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Finding a Job During a Pandemic

Finding a job can be hard enough, but finding a job in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic can seem almost impossible. Many companies that are still open have implemented a hiring freeze, some are downsizing operations, and some have closed and may never re-open. Multitudes of folks have been laid off  and are now coping with job loss. If you’re one of those that needs to find a new job, do you have to just wait and sit idly by, frustrated, until the economy opens up again? Is there anything you can or should be doing right now to find a new job? As it turns out, there is.

How jobs and the job market may change

We know that it may take a while for things to open up again once the pandemic slows down, but we may find ourselves adjusting to a new “normal” in the job market. Some companies may start hiring again quickly – and for some, it may take months or even years for them to start hiring again. According to Fortune magazine and others, from here on out any job that can be done remotely, will be. Some jobs may move to being only online, especially now that employers see that working remotely is possible and could save them some overhead costs. Someone I know who manages a team of 25 people says that she has more time to do planning and be proactive in her work. Now that her team can’t just walk into her office at any time, they’re doing more critical thinking and problem solving on their own, which is better for them and for her. Moving work online could mean the end of the traditional eight-hour workday. While that might be cause for celebration for some folks, for others it means that they’ll have to set clearer boundaries between their home life and their work life.

In this new job world, efficiency may again be prioritized, people may have to wear multiple hats, and find ways to do more with less. (This may sound familiar to anyone who remembers past recessions – like the 2008 recession.) Temporary, contract, and part-time workers may be in demand, as companies struggle to add full-time staff. Middle managers may have to dive in and do some of the work that they’re also supervising their staff around. Business travel may become a thing of the past as budgets get cut and folks become more comfortable working via video (and during non-traditional work hours).

Tips for Finding a Job Now

If you need to find a job in the middle of this pandemic, you aren’t alone. While misery may love company, this also means that the competition will be fierce. Here are some things you can do now to set yourself up for success in landing a new job:

  1. Consider both your short-term and your long-term goals. If your short-term goal is to have a steady income and be able to pay your bills, consider that the job that you get right now may be just a paycheck. You may need to take something short-term to be financially stable while you continue to look for the right long-term position. Check out this list of companies who are hiring now.
  2. Find out who is hiring now. Get familiar with the job postings that are up (paying close attention to the dates they were posted) and what positions companies are hiring for. What sort of employees do companies need right now?
  3. Even if you don’t meet all of the criteria that they’re looking for, apply anyway. You may be surprised at how well your skills translate to another career or industry.
  4. Show how you can meet a company’s needs. Are you comfortable working remotely? Can you manage a team remotely? Are you someone who likes to wear a lot of hats and who can manage resources well? Make sure you highlight this in your cover letter and resumé.
  5. Set up Google Alerts for the companies you want to work for. See how they show up in the news. What are they doing for their workers that is laudable? Could they be doing more? Are they a company you would be proud to work for? Staying aware of what they’re going through and what they’ve been up against can pay off for you. It gives you a place to focus your cover letter and gives you a competitive edge in an interview.
  6. Work with a career counselor to learn how to network within your comfort zone. Reach out to everyone you know to let them know that you’re looking. Be open and honest about what kind of job you’re looking for. There’s no shame in being laid off during a pandemic.
  7. Join and participate in professional groups online. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is where it needs to be and connect with hiring managers on LinkedIn. If they post something, comment on it. Show them the kind of employee you would be. Find online discussion groups for professional organizations that you’re interested in and participate in them.
  8. Practice video interviewing. Interviews are already being done via video and the trend is only going to increase. Practice with a friend or a career counselor until you’re comfortable answering questions on camera. Consider camera angle, making eye contact, what’s in your background, and potential distractions. Your sister who lives across the country may love seeing your cat on camera, but a hiring manager is apt to consider it unprofessional.
  9. Stay open to new possibilities. Find out what companies need and think of creative ways to meet their needs, even if it’s in a non-traditional way. I once landed a job by volunteering to do a project for an organization who wasn’t ready to hire a full-time employee yet.
  10. Be patient and focus on what you can control. It may take some time for the company you want to work for to start hiring again – and you can’t control that. Focus instead on the things you do have control over: reigniting professional relationships, forming new professional relationships, and dusting off some of your skills.

The Next Step

Jobs give us so many things: structure, a sense of meaning and purpose, an awareness of our autonomy, and a feeling of mastery. It’s difficult to be between jobs. Taking steps to find a new job will help you move forward and feel a sense of accomplishment. Do the things that you can do now and get help if you need it. A career counselor can be an important partner in your job search and can help you stand out amid the competition. You don’t have to go through this alone.

References/Further Reading

https://fortune.com/2020/04/10/coronavirus-pandemic-changing-work/

https://money.usnews.com/careers/articles/your-guide-to-job-searching-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic

https://www.themuse.com/advice/job-search-coronavirus

https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2020/04/20/career-advice-getting-through-economic-downturn-caused-pandemic-opinion

https://www.themuse.com/advice/companies-hiring-during-coronavirus-covid-19

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