Jobseeker's Guide to Job Searching During a Pandemic
Unemployment numbers are expected to continue to fluctuate through the end of 2020 and into 2021. While the pandemic is new, looking for work in a challenging job market is not. You can supplement some of the “tried and true” job search techniques with special strategies that are necessary because of COVID-19. But there are no hard and fast rules for a job search in a pandemic, so be flexible!
Even if you are currently employed now, some companies have announced further layoffs and furloughs as the pandemic stretches into late 2020. It’s important to be prepared for what’s next. This means updating your résumé and LinkedIn profile and taking the time to track and document your accomplishments.
In addition, it may be useful to take some time to analyze your transferable skills and experience, particularly if you are in an industry that has been negatively affected by the pandemic.
Some things about the job search are the same:
Companies are still looking to hire problem solvers
It’s important to use your network in your job search, as your contacts can help you identify unadvertised job opportunities and connect with hiring managers
Having an accomplishment-focused, up-to-date résumé and LinkedIn profile can help you secure interviews
However, some things are different in a job search during the pandemic:
Interviews for job opportunities are more likely to be virtual (rather than in person)
Human resources staffers are likely to be working remotely, and coordinating the hiring process can take more time than it did before the pandemic
Opportunities for remote work are increasing, and if you are able to do your job remotely, there are even more opportunities, especially outside your current geographic area
Temporary and short-term positions may be more plentiful. Companies may be wary of taking on permanent, full-time employees when their future is uncertain, but they still have needs to fulfill
One important thing to remember: Don’t automatically discard the things that worked for you before in your job search. If you have had success previously with a specific tactic — for example, working with recruiters, or tapping into the hidden job market, don’t write them off just because there is a pandemic.
“No One Is Hiring”
Your mindset is especially important when searching for a job during a pandemic. Companies are still hiring new employees. Want proof? Search for openings on job aggregator sites like Indeed.com, SimplyHired, or Monster. Check out the “Jobs on Facebook” feature (https://www.facebook.com/jobs/) or LinkedIn Jobs (https://www.linkedin.com/jobs/). You’ll see hundreds of open opportunities.
Companies in the shipping/delivery field are hiring, as are grocery stores and many healthcare facilities, including pharmacies. Information technology and technical support positions are also in high demand, as employees need more assistance with their computers and other devices when working from home.
Look for companies that are meeting pandemic-specific needs. These companies are now hiring for temporary, part-time, and short-term opportunities.
However, some industries are struggling. For example, hospitality companies — restaurants, airlines, resorts, hotels, and conference centers. Almost everything related to the entertainment industry has been affected. Colleges and universities are facing budget cuts as students defer returning to campus until the pandemic ends. Government organizations — often some of the steadiest employers — are also facing shortfalls affecting employment and hiring.
Even in companies that are hiring, there may still be uncertainty. The hiring timeline has grown longer in some cases. If the company is conducting multi-person interviews, it may take time to coordinate schedules so all the panelists are available at the same time. Some job openings may be put on hold temporarily as situations change in the business. You may even have a job offer rescinded if a company’s fortunes suddenly change.
If you’re currently unemployed, your next job may not be a full-time or permanent position. It may not be your dream job. But a short-term or temporary position may make it easier for you to weather the pandemic and be in a position to get a new role in the future. It’s often easier to get a job when you already have one. And some temporary and short-term roles may turn into permanent positions once the economy ramps back up again.
You may also find yourself temporarily changing fields during the pandemic. Is there a way you can use your existing skills in a new industry in the short term? For example, if you were a server in a restaurant, can you use your communication skills to work a remote customer service job? Or if you were an event coordinator for a hotel/conference center, could you use your project management capabilities to manage scheduling for a hospital?
Should you be searching for a new job now?
If you’re in an industry affected by the pandemic, the answer is likely yes. If you’re in an industry that is currently in a hiring freeze, lay the groundwork so you’re prepared to make a change once the pandemic ends.
Even if you’re not interested in changing jobs right now, create a plan for the future. Some things about the job search — for example, virtual job interviews — are likely to stick around long after COVID-19 is gone.