During the first week of March this year, just as the COVID-19 pandemic was ramping up in New York and many places across the country, the organization I worked for announced it would close down at the end of that month.
The following week, the whole city was under lockdown, and so began the period we’re currently living in. Faced with no job and every news headline screaming that the world was basically coming to an end, my job prospects looked bleak. In the ensuing weeks, I must have sent at least five applications a day. However, so much was still unknown back then, and all I got was email after email informing me that the company I’d applied to was implementing a hiring freeze.
Still, in the midst of all of this, I averaged two interview requests a week. And soon after, I started a cool new job and turned down other interview requests.
Do not be fooled, it was not all rosy. Like anyone else, I had good days and bad days. Some days I’d get two interview requests, while others I’d receive four rejections in a row. Regardless, having a solid job-hunting strategy helped me secure a job in the shortest time possible. I decided to share a few tips I followed to find a job when the U.S. is facing its worst recession in a century.
1. Start with the basics.
Most of us probably have a little more downtime these days. Use some of it to update your resume and LinkedIn profile. While you’re at it, clean up your social media pages. If you don’t have a LinkedIn page, create a profile, even if you haven’t got much to put on it. This will mean that when recruiters Google your name, your LinkedIn profile is what will appear first.
While updating your profiles, I would recommend adding remote-friendly keywords. Since many companies are now working remotely, it’s critical that you demonstrate to hiring managers your aptitude and experience when it comes to working from home.
2. Focus on industries that are hiring.
While COVID-19 has been devastating to a lot of industries, not all have been hit by the pandemic the same way. Customer service and warehouse workers, package handlers, accountants, and health care workers, for example, are still in demand. There’s an uptick in government-related positions to assist with the COVID-19 pandemic. Make sure to search the internet for companies in these sectors and look for open positions that fit with your experience.
A marketing role at a travel company might be hard to recruit for now, but you might find the same role at an electronic gaming company. Other sectors with prospective jobs include tech, finance, and online tutoring, as well as pandemic “essential businesses” like grocery stores and manufacturers of protective equipment.
3. Create job-hunting systems for success.
While job-hunting, it can be easy to lose hope and motivation, especially if you aren’t getting the response you want. Keep yourself motivated by setting daily and weekly goals. While I was job hunting, I decided to limit my time on online job boards. I would wake up early and apply for jobs in the morning only. I’d send about four to seven applications, depending on the length, but when it was time for lunch, I would stop and move on to something else.
Second, I prioritized informational interviews and looked for referrals. Informational interviews are structured conversations you have with people who work at your target employers or within your fields of interest. Facts: Only a tiny fraction of jobs are found online, the majority of people find jobs through referrals. You can aim to schedule a couple of informational interviews each week. Setting and focusing on clear goals, as opposed to measuring success by how others respond (such as the number of job interviews you get), will keep you moving forward.
4. Make sure you’re still networking.
Thanks to modern technology, networking while under quarantine has never been easier. Between resources such as LinkedIn, Zoom, FaceTime, and Google Meet, you can still reconnect with your existing contacts, or even meet new people in your chosen field or industry via virtual events.
Start with your first and second connections on LinkedIn and prioritize those who currently work or previously worked in the field, industry, or for a company that interests you. Send an email or InMail message, text, or call the person to touch base.
An informational interview isn’t a job interview, but it’s important to come prepared with a list of engaging questions.
5. Think about your long-term goals.
Perhaps this lockdown has given you time to think, and now you want to explore a different career. Making a career switch right now will be hard, but it’s not impossible. You will need patience and persistence in your goals.
This might be a great opportunity to do a little soul-searching and determine the next right step in your career path. Use this time now to consider what you’re looking for in both your next position and your future employer. Then, start laying the groundwork for a successful search, such as the tips mentioned above.
If you want to make a change but are unsure what you’d like to do, start by searching for people who have a similar background and have made a considerable career transition. This is a great way to determine what industries will value your unique skills and experience.
6. Prioritize self-care.
Finally, while you’re at it, don’t forget to prioritize self-care. Maintaining a positive mindset and a healthy body is critically important when you’re job hunting. Carve out time each day for exercise, healthy eating, and visits with people who brighten your day — even if for now, you can only connect by phone, text, email, or Zoom.
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