The year 2020 hasn’t been very kind to most people. With the coronavirus pandemic having spread like wildfire, not only have we seen an irreplaceable loss of life but have also experienced an unprecedented economic downturn. Millions of people have lost their jobs as companies are unable to sustain without cutting costs.
Finding a job in a situation like this may seem like a distant dream. But you can’t just sit and wait for this crisis to pass before you start again. For all we know, it might take a while for things to get back to normal. So, why not use your time to build an effective strategy for a job search that even a pandemic can’t hold back?
Let us help you with a few exclusive tips for finding a job during a pandemic. Rising above the competition becomes all the more critical when job hunting amid a global crisis like this. These tips will help you build a compelling profile and take the right steps to ensure you get noticed by prospective employers.
1. Research companies that are in an active hiring mode
With the current economic scenario, there are not too many companies looking to hire new people. So, waiting for the right job opening isn’t going to work at a time like this. You’ve got to proactively research online to find out which companies are hiring.
Although the job scene is quite grim, some companies need more people. Companies offering essential services (such as food delivery, logistics, medical staffing, pharmaceuticals or SaaS companies offering remote working tools, to name a few) are on the lookout for new employees. There are also companies looking for remote workers, such as online tutors, IT professionals, and so on.
Conduct a Google search for ‘companies hiring remote workers during COVID-19’ and variations of this search phrase. You will find numerous resources listing companies with a high volume of remote jobs. Visit the websites of those companies for advertised jobs. Try to apply to as many relevant jobs as possible.
You can look for real-time lists of employers that are hiring on various job boards, including our very own CareerAddict Jobs. Then search for other companies in the same business and make a target list of your own. This hidden job market can have a lot of potential for you.
Searching for a job in a grim economy can be laden with anxiety. Being gainfully employed may take precedence over factors such as a potential employers’ values and priorities, employee satisfaction reviews, and links with the community. However, you not only want to fit into the role but also the organisation. So, even as you assess the skills the company requires, also reflect on the personal qualities they seek and whether you can see yourself working happily for the company.
2. Improve your CV and online profiles
During a crisis like this, every job opening is going to be flooded with applications. How do you make your CV stand out? How do you convince a recruiter looking at your online profile that you are better than the hundreds of other applicants?
The very first step in finding a job is to create a brand for yourself. Your brand image here is what your CV and your LinkedIn profile or other online profiles reflect.
Create a CV to dash through the modern applicant tracking system
Most companies today have an applicant tracking system (or ATS, for short) that sorts the CVs and screens them based on keywords relevant to the job. Ensure that the job title you use in your CV and the skills you include match the ones in the job description.
Rewrite your CV for every individual job opening, picking up keywords from the job’s expected responsibilities and skills sections. Keep it subtle and sprinkle the keywords judiciously throughout the document.
Write a ‘get hired’ cover letter and a strong professional summary
Write a short, impactful summary, including only necessary and relevant information. Avoid general statements like ‘Seeking for a job in the IT industry’ or ‘Looking for a challenging role that helps me grow’. Briefly mention the different roles you’ve handled in the past and the skills you’ve learned.
Start with a strong adjective to define your role as a professional, such as ‘Creative writer’ or ‘Qualified graphic designer’. Then go on to tell where you’ve worked in the past and what skills you’ve acquired along the way, say ‘...with seven years of experience in website and logo design, working with Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop…’, and so on.
3. Focus on your soft and transferrable skills
During this economic crisis, it may be challenging to find a job in your field or industry. You’ve got to be flexible enough to switch industries or work in a role outside of your niche. Your soft and transferrable skills are going to be more critical than industry-specific technical skills.
Strong communicators, flexible thinkers and other oriented workers are better able to adjust to change. In unprecedented times like the one we’re in, how well you can adjust to the challenges of working remotely and managing teams working from home matters immensely.
Highlight traits that make you an invaluable leader or team member during uncertain times. You can be empathetic to struggling employees and get them to meet performance expectations. You can be a top individual contributor and keep energy levels high by managing your time efficiently.
The pandemic has exposed the weaknesses of world leaders. Even companies are discovering employees with key responsibilities who may actually be ill-suited to their role. As the need for a better role or culture fit becomes clear, companies will feel motivated to rethink their hiring decisions. It represents an opportunity for you to impress potential employers with transferrable skills that benefit the company.
For example, if you’re in the event management industry, you could highlight your organisational, problem-solving and multitasking abilities to a job in a different role or industry that values these skills. Work in retail? Your experience with computer programs, your mathematical aptitude and your customer service skills are easily transferrable to another industry.
