Millions of people have filed for unemployment since the coronavirus hit the United States, pushing the country’s unemployment rate up to nearly 15 percent at the time of this writing and leaving countless families wondering how they’re going to make ends meet. If your employment situation has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, here are a few tips to help you find a job during these tough times.
1. Update your resume and LinkedIn profile.
If it’s been a while since you updated your resume, before you start looking for work it’s important to refresh your resume so it accurately reflects your current situation. Be sure it includes your most recent position and that the skills it lists are up to date. Consider creating multiple versions of your resume that accentuate different skillsets, education and training, and work experience so you can send more-customized versions for the jobs you’re applying for.
And don’t forget about LinkedIn and other social media employment sites. Don’t have a profile yet? Well, there’s no better time than now to create one. If you do have a profile, make sure it’s current and portraying what you want it to portray. Up to 90 percent of job recruiters use LinkedIn to find candidates for job openings, so if you’re not on the platform, you could be missing an opportunity to connect with people who are actively hiring.
2. Tap into your network.
Networking is one of the best ways to find a job, so get in touch with people in your own personal and professional networks. Reach out to former colleagues, friends, family members, neighbors—whomever might be able to help you get a lead or your foot in the door. Let them know you’re actively looking for a new job and tell them what type of position you’re looking for.
You never know who might be in a position to hire you or refer you to someone who can. Most people like to help other people, especially if they have a personal or professional connection with that person. If someone does help you, let them know how appreciative you are, and try to pay it forward down the line. Networking is a two-way street; use it for help when you need it and help others in your network when you can.
3. Utilize online job boards.
Look through listings at online job boards such as LinkedIn, Monster, CareerBuilder, Indeed, Simply Hired, and others. These sites list jobs from employers all across the country. You can customize your job search based on geography, industry, job function, skills, and more to help you find opportunities that match your skillset and experience.
You may also want to check out recruiting firms that search for candidates on behalf of other companies. Many staffing firms specialize in hiring for certain industries, so look for agencies that concentrate on the industries you’re interested in.
4. Expand your search by looking for jobs in industries that are hiring.
If you worked in an industry that’s been hit especially hard by the pandemic, such as the hospitality or travel industries, you may need to expand your job search into other industries to find gainful employment. Several fields are booming during the pandemic and actively recruiting workers. Consider targeting your job search in industries and businesses that have announced that they’re currently hiring. That may mean you need to explore opportunities you wouldn’t normally consider, but that’s okay. As you’ve undoubtedly heard countless times, the pandemic has created a “new normal.”
If you land a job you don’t love, you don’t have to stay there forever. You can always look for your dream job when the current economic situation is more stable. If you need a job—any job—right now so you can pay the bills and put food on the table, consider taking a part-time job, working multiple part-time jobs, or getting a temporary position until you find a full-time opportunity. If putting food on the table or paying your bills is your current priority, you can worry about career fulfillment after you’ve taken the necessary steps to fulfill your and your family’s basic needs.
5. Prepare yourself for social-distance interviewing.
During the pandemic, many companies have transitioned from in-person to video interviews. Instead of waiting until you have an interview to prepare for this new way of hiring, do it now. You’ve probably seen photos and videos of conference calls that were not exactly ideal. Don’t let that be you.
If you’re the kind of person who’s been getting by because your magnetic personality instantly charges any room you step into, that may not translate in two dimensions when you’re in one location and your interviewer’s in another. So you may need to practice in front of the mirror to make sure you’re coming across the way you want.
For an actual interview, find a quiet place in your home—away from barking dogs and screaming children—where you can be professionally interviewed when the time comes. Make sure you have good lighting so you’re not sitting in the shadows and it doesn’t look like your head is floating in an abyss of darkness. Dress like you would if you were going into the hiring manager’s office for the interview, which, yes, includes also considering how you’ll look below the bottom edge of a computer screen. You don’t want to look like this reporter during your interview. Click here for more tips on looking your best during a video call.
6. Try to exercise a little patience.
Of course, remaining patient is much easier said than done when you have a family to feed, bills to pay, and you’re trying to keep a roof over your head. But with millions of Americans in the same position, finding a new job may not happen overnight, so a modicum of patience is necessary while you make looking for a job your actual job until you actually find one.
And don’t stop believing that you’ll actually find a job. Remember, you are not your job. Who you are is not what you do for a living. Try to keep the big picture in mind as you navigate the ups and downs of seeking employment. And try to stay positive. Keep in mind that nothing—including a pandemic and your employment situation—is permanent.
Jennifer Brozic began her writing career at seven years old, when she scribed the epic tale of her kite-flying (and skyward-looking) uncle crossing paths with a deep hole in a sandy beach. After earning a degree in journalism, Jen worked in the insurance and financial services industries before earning a master’s degree in communication management. She left the nine-to-five corporate world in 2010 and has been freelance writing ever since. Her areas of expertise include insurance, financial planning & budgeting, and building credit.
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