Applying for jobs can be a time consuming and nerve-wracking ordeal as it is. But add a global pandemic that increases layoffs to the mix, and it seems like no one will be hiring anytime soon. You might be wondering if you should continue spending hours on applications when economists are already predicting a recession. But as it turns out, the job market has become even more competitive. It’s important to keep in mind that most companies are still planning ahead — their survival depends on it.
“Companies might not be hiring today, because they’re trying to figure out how to do business virtually, but they will be hiring,” said Danielle Beauparlant Moser in an article for The Muse.
She said that it’s best to keep applying, provided you change your approach. So here are some tips on how to navigate this challenging new job market.
Engage your Network.
Now is the time to make use of every contact you have to get that application to the top of the pile. Let your friends and family know what kind of job you’re searching for so they can be on the lookout and reach out to their own network, too. Ask former colleagues or bosses if they have or know of any openings — getting their recommendation could be extremely impactful if they know your skills and work ethic. Everyone understands that this is a difficult time, so don’t hesitate to ask for help.
What about interviews?
With everyone working remotely, job interviews are being done by phone and video. This can make it harder to interpret the other person’s reactions, but it can also be an opportunity to stand out. Avoid any mishaps by checking your technology ahead of time and making sure you have a reliable internet connection. Dress up the same way you would if you were going person. Find a quiet, private and well-lit place to appear even more professional. The recruiters you’re talking to are already preparing for a future where video calls will be common practice. They might view the interview as test run to see how you handle it and fit into their business.
Customization is key.
Applying to jobs will be even harder and more competitive now, since more people are applying for fewer job openings on the market. That’s why you should focus on quality rather than quantity. Don’t make the mistake of applying to everything that sounds somewhat interesting. Instead, try to find recent openings and spend all your time and effort on customizing each cover letter and resume for the different jobs. Use some of the key words from the job posting to get past the ATS (Applicant Tracking System) and make sure it strikes a chord with the recruiters. Show them that you care about their company.
Take this time to build your skills.
Now that classes are over, you might have more time on your hands. So it’s the perfect time to work on bolstering your qualifications. If you are not 100% confident in the skills listed on your resume or in job descriptions that you find appealing, make sure to brush them up and become a stronger candidate. There are plenty of free online courses, such as MOOCs and EdX classes (featuring free courses from MIT and Harvard), and free Microsoft training tutorials that can help you improve your skills.
Be patient and don’t get discouraged!
There’s no doubt that finding a job in the time of coronavirus will be a difficult and even frustrating process. But you shouldn’t stop trying. As long as businesses are limited in their operations, so is everything else. But once re-openings increase and normalcy returns, companies will be hiring again. Worst case scenario, you’ll have to sit the crisis out. But you’re far from the only one in this situation, so be kind to yourself and give the job search some time.
words_tanja moissl illustration_jess morgan