By Debra Wheatman
I have probably received more questions on the topic of conducting a job search in the current climate than I have on anything else in 2020. When the restrictions were first enacted, many people decided to go into a self-imposed holding pattern and shelve their job searches.
However, ongoing restrictions and contraction in the job market render this a nonviable option. So how do you search for a job amid the pandemic? Here are five strategies that can help you succeed.
Network. Networking remains the best way to find employment opportunities. The only difference is that networking has become almost entirely virtual. The good news is that you have more access to diverse networks than ever. Get on LinkedIn or Meetup and find people with common interests. Join groups that appeal to your goals, and interact with people and share your knowledge. Remember, don’t go into networking with the message, “I need a job. What can you do for me?” It’s a two-way street. Don’t just take; give as well.
Up your technology game. Have you been on a videoconference where someone’s Wi-Fi keeps cutting out? How about someone with poor lighting, making it look like they live in a basement, hiding from the feds? Yeah, no. Not a good look. Upgrade your internet, invest in a good webcam if your computer is sub-par, and consider a light ring to provide balanced lighting and show you in, well, the best light.
Look the part. We know you’re working from home. That doesn’t mean that you should show up for your virtual interview, looking as if you just rolled out of bed or came in from working in the garden. Dress the same as you would for an in-person interview.
Be specific about your goals. This is good advice outside of the pandemic as well. But it will be even more important than ever that you have an articulated and defined vision not only of what you’re looking for in your next role but what you can do for a potential employer. Why? Because everyone is on edge. And providing clarity will put people at ease and engender trust.
Manage your expectations. I’m hearing that the entire job search process is taking even longer than it was before restrictions when people were still doing in-person interviews. I think this is probably due to the heightened focus on proceeding with caution. A client recently had a first video screen with a new company and was told that the process would entail a one-on-one with the hiring manager, a series of four to five additional meetings with other team members, a presentation to the team, another one-on-one with the hiring manager, and finally, a meeting with the CEO.
Most importantly, be confident and proactive. Remember my number one piece of advice—job searching is not about YOU; it’s about how you can help an employer solve a pressing business problem. Approach your job search with that in mind, and tailor your tactics to reflect the current reality. Finally, the shining light at the end of the tunnel: it’s not a question of if you get a new role—only when.