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COVID + Credit: Five Strategies to Consider When Job Hunting During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Around 30 million Americans have experienced joblessness in some form since the start of the Coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic. As states reopen, some of these workers have been able to return to their employers, but many others have been left permanently out of work and now find themselves facing a highly competitive job market. With hiring down across many industries and an increased number of applicants applying for available positions, job hunting during the Covid-19 pandemic may require a more nuanced approach than normal.

If you find yourself on the job hunt during the Covid-19 pandemic, consider these five strategies:

1. Identify and narrow your search to the industries that are still hiring

While you're unlikely to find a new job in sectors heavily affected by pandemic-related closures — including travel, hospitality and live entertainment — certain industries are still looking for new employees. For example, if you're not in a high-risk demographic and feel safe entering a customer-facing position, you might consider jobs at grocery stores, delivery services or other essential businesses that have stayed open and busy throughout the pandemic.

LinkedIn maintains an updated list of companies that are still hiring, so check that resource to help narrow your search.

If you're not comfortable applying for customer-facing positions, many companies in the health care and tech industries are hiring to support additional demand during the pandemic. Consider companies such as Zoom, Slack and Microsoft that help businesses continue to work remotely. If you have an education background, you might consider a position with an online learning or tutoring company that would allow you to work with students who have been forced to take up remote schooling.

2. Strengthen your network and utilize social media during your job hunt

Don't rely entirely on online applications. Many jobs are filled via networking or referrals, so now is a great time to reach out to your connections, let them know you're looking for work and remind them about your experience and skill set.

If you feel your existing network is lacking, you might also use online platforms such as LinkedIn to request informational interviews with professionals you don't yet know. Informational interviews are typically short conversations with people who work at companies or in industries that interest you. These chats can help you learn more about a certain job or a company's culture. They can also help you build relationships in your target industry. Come prepared by doing some deep research on the industry, the company and any open positions that interest you. It's also wise to draft a handful of questions to get the conversation going, such as:

  • What are the day-to-day responsibilities of your position?
  • What is your favorite thing about your job?
  • What do you find challenging about the work you do?
  • How does your company differentiate itself from others in the same industry?
  • Is there anyone else you'd recommend I speak to?

Take notes during your meeting, because you'll probably want to use some of the information you've gleaned to enhance your job search.

Additionally, not every opening will be posted on a company's website or online job boards. Check the social media accounts (LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) of companies where you'd like to apply. You may find they are posting openings on those platforms that can't be found on other job-hunting sites.

3. Revamp your resume to include remote-friendly language

A huge number of employees at companies of every size continue to work remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic. Make sure your resume reflects the increased demand for digital skills. Mention any prior experience working remotely along with goals you were able to meet during that time. If you don't have specific experience working from home, it's okay to simply identify the elements of your work style that make you well-suited for remote employment. Highlight your ability to meet goals without direct supervision or your ability to pick up new skills quickly and efficiently. Working effectively while unsupervised is key to a successful remote work experience.

Also be sure to mention specific software you've used. Whether you've run meetings or webinars on Zoom or Microsoft Teams, managed data in Google Docs or Hubspot, or enhanced productivity using Slack, details about how you've embraced technology can convince employers that you can hit the ground running.

4. Be open-minded about your skill set

If your industry has been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, you might have to seek employment in a different sector. Although these jobs might not be the first that come to mind when you're looking for work, positions outside of your usual industry can provide a chance to learn new skills and expand your employability in the future.

Although the Covid-19 pandemic has no clear end date, it's important to keep in mind that today's state of the economy is temporary. A job you take to weather the current storm doesn't have to be a perfect fit for your five-year plan; it can still be a great learning opportunity until the economy eventually recovers and you can return to applying for positions within your preferred industry.

5. Be willing to develop new skills where possible or put existing skills to new uses

Now is a great time to focus on developing new skills to make you a more competitive applicant. For example, with workplaces drastically shifting from the traditional office environment, the demand for people with technological skills is higher than ever. Even if you've never been employed in a strictly technical field before, experience with computers and working remotely may give you a leg up on other applicants.

If you're transitioning from one industry to another, consider how the skills that helped you succeed in your previous positions might be applied to a new one. Using expertise you've acquired in a new way is called “reskilling”. Were you great at working with customers and resolving their complaints? Do you have organizational skills that could cross industries? Are you comfortable working on teams? If so, you can apply all of those experiences and capabilities to a new position.

If you do need to develop new skills, there are plenty of online resources to expand your capabilities, such as LinkedIn Learning, modules on Zoom and Skype, and resume-building companies like LiveCareer and Indeed. Learning even one or two new skills might open up a whole new job market for you.

The thought of job hunting right now may be intimidating, but it's not impossible. Even in non-pandemic times, searching for employment is largely a numbers game where persistence is key to finding new opportunities. Keep your head up and be willing to apply for a wide range of jobs that fit your skill set, even if they fall outside the parameters you'd usually consider. You can always return to the job market in more stable times, potentially with new skills and a clearer understanding of the direction your career is headed.

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