Job Search During COVID-19: 5 Tips to Follow
In March 2020, an invisible enemy, the Coronavirus brought the world to its knees and businesses to a screeching halt. In the USA, within 5 weeks of the pandemic spreading, 26.4 million claimed to be unemployed, Economists foresee the worst recession taking shape, after the “Great Depression”.
Companies had to shift to work from home overnight to combat the COVID-19 pandemic by social distancing. Even with the lockdowns easing globally, the employees are not going to go back to their workspaces any time soon. This shift has led to widespread layoffs. The dynamics of job searching have changed completely.
Amid this chaos and uncertainty, job seekers and employees are constantly wondering:
- Should I pause or continue with the job?
- Will my continuous follow-ups bother the recruiters?
- Have all companies frozen their hiring?
- Should I change the way I go about online job searching?
Business is not as usual. Job postings have disappeared overnight from LinkedIn and other hiring portals. Although hiring has slowed down or completely stopped in certain sectors, recruiters are still looking for candidates for many businesses. Talent who is adaptive, resilient, and are problem-solvers.
As fewer hiring means increased competition, with a stellar resume you can stand out in your industry. Not just that, companies are hiring contractors and filling freelance positions more than ever. By being strategic and intentional, you can leverage your expertise to enhance your professional journey. On a positive note, hiring during a crisis requires the talent to onboard quicker as the hiring cycle gets shorter.
We may not be in a position to know when the job market would stabilize. What you can choose to do instead is gain the skillset that recruiters look for.
Follow these 5 tips while conducting an online job search during these uncertain times to move forward in your career with confidence:
#1. Network online – The lockdown presents you with a golden opportunity to build authentic connections with new people and revisit the existing ones. This way, you are in a favorable position to find out about new job roles. Here are the 3 actionable ways you can network remotely.
- Thoroughly update your LinkedIn profile – Make the most of LinkedIn by sprucing up your profile. Ask for recommendations from your previous employers. Follow groups in your industry where jobs are being posted and relevant hashtags to get notified about an opening. Comment on the posts by peers, leaders, and trendsetters in your industry. Follow company pages so that you get updated about their status. The point here is to be visible because 90% of recruiters use LinkedIn to search for potential hires. Make sure that they can spot you. Your LinkedIn profile should have a high-quality headshot, a headline summarizing your skill sets, and work experience.
- Approaching new connections – Think about the kind of contacts you would want to add to your network, both inside and outside your field. A broad and knowledgeable network goes a long way. Prepare a list of 30 people you admire or are recruiters in your industry. Over the next month, send a connection request daily. Personalize your outreach by adding a note about your intention for connecting.
- Connect with your network over a quick 15-30-minute call. As commute time is eliminated because of remote work, the contacts may be eager to talk to you. We, as human beings, yearn for social connection. Don’t miss out on the opportunity of connecting with peers for a call, with recruiters to know what they look for in a candidate and your existing network to let them know about the kind of job you would want to take up.
#2. Be open to freelance gigs – COVID-19 is redefining the already prevalent gig economy. With companies not knowing what the future holds for them, they are preferring to hire freelancers and contract workforce. This way, they are not held by long-term employment contracts. At the same time, they get to work with talent that is not restricted by geographic locations.
The other benefit of hiring freelancers is that businesses save on the overheads of accommodating the team members.
If you are searching for a job during Coronavirus, don’t limit your employment to full-time opportunities. Look around for part-time, freelance, and consultant gigs that enable you to work with multiple clients, opening horizons in global markets. Numerous studies show that the remote working workforce is more productive and has a better work-life balance as compared to those who work from their offices. Global exposure in a job is indeed an add-on that your potential employers would consider an advantage.
If you are a writer, developer, or graphic designer, you could enroll and look for clients in portals such as Freelancer, Fiverr, 99designs, PeoplePerHour, and Upwork.
If you are a freelance developer, consider creating a portfolio on GitHub and getting in touch with clients there.
Alternately, you could research on Google about the companies looking to add freelancers to their teams.
#3. Stay in touch with hiring managers – Before the pandemic, that job where you gave a promising interview seemed to be starting soon. The company has now moved to remote operations and you haven’t heard back from the recruiter. The reason is that companies are still scrambling to figure out what the Coronavirus means for their business. Be patient and do not interpret the delay in response as a lack of interest.
Reach out to the recruiting manager over the email to acknowledge the situation and check if they need anything more from your end. Let them respond at their pace since they might be struggling to get used to the new normal.
To continue the conversation, reach out asking if you can help them in any way. You can also give them a preview in the same email about the value you would add to the team if allowed to work there. Learn how to manage and work with remote project teams.
#4. Upskill with complementary courses – The financial impact of the pandemic will manifest in the form of companies looking to hire people with multiple skills. For example, they might look to hire a digital marketer who also knows social media marketing, copywriting for the brochures, creating social media posts, and being the team manager.
So, if you are searching for content writing jobs, you could take up synergistic courses on social media advertising, Google AdWords, conversion optimization, and become a T-shaped marketer.
There are numerous courses online that can help you develop complementary skills. If you are applying for the position of a developer, having undertaken a course in project management will gain the attention of the hiring manager as you can multitask.
#5. Nail your video interview – As social distancing is becoming the norm virtual interviews are here to stay. Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google have joined the bandwagon along with thousands of other companies announcing they will be conducting virtual interviews for the next few months. The process of hiring through video interviews as well as employee onboarding will require some patience since the employers were traditionally not completely done remotely. Expect a delay as new logistics are involved.
When the employers are ready to fill the positions to ensure that you are prepared for the virtual interview. Dress up as if you were physically going to give the interview. Be mindful of your tone and sound enthusiastic.
Set the following in place:
- Find a corner in the house that is well-lit and distraction-free
- For a phone interview, keep in hand a cheat-sheet listing out the key pointers of the conversation
- For a video interview, ask in advance the video conferencing tool that the company uses. Get familiarized with its working. Ask the hiring manager about the people who would be interviewing you. Research a bit about them and their qualifications. Be prepared to answer the questions you anticipate being asked. Also, list down the questions you would want to ask the interviewer
As time passes, we will get better clarity on the impact of the virus on the global economy. In the meanwhile, don’t stop your job search. In a country with so many entrepreneurs and problems to be solved, this too shall pass. For those who persevere and are tenacious, employment opportunities will unfold.