2020 has been a tumultuous year on many fronts, including career management and job transition. Many companies have needed to make difficult decisions to restructure their workforce, resulting in job loss for staff members. The COVID pandemic and ensuing restrictions on travel and in-person gatherings forced companies to overhaul their recruiting and hiring processes in order to adapt to a virtual world.
Almost overnight, interviews and networking were happening via Zoom or other online technology platforms, causing job seekers to radically adjust their job search techniques. When you look a bit deeper, though, it’s apparent that many of the key components of an effective job search – having an updated resume and LinkedIn Profile; making networking contacts; doing your research – are still as important as ever. But the question remains: How can someone most effectively look for a new job in today’s turbulent environment?
It takes work, some creativity, and a fresh look at your network of contacts to find a new position in this disrupted job market. There is no clear playbook to follow, as we have never experienced times like these before. But there are some emerging best practices to help you navigate your job search in the COVID era.
Networking is a Must
With economic uncertainty fueling job concerns, networking is a step no job seeker can afford to skip. LinkedIn says applicants on the platform are nearly three times as likely to get a job at a company where they have a connection, which points to the power of leveraging your professional relationships. Now is a great time to catch up with former co-workers, and experienced professionals should make a conscious effort to stay connected virtually with the people they used to see in person.
It’s also helpful to explore virtual events through industry networking groups, many of which are offering free webinars. Join or increase your use of online networking sites and apps to keep in touch. Virtual meetings allow people to have choice in identifying those that they think would be helpful in a way that in-person networking events can’t. And don’t overlook networking opportunities on Instagram or Twitter, where people in creative industries may showcase their work.
Finally, widen your circle of contacts to include “weak ties,” people you might not have talked to in some time; they are more likely to have new information than those with whom you are in regular touch. Don’t be shy about reconnecting with a professional contact you haven’t been in touch with for some time; people are invariably happy to re-connect and help in any way they can.
Have Clear and Specific Goals
When you are out of a job, it may be difficult to distinguish professional priorities beyond getting a paycheck. But if you haven’t defined what you are looking for and can’t articulate this to recruiters or people in your network, it will make it hard for them to help you and can slow down your job search. Being clear about the position you want isn’t the same as being picky – it helps focus the job search on areas where you are more likely to be successful. And while job seekers may feel impatient to land their next role, be mindful to remain calm and professional when reconnecting with contacts or recruiters.
It also pays to identify which firms and industries are still hiring. According to data from Glassdoor, health care, e-commerce, logistics, and technology companies have been showing particular growth; while insurance, construction and real estate have been slower to rebound. Certainly, company performance within industries can vary significantly, so job seekers may find more success developing a target list of prospering companies.. A tech firm primarily serving the restaurant industry may not be doing so well, but tech firms serving e-commerce and delivery likely offer a wider variety of job openings.
Be Flexible – and Realistic – about Location
Complex office reopenings and social distancing measures have many companies reexamining the importance of an employee’s proximity to the office. The number of remote jobs posted on job-search site Glassdoor, for example, has increased over 50% compared with a year ago. But remember there’s a big difference between a job that is 100% remote and 85% remote – if you still have to go into the office even just once a month, this needs to factor into how wide of a net you cast in the job search. Unless an employer has confirmed that a job is fully remote and will remain that way, candidates should be prepared to return to the office at least occasionally.
Be Prepared for a Completely Virtual Interview and On-boarding Process
As noted earlier, the COVID pandemic has completely reshuffled the interview process; now, it is normal to be interviewed and start a new job without meeting anyone in person. As a result, job seekers need to be prepared to stand out, even if they are sitting at home alone.. Bias and immediate assumptions about a person are really powerful – the moment you first come into the virtual frame, the interviewer will form an impression of you – so it is important to be more thoughtful in the connection you are making. Being prepared with anecdotes or being aware of what is happening in the interviewer’s location or what they might be experiencing can lend a more human connection to the virtual setting.
It’s also helpful to take a “dry run” with a friend or colleague to make sure your technology is working and the setting looks professional. And it is best to over-dress for the interview, even in today’s increasingly casual business environment; you won’t lose points if you are the most dressed-up person on the video call.
It’s been an eventful and rapidly changing year, but these tips will help best prepare you to lead a productive and effective job search. Good luck!
VP, Senior Executive Services
Have you been laid off due to COVID? Check out these free resources to help you navigate your job search.
If your organization is facing upcoming layoffs, CCI Consulting’s outplacement support will help your exiting employees prepare for a successful job search. Whether planned or unexpected, downsizings and employee separations can be challenging for everyone involved, especially in today’s complex business climate. Our outplacement programs pair your exiting employees with an experienced career consultant and provides them with 24/7 access to our robust online career management portal, PowerMyCareer™.