Where possible, quantify transferrable skills on your CV to build a case around how you might apply them to real-world situations with a potential employer.
4. Equip yourself with on-demand skills
The coronavirus pandemic is widely expected to create a long-term hybrid model of working. Certain hard and soft skills can be expected to gain further importance to support remote work and new business models.
It helps to know what those in-demand skills are, especially if you work in a fast-paced industry like IT. For example, tech companies are hiring engineers who have experience maintaining cloud infrastructure. Building or advancing your knowledge of AWS, Google Cloud Engine and Microsoft Azure can increase your competitive edge.
You should have no problem gaining certifications and updating your knowledge online. Websites like Coursera, Udemy and EdX offer learning opportunities covering various topics and disciplines. Employers’ growing acceptance of massive open online courses (MOOCs) is expected to pick up as the pandemic magnifies the need for remote learning.
If you work in a severely affected industry that may take years to recover, reskilling is a practical choice. The move will be tough but it will help you tide the crisis over and beyond. Don’t make a radical shift – do a job that you can see yourself doing and which can benefit, at least to some extent, from your existing skills. Be realistic about your job prospects. You may need to work in a low-paying position or even start off as an intern.
Talk to your contacts in the industries you’re exploring. Know what you’re in for before you make the leap.
5. Optimise your LinkedIn profile
Your online presence is just as important as your CV. According to a SHRM survey, 77% of its members use social media for employee recruitment. Smart companies cast a broad net to harness social media as part of their recruitment strategy. Also, companies that are hiring search for suitable candidates on LinkedIn, and your chances of getting a call depend on whether your profile appears in the right searches.
Optimise your LinkedIn profile by adding relevant keywords for the job you wish to land. Update your experience, skills and ‘About’ section with these keywords. Use an appropriate, professional-looking photo for your profile, as this can also make an impact on a visitor once you start appearing in search results.
Since most companies are currently working remotely, they would likely be looking for people who can fit into their remote working culture. Facebook, Google and other companies have extended remote work schedules into 2021 as a result of the pandemic. Your online profile should reflect any remote working experience you have. Include your proficiency in remote working tools that you’ve used in the past. This information can boost your chances of landing a job during this pandemic.
6. Be open to online networking
As gathering at events and meetings in person are going to be rare during a pandemic, you’ve got to increase your networking activities online. According to LinkedIn’s ‘The Ultimate List of Hiring Statistics’ report (PDF), the number one way people discover a new job is through referrals. This means your networking game will have to be top-notch.
The best place to network with professionals is undoubtedly LinkedIn. But there are professional groups on Facebook, as well, which can be helpful. Join groups that are relevant to your field, engage in conversation by commenting and posting in these groups to make yourself visible, and try to showcase your knowledge and interest in the industry through your discussions.
If you have friends or acquaintances in a company you wish to work for, connect with them and try to gather information on what their current hiring policies are.
7. Ask for an informational interview
Conducting informational interviews can be an excellent way to network while gaining insights into a company as well. Since you can’t meet an acquaintance in person due to the social distancing norms, a short video chat could be good enough.
Although an informational interview is more of a research tool, through which you ask questions relevant to your job search, it can also be a great way to build rapport. Seeing and talking to a person, even if done virtually, will have more of an impact on them than chatting through emails or messages. You will be remembered longer, increasing your chances of getting a referral.
Make sure to ask relevant and engaging questions that show your interest and leave a good impression.
8. Connect with recruiters
Connect with talent acquisition professionals or recruiters over LinkedIn and try to engage in conversation. You can comment on their posts, answer their questions or ask engaging questions of your own. Ensure that your conversations reflect your soft skills, such as communication, proactiveness and awareness.
In some time, let them know that you’re applying for a position at their company and would like to discuss it further. Also, show interest in and enquire about any other openings that could fit your background. Keep your tone very cordial and professional.
You can also connect with employers and their talent acquisition teams through social media. Follow their posts and comment on them if you have anything that adds value. Most companies are active on social media today, and you might just hear back from them.
Consider these encounters as opportunities to demonstrate your soft skills, as a face-to-face meeting isn’t possible right now, what with everyone working from home.
The coronavirus pandemic is still a long way from being over, and it has indeed changed the way many companies work for good. As a job seeker, you have to adapt to these changes and prepare yourself to deliver what it needs.
Job hunting is challenging and often quite tiring, but with a little planning and some perseverance, you can still land your dream job very soon. Till then, be positive and keep working on yourself.