Have you put your job search on hold due to the dire health and economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic? Has the news of massive layoffs, furloughs and staggeringly high unemployment numbers left you feeling like no one is hiring for the foreseeable future? While the current employment situation may seem daunting, many job experts are advising job seekers to stay the course and keep their job search going.
The Tri-Valley Career Center is engaged in ongoing research to uncover information about industries and companies who are still hiring and expert advice on how to approach your job search during these challenging times. Here is some of information and advice that we have recently discovered:
Networking is more important than ever. While the coronavirus pandemic can make the job of finding a job more challenging, Gary Burnison, CEO of hiring and recruiting firm Korn Ferry, points out that this could be the perfect time to expand your network (Don’t overlook this No. 1 factor when looking for a job during Covid-19, says hiring exec of 20 years). Burnison says the work-from-home experience has created a captive audience for networking. Rather than traveling for business or going to conferences, many people are working from home, which means they are more likely to be available and pay attention when you reach out (via a simple email or call).
Burnison says that best strategy for effective networking is to “lead with your ‘give’ before you seek to ‘get’ something.” If you have a person in your network who could help with your job search, first make a list of things you can do for them. Even a minor gesture can jump-start your networking if the act is genuinely meaningful to them. For example, look at their Twitter, Facebook, blog or website to see if they or their company is supporting charitable causes you can help with (i.e., making face masks for frontline workers, donating food to homeless shelters). In these turbulent times, offering an extra set of hands is a great way to lead with your “give” and open the door to asking for help in return.
Even as some economists are predicting a recession, journalist Lisa Rabasca Roepe, who writes about the culture of work, encourages job seekers to keep networking and applying for jobs (What Does the Coronavirus Pandemic Mean for Your Job Search?), and offers some tips to help you navigate the process during the pandemic and the accompanying economic slowdown.
Sharpen Your Online Networking Skills. Join groups on Facebook and LinkedIn; both platforms offer a wide range of options with groups for every profession. Make yourself visible in groups by participating in conversations, posting relevant articles, and commenting. Also, prepare yourself for virtual informational interviews or networking chats by practicing with a friend. Once you have mastered the technology, invite contacts to meet for a virtual coffee.
Stay in Touch. Follow up on interviews by email but acknowledge that you understand the hiring process could be delayed due to the current challenging environment. Also, find other ways to stay top of mind in addition to email, such as connecting with the hiring manager on LinkedIn.
Gather Company Information. The COVID-19 crisis can provide a unique glimpse into a company culture. Take note of how leadership deals with this emergency and treats its employees by following companies you are interested in on social media and watching for any media coverage.
Use the Time to Reflect. Take advantage of the slowing job market by getting clarity about where you want to work and the type of role you’re seeking. Create a list of your target industry, companies, job titles and anything in particular you’re looking for. Be prepared to think about your role more broadly and possibly pivot to an adjacent position that would also make use of your experience and skills.
Boost Your Skills. Now is the perfect time to work on bolstering your qualifications. Determine what you need to brush up on to make yourself an even better candidate for the position you’re seeking when the job market picks up again. There are many free online courses including MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), EdX classes (featuring free courses from MIT and Harvard), and free Microsoft training and tutorials. Find more sites that offer online courses here. If you’re not sure where to start, check out these classes for digital marketing, coding, and data science.
Jeff Berger, founder and CEO of Talent Inc., advises job seekers who might be overwhelmed by the current crisis to consider focusing on short-term solutions to get through this challenging time (How you can find a job during the COVID-19 crisis). He suggests that you ask what you can do during the next 30, 60, and 90 days to better manage your own outcome, and offers the following tip to explore your short-term options:
- Inventory your top skills and search for opportunities where you can apply those skills in a different capacity. For example, are you an event planner who could help a hospital coordinate its temporary expansion? Think about what you have been doing and how it could fit with current job openings.
- Look for telecommuting job opportunities where the location is irrelevant and in-person contact is unnecessary.
- Consider the sectors that are ramping up their hiring to meet current demands. Blue Apron, Amazon, Trader Joe’s, Zoom and many other national brands are looking to fill positions throughout the country. This is a great way to secure an interim job until the economy recovers.
- Contact local businesses that may require additional assistance but may be too busy to post jobs. Maybe they are seeking another manager to onboard their new employees, someone to create or enhance their website to handle their online orders or someone to stock shelves or package goods for shipping.
Use this time to explore jobs you may not have considered in the past, and perhaps you’ll find opportunities you wouldn’t have necessarily pursued otherwise.
Fortune magazine writer Sarah Fielding (How to job hunt during the coronavirus pandemic) says the name of the game in this time of pandemic is patience. Fielding points out that many companies are still trying to figure out what the coronavirus means for their business. While some companies may have hiring freezes, many are still interviewing for open positions—they just may not be moving as fast as originally planned. As frustrating as it is to wait for an answer regarding a job, things are most likely not moving at a normal pace, so try not to interpret delayed responses as lack of interest.
It can be challenging to stay positive and motivated when the economy and the job market are in turmoil, but if you can keep your job search going, you are laying the groundwork so that as the economy recovers, more doors of opportunity may open up for you.