If you were a job seeker a month ago compared to a job seeker today, you’re looking at a very different landscape. For years, it’s been a candidate-driven market—but the pandemic has created unrivaled economic uncertainty. While it’s true many companies are in a hiring freeze and others are reducing staff, some industries are ramping up their recruiting efforts to fill critical positions.
Still, not everyone is looking for a job in healthcare, biotech, or delivery services. If you’re a current job seeker, how do you keep moving forward if you don’t know where you’re going?
Expand and nurture your network
Now is the time to leverage your professional network. LinkedIn has more than 500 million users—and many recruiters use social networking to source new talent, so make sure your profile is updated and complete. Connecting with professionals in your line of work and reestablishing relationships with colleagues from previous jobs, your alma mater, and even social acquaintances can open up opportunities you might not have considered.
Post ideas, articles, and other content that will attract and engage your target audience—specifically recruiters. You can also introduce yourself to recruiters at companies you admire via InMail or email. But do your research first. Spend time on their career site to learn what they’re about and if they’re currently hiring.
Many companies are updating their sites to reflect how they’re handling business during the pandemic, including work-from-home policies, virtual interviews, and other essential FAQs.
Make sure their protocols are in line with your expectations and adjust your communications appropriately. Personalize your message to not only showcase your talents but to demonstrate a working knowledge about their company and recent initiatives. Revealing how you will fit into the culture and contribute to their needs during this unprecedented time will set you apart from the competition.
Since in-person contact is limited and remote work is the predominant new norm, make every effort to use videoconferencing to maintain and nurture your relationships—personal and professional. Need a coffee break? Make it virtual. Launch a video meeting and have a conversation with a fellow teammate, catch up with a colleague you haven’t spoken to in a while, or introduce yourself to someone new. Virtual face-to-face interaction during times of isolation can boost your mood, promote camaraderie, and make a lasting impression on recruiters if done effectively.
Focus on professional development
Under normal circumstances, daily routines and commutes often get in the way of pursuing new learning and development goals. Now is an ideal time to explore your interests, identify your skills gaps, and pursue potential growth opportunities. Depending on your industry, short-term gig work may also be a viable option, especially as companies look to utilize the talent they already have in different ways.
With schools and offices closed, e-learning is skyrocketing, and many teachers and seasoned professionals are offering free live streams of informative content. Prioritize online courses you’ve been putting off and learn new skills as much as possible. If you’re currently employed by a company that leverages a learning management system or LMS, spend some time exploring it to increase your proficiency.
In addition, consider earning professional credits and certifications. Once you receive those merits, update your résumé along with up-to-date job titles, descriptions, freelance and volunteer work, and fresh, eye-catching design.
Another tip? Start taking phone interviews even if you aren’t actively searching for a new role. Conversations with recruiters will help you refine this essential skill and answer some pivotal questions: Why are you looking for a new role? Why do you think you’re the right fit? Tell me something about yourself that isn’t on your résumé.
Lastly, do not neglect the power of practicing for video interviews, which were gathering momentum even before the coronavirus crisis. They’re quite different from in-person conversations, and you’ll want to conduct multiple dry runs before the real deal. Analyze your posture, eye contact, tone of voice, sound and lighting quality, and backdrop—all essential details to get right.
Refine your work-from-home routine
The stark reality is that 88% of organizations have encouraged or required employees to work from home in response to the coronavirus outbreak, according to Gartner’s latest research. Although telecommuting was steadily increasing before the pandemic, embracing and optimizing remote work is no longer an option—it’s a necessity.
Working from home is a skill in and of itself. And while the length of this pandemic is unknown, it’s important to stay productive since every project you complete is more crucial to your company’s bottom line. So maintain regular hours and treat your day as you would if you were going into the office. Create a dedicated space for your work, set ground rules with family members, schedule breaks, and try to stay consistent.
Future job interviews will likely ask about your level of experience working remotely. For current employees, this is your chance to execute and document specific assignments that you’ve been able to accomplish from the comfort of your couch.
After this health crisis, it’s possible the number of remote workers will increase. If you’re able to demonstrate your effectiveness during this time, you’ll increase your odds of being one of them. At the very least, you’ll have another valuable skill to add to your résumé.
During this trying time, it helps to remember that the highs and lows of the labor market are cyclical. Above all, maintaining a positive outlook and leaning into your passions won’t steer you wrong. In time, this too shall pass.