This can be an especially frustrating and worrisome time for job seekers. Massive unemployment resulting from the coronavirus pandemic reflects decline and uncertainty in many industries. With fewer companies hiring, some workers who were laid off or furloughed face a more competitive job search.
But while it’s easy to get discouraged, employment numbers are creeping back, and retooling the job search method can help them stand out in the crowd and find desirable employers, says Jack Whatley, a recruiting strategist who specializes in creating employer-branding campaigns.
“Many companies still are actively recruiting and looking for people with the right skill set and mindset to fit these changing times,” Whatley says. “People seeking employment not only to pay the bills but also to find work that is meaningful to them can leverage this time to be strategic and nimble.
“While there are factors job seekers can’t control, they can choose to equip themselves with more information, skill, and overall preparation, and in the process conduct a successful job search.”
Whatley offers five tips to help job seekers navigate their job search during the pandemic:
Gather intel. Whatley says the pandemic can reveal the essence of a company’s culture, which is a priority for many job candidates today. In the process of searching companies, pay attention to their social media sites and websites, reviews by former employees, and how they are handling things now, Whatley says. “How are they treating employees during this continuing emergency? How have they adapted? Are they working from home? Did they lay off people, and if so, how quickly? Is there a community-mindedness to the business?”
Expand your skill set. With fewer positions or expanded roles in different positions, versatility is key. “This is an ideal time to take online courses to expand your professional toolkit,” Whatley says. “Acquiring new certifications will be helpful when applying for new roles. Use online learning modules for platforms such as Zoom and Skype, which help practice interview skills and remote work. Hiring managers want to know you have the capabilities to navigate the tools and platforms for remote work.”
Expand your network. Data shows that networking remains a frequent factor in getting hired. Whatley says this is the time to make new connections and re-establish existing ones. “First, paint a complete, updated picture with your profile on the job search site,” Whatley says. “Does your headline create a strong brand, and does your profile highlight your accomplishments and capabilities? Include keywords that might appear in job descriptions. Post content on your social media sites to show you’re engaged in meaningful conversation. And challenge yourself to reach out to new people by sending customized invitations.”
Be flexible in career paths. The kind of work one has been accustomed to may not be feasible given the current economic climate and the changes some industries are undergoing. “Research what industries are hiring, those in which you could apply your skills, and consider taking something that may not be on your Plan A list, but rather might be Plan B or C,” Whatley says. “Consider temporary opportunities. Search for opportunities in which you can leverage your transferable skills in a different capacity.”
Be prepared for the virtual interview. Virtual interviewing is the new normal. “Dress appropriately, as though you’re in the company’s office,” Whatley says. “Make your environment clean, appealing, and well-lit. Treat the video interview as though it were in-person. Be aware of making eye contact through the monitor, your tone, and your mannerisms.”
“Be proactive and persistent, but also be patient,” Whatley says. “Hiring processes may go slower for some companies, but there is a lot a job seeker can do to be ready when they call.”
Jack Whatley (www.humancodeofhiring.com) is a recruiting strategist who specializes in creating employer branding campaigns that position companies as the employer of choice in their market. He is the author of the upcoming book Human Code of Hiring: DNA of Recruitment Marketing. Whatley is known for creating successful recruiting and employer-branding campaigns and delivering highly qualified applicants.