How to Look for a Job During a Pandemic

Even in thriving economic times, a job search can be daunting and tedious. The existence of COVID-19 hasn’t made the job search any easier. As more companies hold off on hiring and others scale down their human resource, how do you adapt your job search to overcome today’s challenges?

It’s not all doom and gloom! With a change of tactics and a good dose of patience, your job search can still yield results.

This post will give you timeless tips you can leverage to up-level your job search during uncertain and tumultuous times.

Tips for Job Searching in the Face of Uncertainty

The traditional techniques of looking for a job can still be potent and are relevant even today. However, these are times like we’ve never experienced before, and they call for new job search tactics.

1. Personal Branding

It’s becoming increasingly important to create a personal brand if you want to stand out in today’s job market. Fortunately, the existence of social media means you can curate and show your expertise to the people who matter. The goal of creating a brand is to showcase your skills and proficiency to potential employers.

The first place to start is on LinkedIn. It’s where professionals and recruiters hang out. Don’t believe me?

According to this Annual Social Recruiting Survey by Jobvite, LinkedIn had 55 million companies with 14 million jobs listed on the site by 2016! The same survey also showed that 87% of recruiters use LinkedIn as their regular recruitment ground!

Now the question is, how do you optimize your brand on LinkedIn?

For starters, optimize your job title. There’s a difference between a “copywriter” and a “direct-response, conversion-focused copywriter.” One communicates the expertise and knowledge better while the other is a little vague and too broad.

Optimizing your brand helps you communicate your expertise and demonstrate why you are a great candidate for a position. The goal is to capture what you’re good at and how that will contribute to accomplishing the mission and vision of your target company.

2. Change How You Network

Ever heard of the statement that your network is your net worth? This is especially true in the job search. Picture this; research shows that only about 30% of jobs are published on public job boards and sites. That means that approximately 70% of all jobs are listed on internal job boards.

Essentially, it shows that most jobs are filled through word of mouth when active employees alert their networks of open positions. Surveys estimate that more than 80% of all jobs are filled through networking!

But beyond helping you secure a job or find open positions that might not be in the public domain yet, networking enables you to learn more about your field and the companies in that field.

With the pandemic, it’s clear that face-to-face networking is no longer as effective. Still, that doesn’t mean that networking is entirely out. On the contrary, it’s more important today than ever before. Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs, which means more people are looking for employment.

Having a solid network puts you at the forefront of that pool when positions open up. The question is, how do you network when social distancing, less movement, and scaled-down social gatherings are the new normal? You network online!

LinkedIn is an excellent platform to network. Follow people in your industry, join groups and forums, be among the active participants, and offer helpful advice. Write industry-related articles and share them regularly. Eventually, you get noticed by other job seekers, industry professionals, and recruiters alike.

Fortunately, LinkedIn also allows you to follow company’s where you’d like to work and keep tabs on their open positions. However, depending on your field and the jobs you’re interested in, Facebook and Instagram are also effective job search avenues.

3. Practice to Interview Virtually

I know it sounds easy, but if the work from home zoom bloopers is anything to go by, you might want to prepare with a few dry runs before hopping onto an interview call. Remember the Texas attorney that showed up in virtual court as a kitten? Despite his frantic efforts, the lawyer, Rod Ponton, couldn’t figure out how to turn the cat filter off!

Then there are the tens of calls and live TV when a loved one has appeared in the background in a horrifying state of undress. And to top it off, the instances of kids walking into the frame and disrupting your train of thought during a live call or TV interview.

To a recruiter, these kinds of mishaps could communicate the wrong message and be the reason you lose that job.

If your job search is strategic, you’ll certainly land a job interview. With the pandemic, there’s a high chance that the job interview will be virtual when you do.

Brushing up on your video interview skills will not only boost your confidence during the interview, but it’ll also ensure you don’t get on the list of bloopers we’ve seen lately. Before getting on that interview video call, check out your background, figure out where to look or sit and how to light yourself to look presentable.

4. Cast a Smaller Net

When you’re unemployed or have been jobless for a while, it’s tempting to cast your net wider as desperation kicks in. Sometimes it looks like a good idea to apply to and accept any job opportunity that comes your way. However, if this is your approach, the chances are that you might make the wrong career move in the process.

If you’re not picky about chances are you’re wasting time applying to every open position. Besides, with the competition out there today, it’s better if you narrow down your search to jobs and companies you are really interested in.

Instead of spending more time than necessary applying to multiple jobs, the best strategy would be to spend that time optimizing your resume and cover letter for your dream job. That way, you have a better chance of landing an interview for the few jobs you apply for.

Focus your search on jobs and roles that match your skills, experience, and interest best, as these have a higher chance of yielding results. Showcase your skills and expertise and how they’ll contribute to your success if you get the job.

5. Gather Information

There’s never a better time to evaluate the company’s you want to work for than during a crisis. COVID-19 has done more harm than good, and we can’t wait for it to be gone! However, it has also presented an opportunity for you as a job seeker to gather intel on company’s you’ve been eyeing.

How are they treating their employees during this time of crisis? Check whether they are getting any media coverage. Are they allowing employees to work remotely? Did they let some staff go? How are they supporting workers and enabling them to deliver while working from home?

You can also set up Google alerts to get news about your industry and the company’s where you would like to work. Keeping a tab on these companies doesn’t only enable you to choose the best to work for. You also learn more about them, so you can demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of the company if you get an interview.

6. Reflect Before Taking Action

Often, job seekers leap into the job search without fully reflecting on what they want to do during their search. The current slow job market presents the perfect opportunity to think through where you want to work, what role, or what title you want to hold.

To gain clarity on the direction you want your career to take and how to get there, list the following:

  • You target industry
  • Companies you would want to work for
  • Job titles that interest you
  • Roles you are qualified for
  • Any other particular you’re looking for in a job

When your list is complete and refined, start looking for jobs that meet most of your requirements. However, it’s essential to understand that most jobs won’t meet all those requirements. Pick the ones that meet most and apply.

If there are no open positions that meet your criteria, even partially, shift your focus to companies on your list. Remember how I mentioned that most companies don’t advertise vacant posts publicly? Rather than wait for jobs listed on public job boards, find out who to contact in the companies you want to work to express your interest in working for them.

This goes back to networking. There might not be an open position, but reaching out before there’s one puts you on the forefront of the recruitment list should a position you qualify for fall vacant.

As you look for a job during the pandemic, don’t be rigid and focused on a specific position, title, or role. Given your skills and experience, you might need to pivot to an adjacent position. If you’re a marketer, a company might want to hire you for a communications position instead, as they may have a reduced marketing budget.

Play the long game! Eventually, when things pick up, the company might transition you to the marketing role you were targeting in the first place.

7. Improve Your Skills

While one job seeker might be desperate for a job, you might be in a position to wait a while longer for companies to recover and start hiring again. If you are, now is the best time to bolster your skills and credentials. Look for advertised jobs you’d want, analyze the descriptions, and find the most common skills and requirements among them.

If there is a skill you can add to your arsenal or improve, take this opportunity to learn. Take a free course or pay for one. There are hundreds of FREE courses online that would boost your resume and make you a better candidate in the eyes of a recruiter.

Not sure where to start improving your skills? Here are some platforms with plenty of FREE online courses you can take at your convenience:

Final Thoughts

Economic slowdowns are challenging for companies, employees, and job seekers. However, these slowdowns are beyond your or my control. That’s why at times like these, you must focus on the things you can control and adapt to live through those you can’t.

Lay the groundwork now with the tips above so that you have easier time opening doors and rekindling career-making relationships once the crisis is over!