If you’re looking for a job right now, you’re probably anxious for things to get back to whatever version of “normal” comes after the pandemic. And if you don’t like the job you have, you might feel guilty about thinking about changing companies during this global crisis.
Rest assured, there are millions of people in your same situation. Last spring, the onset of the coronavirus pandemic led to the highest unemployment rate ever witnessed in American history. And a lot of places are nowhere near a full recovery from that initial shock.
“There are more people looking for jobs right now than there are actual job openings,” said Kevin Harrington, CEO of job search platform Joblist. “That’s not going to change overnight.”
But even if you’re feeling desperate about your employment options, you shouldn’t give up trying to find a job. Here are a few pandemic-era strategies you can adopt to make the most of your job search.
1. Prepare to be Flexible
Not seeing a lot of jobs in your field? It may be time to broaden your search.
A recent Joblist survey found that 65% of job seekers are now more likely to take a position outside their industry than they were before the pandemic, and 42% are more open to a part-time, gig or contract position.
“Job switching is more common and accepted now than ever before,” Harrington said, advising people in need of work to consider short-term stopgaps while they seek stable long-term employment. “There’s going to be significant understanding from employers as you shift back into a full-time role.”
That particularly goes for people working in leisure and hospitality, fields that have been hit especially hard by the economic impact of the pandemic. During the height of the economic shutdown in April, nearly 40% of job losses came from these two industries. And many of those businesses are still trying to figure out paths to stability.
“A lot of skills in hospitality are widely applicable to other jobs that may have had a surge in hiring,” Harrington said, like customer support and ecommerce logistics roles that rely on skills like organization, clear communication, and multitasking.
If you’re starting to look for jobs that are outside of your role or industry, you may want to ask for help preparing for the process. Cynthia Hayward, director of coaching and career transition services at CBIZ Inc., recommended tapping into your local community college, as most offer some sort of career coaching or resume review assistance at no cost.
Hayward said that part-time jobs and temporary gigs can help you gain entry into an industry you’re interested in—plus, it can give you a sense of purpose while you look for a long-term role.
3. Lean on Your Network
Industry meetups and in-person networking happy hours may be on hold for now, but it’s still important to share your employment goals with others.
Although you may be suffering from Zoom fatigue, it’s worth setting up informational phone or video-chat meetings as if you were asking someone in your network to meet for a cup of coffee.
“Seventy to 75% of jobs aren’t published anywhere,” Hayward said. “Look out into your network, identify employers you admire, and network with people you know there. You may discover some inroads to new roles.”
In another time and place you might have felt embarrassed to admit you were out of work or were looking for a new job. But in a strange pandemic economy, the more people who know you’re open to opportunities, the better your chances of getting your resume in front of a hiring manager.
5. Get Ready for Zoom Interviews
Before you get a job, you’ll likely have to complete at least a couple interviews. And unless you’re preparing to work on the front lines during this pandemic, most interviews will be remote. You’ll need to sell your skills by phone or video chat.
“You don’t get to make that handshake impression,” when you participate in virtual or phone interviews, Hayward said. “So you’ve got to make sure the rest of your stuff is bulletproof.” That means updating and reviewing your resume, LinkedIn and social media profiles.
It also means preparing for the technological requirements of a virtual interview. Recruit a friend to test your settings with you prior to a video interview to make sure your connection is strong and you’ve picked out a distraction-free spot to take the meeting. “Those first few minutes are critical,” Hayward said, so make sure your interview starts strong—not with technical difficulties.