What Does the Coronavirus Pandemic Mean for Your Job Search?
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As companies move to remote work to fight the coronavirus pandemic and an increasing number of workers are being laid off or furloughed, you might be wondering if you should continue to send out resumes or just assume that no one is hiring for the foreseeable future. It’s true that economists are predicting a recession, but career experts say it’s best to keep networking and applying, provided you change your approach a bit to acknowledge these are uncertain times.
Be prepared for job openings to be put on hold or disappear, even if they’ve been open for a while. That doesn’t mean they won’t open up again in a few months. With all that said, you can still be actively working on your job search. These tips will help you navigate the process during the pandemic and the accompanying economic slowdown.
Consider How Urgent Your Search Is
If you can afford to put your job search on hold, you may want to wait it out, because it could be challenging to get on a hiring manager’s radar right now. “If you’re currently employed, think about how to make your job more palatable,” says Nancy Halpern, founder of Political IQ, a Manhattan-based leadership-consulting firm focused on developing emotional intelligence. “If you’re not employed, don’t think of your next job as the perfect job. It might be short term.”
While many industries have and will continue to be hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, others are still hiring. If you’re unemployed and need a stopgap, consider looking there or wherever else you can find an opportunity that makes sense for you—and pays the rent and puts food on the table—in the meantime.
Stay In Touch
Maybe you recently had a promising interview and a job offer seemed to be on the horizon, but now the company has moved to remote work and you haven’t heard from the hiring manager. What should you do? Check in with the hiring manager by email, acknowledging that they might be scrambling to help their employees get used to the new setup. For instance, your email could say: “I’m looking forward to learning more when it makes sense for your organization.” This conveys that you know this is an extraordinary circumstance and acknowledges that this isn’t easy for people.
Let’s say you’re contacting someone you’ve networked with in the past. Your email can simply say: “I wanted to reach out to see if there’s anything I can do for you. You’ve been so generous with your time, I want to return the favor if I can.” If you have a specific skill a hiring manager might be able to tap into, mention it. You might say: “Given that I’ve led virtual teams, I might have some ideas to share on how to keep your employees feeling connected when they’re not in the office.” And find other ways to stay top of mind in addition to email. For instance, connect with the hiring manager on LinkedIn and, if they post a status, comment on it. If the hiring manager posts a company report or press release, make a comment that illustrates you read it and have valuable insight to contribute. Pretend you’re giving them a preview of what you’d add to the team if you worked there.
Boost Your Skills
Now is the perfect time to work on bolstering your qualifications, Moser says. Analyze job descriptions by listing each required skill and experience. Then consider whether you have that exact skill, if you have the skill but haven’t used it in a few years, or if you’re lacking the skill entirely. Use that information to determine what you need to brush up on to make yourself an even better candidate when the job market picks up again.
For instance, if you’re applying for social media or marketing specialist positions, the listing will likely require experience with Google Analytics and Hootsuite. Being certified in either or both would make your resume stand out.
There are plenty of free online course 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.)
During an economic slowdown, it’s important to focus on what you can control—improving your skills and reaching out to your network. You can lay the groundwork now so that when the crisis is over you have opened doors and rekindled relationships.
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