings featuring contingent or contract work rather than full-time employment. In fact, further research from Gartner finds 32 per cent of organizations plan to replace full-time employees with contingent workers as a cost saving measure.
Get comfortable networking online
Networking events, career fairs and other large professional gatherings will be cancelled for the next foreseeable future, so job seekers must identify new networking opportunities, such as virtual conferences, LinkedIn Groups and video conferences.
Facebook and LinkedIn offer a wide range of professional groups across all industry sectors that job seekers can access. During your job search, look for and join groups related to the industry or industries you're hoping to work in and then join conversations by posting relevant articles and commenting on content. The goal is to make yourself visible while adding value to the conversation.
Studies show that 70-80 per cent of jobs never get posted online and are, in fact, filled directly through referrals. Networking is critical to any successful job search, and it doesn't have to stop because of coronavirus.
Update your LinkedIn profile
LinkedIn is the world’s largest online professional networking platform, and just as job seekers use it as a tool to connect and find opportunities during their job search, recruiters and hiring teams are also searching for qualified candidates.
Depending on how far candidates get in the interview process, recruiters and hiring teams will also use candidates' LinkedIn profile to verify work history and experience against resumes and interview discussions.
Turn informational interviews into virtual coffee breaks
During a job search, competitive candidates will often take advantage of informational interviews with professionals in industries they want to work in. Along with applying to jobs with online applications, try sending an email or LinkedIn DM to a professional hero and invite him or her on a virtual coffee break. If granted, have a list of questions and discussion points ready. If it goes well, he or she may know of an open opportunity, or keep you in mind for future ones.
You may even have a better chance of securing these meetings during the coronavirus pandemic as everyone is at home.
Use Google Alerts
During a job search, it’s important to keep up with company news at the organization you’re interviewing with or want to interview with.
Google Alerts is a great tool that will email you anytime a new story appears for a specific term you’ve entered – like a company name. Using Google Alerts means you can keep up on to date with events or news that can be used as great discussion points during your video interview. Simply go to www.google.com/alerts to set yours.
Work with a recruiter
Developing a relationship with a staffing agency is a strategic approach to any job search. If you’ve applied to a job opportunity online, follow up with the recruiter within 24 hours of submitting your application. Even if the job goes to another candidate, your resume will be on file.
Once a recruiter has your resume on file, he or she will contact you when an opportunity that matches your skills and experience is identified.
Recruiters will also be well-informed about the state of the workforce and job market during the coronavirus pandemic and will able to help guide you in your search for full-time employment or contingent work.
Build and manage your online brand
Now, more than ever, recruiters and hiring teams are considering candidates’ online presence in order to get a better understanding of who they are offline, and job seekers want to ensure a professional first (virtual) impression.
However, managing your online brand during a job search should extend beyond scrubbing your social media profiles for anything a recruiter or hiring manager would find inappropriate.
How can you impress your online audience?
Perhaps you had a virtual coffee break with a senior professional in an industry you’re looking to work in and they shared insights on how it’s being impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Repurposing that discussion into a thoughtful blog post or a series of updates is a strategic way to differentiate yourself and leverage your connections – with their permission.
Upskill or reskill
The learning landscape has evolved in ways that will foster the acquisition of knowledge and skills wherever an individual works or resides, making now the ideal time to bolster qualifications.
If you’re unsure of what skills you need to acquire, analyze job postings by listing each required skill and level of experience. Do you actively use that skill or is it one you have but haven’t used in a few years? Is there a skill or level of experience listed that you aren’t even aware of? Use this insight to determine whether there are resources available to build your candidacy.
For example, if you’re applying for a social media or marketing position, the job will likely require experience with Google Analytics, HubSpot or Hootsuite. Becoming certified in all or any of these platforms would differentiate your resume.
Proactively gaining new knowledge during the coronavirus pandemic will demonstrate productivity and help to push your candidacy forward when a recruiter or hiring manager inquires how you spent your time.
A job search can seem uncertain even in the most normal of times – yet these aren’t normal times and with so much uncertainty in the world right now, a job search during can feel overwhelming. Yet there are jobs and companies are hiring.
Are you working with a staffing agency to help your job search during the coronavirus pandemic?