By Dr Eugene Brink
To most people, job-hunting and its concomitant tasks are not thrilling. In fact, the emotions associated with these duties range from dread to fear.
Job-hunting in the Covid-19 era is even more daunting as many jobs, companies and sectors have started to disappear. This means less choice and more competition.
Hence, you must know how to ferret out the right opportunities and sell yourself in this tough environment.
Network (especially online)
Many events have shifted permanently online. So, seek out local professional groups on social media such as LinkedIn or on the internet. “Join in the conversation, post and comment, and make yourself visible. Just be sure to keep the conversation professional by posting relevant articles and chiming in on topics that allow you to demonstrate your expertise,” says Nancy Halpern, founder of Political IQ, a Manhattan-based leadership consulting firm focused on developing emotional intelligence.
Forbes’s job-hunting expert Robin Ryan says referrals and networking have been and still offer the best way to land a new job. “Seventy percent of all jobs are never advertised. Begin by making a list of people you can ask for help. Look at friends, neighbours, colleagues, and LinkedIn connections.
“Next, know the job you want and reach out to your network, asking for help. Using your contacts to ask for referrals to hiring managers, HR, or a recruiter pays off”.
According to Career Pivot, referrals dwarf applications with no connections with a 50% chance of getting an interview, compared to only 3%. Referrals comprise only 7% of the applicants, but according to Jobvite 40% of new appointments stem from referrals.
CVs still matter, but even more so their format
Make sure your online credentials are in order. This means ensuring that your LinkedIn profile sketches an accurate and compelling picture of your professional life.
Lisa Rangel, founder and managing director of Chameleon Resumes, says you must create a compelling summary, filled with recent and measurable achievements. “If you’ve received a promotion, be sure to include all titles under the company and list different job responsibilities per title,” says Jenna Spathis, team lead of technology recruiting at the staffing and recruiting firm LaSalle Network.
Also, be sure to populate your skills section and establish yourself as a thought leader by sharing media articles that you have produced or have been mentioned in.
Moreover, get past the robots. “Monster, Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and most other leading job boards use AI-powered applicant tracking systems like iCIMS and Taleo to shortlist potential candidates. Understanding how these systems work is just as important as understanding what employers are looking for. The machines that ‘read’ resumes are targeting keywords that are relevant to the job to be filled,” says Arran James Stewart, co-founder and CVO of recruitment platform Job.com.
“For the best chance of moving forward and getting your resume in front of a human, use wording from the job description in your resume – without making it a carbon copy of the job requirements, of course.”
Some time-honoured advice still obtains. “The best way to capture attention is to have a very targeted resume that emphasizes the results you have achieved in your past jobs. Employers believe if you have made significant accomplishments in the past, you are likely to do the same for them,” says Ryan.
Further to the digital theme, says Laurianne McLaughlin, content director for the IT consultancy The Enterprisers Project, is that for the foreseeable future most interviews will be online. “That means you need to ensure that you look professional and engaging on the video call. You also need to strive to create an emotional connection with the interviewer – not as easy to do on video as in person.”
Keep the following in mind:
- Look directly into the webcam to make eye contact.
- Dress professionally, from head to toe in case you need to stand up.
- Pick a clean, uncluttered background and avoid virtual backgrounds.
- Nod and smile more often than you think you need to.
- Using your hands can also help establish a connection.
Keep an open mind and boost your skills
Whole sectors have been paralysed or temporarily stymied by the impact of Covid-19. “Be prepared to think about your role more broadly and possibly pivot to an adjacent position that would also make use of your experience and skills. For instance, you might have been targeting a marketing role but with fewer people spending money, the company might be more inclined to hire someone for a communications role during this crisis,” says career journalist Lisa Rabasca Roepe.
It doesn’t matter if you haven’t formally acquired a skill. If you can informally acquire and demonstrate it, you have taken a big leap towards getting the job you want. Read up, listen and speak to experts, pursue online courses, and practise. Lastly, tout your soft skills such as communication skills and problem-solving.
Laurianne McLaughlin, 12 August 2020, “How to get a job during COVID-19: 9 smart tips”, https://enterprisersproject.com/article/2020/8/how-get-job-during-covid-19-9-tips.
Lisa Rabasca Roepe, 2021, “What does the Coronavirus pandemic mean for your job search?”, https://www.themuse.com/advice/job-search-coronavirus.
Robin Ryan, 1 September 2020, “How COVID-19 has changed hiring and job search and how to be successful”, https://www.forbes.com/sites/robinryan/2020/09/01/how-covid-19-has-changed-hiring-and-job-search-and-how-to-be-successful/?sh=7701199a3758.