As a career coach, there is one question I have seen a lot of people asking a lot of late: Can the Coronavirus impact my ability to get hired?
The answer is yes!
The coronavirus, which is currently spreading like wildfire, is causing significant problems for both job seekers, employers, and employees. At the moment, companies all around the world are experiencing hiring freezes, layoffs, and alternative interviewing setups (e.g., video interviewing as opposed to face-to-face interviews) because of the pandemic.
Because of this, we should expect to see a slowdown in hiring over the next couple of months. In this time of uncertainty and panic, expect to see some companies shying away from hiring new staff until things get back to normal.
As someone actively looking for a job, what do you do during times like these? Do you continue searching as if things are normal? Or do you pause your search temporarily?
Here are several job hunting tips for you to consider during this time of uncertainty.
Work on Your Virtual Interviewing Skills
During this crisis, chances are your first few interviews will all be virtual - either through one-way interviews, video interviews, or phone interviews. With this in mind, make sure you prepare well for virtual meetings considering that face-to-face interviews will not be that common over the next few months.
Focus on Improving Your Brand
Use this time to revamp your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn strategy, so it is easy for employers to see your value quickly. Also, work on making your professional specialty or skill as a potential employee SUPER clear.
Come up with a 2 to 3 sentence personal branding statement that summarizes what you have to offer, how you do it, why you are good at it, and what you are looking to do next. Clearly outlining your skills will help you, as a brand, resonate with the people within your networks. Doing so will increase their chances of passing along opportunities that are a perfect fit for you.
The coronavirus crisis is currently providing a unique glimpse of how different companies operate. Pay attention to how a company’s management deals with the crisis and how it treats its employees by watching for media coverage and following it on social media. For instance, has the company allowed its staff to work from home? If not, what are they doing to support their workers? Have they laid off some of their staff members?
Consider setting up several Google alerts for the companies that you are looking to work for and pay attention to investor calls. When you get called for an interview, you will be able to show that you understand some of the concerns a company’s management has and some of the threats that it faces due to the pandemic. For example, the slow down in house purchases has impacted on a number of satellite businesses according to Nissim Fadida of removals business Moishes.com. Showing people in such an industry you can help them at a time like this can swing things massively in an interview. Consider mentioning what you listened to and read and use your knowledge to drive home your point on how you can help the company realize its goals should they hire you.
Start Using LinkedIn
While a lot of people have a LinkedIn profile, most of them rarely or have never used it, LinkedIn is one of the best places to market yourself for better strategic opportunities. At the same time, it serves as a virtual Rolodex.
Now is the best time to share content that supports your specialties (helping people remember who you are and what you do), reconnect with people in your networks, and inviting professionals who work at the companies you are considering to connect.
Getting more active on LinkedIn will allow you to build/rebuild a foundation for your network and brand both intentionally and strategically.
Take Time to Reflect
Many people searching for a job tend to jump at the first opportunity that avails itself or search for opportunities without thinking about what they’d like to do next. As a job seeker, take advantage of this time when the job market is slowing to think about where you’d like to work and the role and title you are seeking.
Draft a one-page document that highlights your target job titles, companies, industry, and anything you want. Make sure that whatever you list down is something that you can apply for should a posting that hits some, if not all, of your criteria, should pop up. However, beyond openings, you could also focus on the companies you would like to work for and who, within the company, can reach out to should an opportunity present itself. While the company might not be hiring at the moment, use the contacts in your networks to start making an acquaintance now.
Start thinking about the role you want more broadly, and if possible, hinge to an adjacent position that also makes use of your skills and experience. For example, let’s say you have been searching for a marketing role; however, with a smaller number of people spending money at the moment, the business might be inclined to look for someone to fill a communications role during this time of crisis.
Work On Your Skills
According to Moser, now is the best time to work on reinforcing your qualifications. Analyze work descriptions by listing all of the necessary experiences and skills, then consider if you have the skills needed, if you have the skills but have not used them in a while, or if you lack the skills entirely. Use this information to determine which skills you need to refresh to make yourself a better candidate for the job when things start picking up again.
Let’s say, for instance, that you are applying for a marketing or social media specialist position; chances are the listing will require that you have experience working with Hootsuite and Google Analytics. Being certified in one or both would really make your application stand out.
There are lots of free online courses including free Microsoft training and tutorials, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), and EdX classes (which feature free courses from Harvard and MIT.) For more sites offering online courses, click here. If you don’t know where to start, consider these classes for coding, data science, and digital marketing.
While downturns are bound to happen, a smart job seeker will still find ways to make things happen even when things are tough.
While finding a job in the next few months will be tough, you still have a good shot at setting yourself up for success by doing the things mentioned in this article. Just because businesses and companies are not hiring at the moment or are having to layoff some of their employees due to the coronavirus pandemic does not mean that they will never hire again. When they do, you need to be ready.