Searching for a new job in a normal market can be hard enough, add in a global pandemic and you might be thinking to yourself “is it even possible?”.
The short answer is, YES!
Yes, the pandemic has created noticeable economic and business uncertainty, and many companies are on a hiring freeze. However, it is not all doom and glum and it does not mean you need to let go of your aspirations and succumb to the distress.
Here are my top five tips on how to stay positive and proactive in your job hunt even during social distancing.
1. Try to grow professionally
On a usual day (when there isn’t a pandemic that is), how do you find yourself using your time? Does a large portion of it go on your daily commute, travelling to clients, going to meetings that could have been emails? If so, now you get that time for yourself, yay!
There hasn’t been a better time than now to take up new learning goals. E-learning is booming now that schools and institutions are closed with plenty of companies also offering free courses and webinars. This is the time to explore your deep-seated interests, know your skill gaps, and chase potential opportunities to grow.
Also, try adding more value to your resume by getting some certifications and credits in skills you do have but perhaps have not formalised. Work on yourself during this period. You are sure to benefit from it when things normalise.
2. Grow your network
You may already have a good professional network, though with busy work schedules often it can leave no time to leverage them. For those with or without deep networks, my best advice is to get onto LinkedIn. Since most employees and employers are working remotely, many are very active on social media and using LinkedIn to connect with potential contacts is an easy way to grow your network.
- Update and complete your profile with your employment history, skills, qualifications and achievements (keep it short and punchy).
- Make sure you’ve got a professional profile picture. LinkedIn profiles that have a picture are 11 times more likely to be viewed. So, if you’re still showing a silhouette, it’s time to make a change and reveal yourself. For those that want to let the professionals help I highly recommend speaking with Rebecca Taylor.
- Once you do that, start connecting with people in your industry or line of work. Reconnect with your old colleagues and acquaintances as you never know what might click. As the old saying goes “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”.
- You could also build out your list of recommendations on your profile page and perhaps take the time to give your own.
- LinkedIn can also be used to post articles, ideas, and other content. It’s all about endorsing your skills and yourself in a positive, powerful light. The more you engage with your audience through valuable content, the better your chances are of getting a profitable short-term gig or full-time job.
3. Update your resume
When you haven’t updated your resume in a while, it can be hard to know where to start. What experiences and accomplishments should you include? What new resume rules and trends should you be following? And seriously, one page or two? A topic in itself though here are a few must-haves to get you started.
- Think of your resume not as a comprehensive list of your career history, but as a marketing document selling you as the perfect person for the job. For each resume you send out, you’ll want to highlight only the accomplishments and skills that are most relevant to the job at hand.
- Recruiters look at your resume for six seconds. Yes, Six seconds! Get someone that you know (who will give you honest feedback) to scan your resume for that length of time and see what they notice.
- Use as many facts, figures, and numbers as you can in your bullet points. How many people were impacted by your work? By what percentage did you exceed your goals? What budgets if any did you have to work with? By quantifying your accomplishments, you really allow the hiring manager to picture the level of work or responsibility you needed to achieve them.
- When it comes to resume formatting and design, keep it simple. Use a basic but modern font, like Helvetica, Arial, or Century Gothic. Make your resume easy on hiring managers’ eyes by using a font size between 10 and 12 and leaving a healthy amount of white space on the page. I recommend having a look at Seek or flowCV for some template ideas.
- Cover letters: Some will advise you to do one every time, though personally if the job ad doesn’t ask for one, I wouldn’t bother. If you’ve structured your resume correctly your first page should be all you need to demonstrate suitability.
- Given the current climate if a cover letter is required then why not create a quick video instead to help you stand out from the crowd?
4. Build a pipeline of “Dream Jobs”
It’s important to have short term achievable goals but what about the long play? Even if you know your dream company does not have open positions, work on building up your pipeline of contacts in a variety of areas so that you don’t have to scramble when hiring freezes lift.
Perhaps pick the top five relevant people in that business or department and see if you can get connected. Once connected, use this time to understand more about what it takes to work there and get a read on what the culture is really like. Like what you hear? Then sign up for the company’s job alerts to keep you updated.
5. Tap into the “hidden” job market
What you see on job boards such as Indeed, Seek and LinkedIn etc. is said to only be 30% of what is actually in the market. Whilst I’m not suggesting you should give up on job boards, it’s just as, if not more important to also find recruitment firms that specialise in your area of expertise. This will help ensure you’re tapping into the other 70% of roles you might have otherwise missed out on.
Throughout my career in executive recuitment and as Managing Director of FT Executive, the majority (I’d say as much as 80%) of roles we fill are through direct approaches to talent within our deep networks. Just like you did when you created a list of “dream” companies, get to know the players in your space and pick a select number that you trust and feel will represent your brand effectivity to the market.
Job seeking during social distancing can be demotivating and cause you to lose your enthusiasm. Easier said than done but try not to let that happen, consider this time to quarantine yourself in your own space and make the best use of your time. Set out your long-term professional goals and define a clear way to achieve them. This will help use up your extra hours and keep you occupied in something that will transform your life so you can reap the positive results in the long run.
Co-founder & Managing Director
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