Next Avenue: How to find work in a pandemic economy

Next Avenue

It’s not easy these days. Here’s where to look, and some networking tips

While many companies are shedding workers, lots of others are hiring, but networking is key.


Bloomberg

Job hunting is never easy. But the coronavirus pandemic is creating challenges unlike any we’ve ever seen, with unemployment at 14.7% or higher and employers laying off or furloughing millions. The job search engine site Indeed says job postings in late April were more than a third lower than a year ago. So, how can you find work these days?

Here are five strategies, they’re my follow-up to last month’s post on how to prepare for a layoff:

1. Research employers and industries in active-hiring mode. While some firms, nonprofits and government agencies are shedding workers, others are looking for new employees. A recent Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey found that 31% of health care organizations are actively hiring and 16% expect to be soon.

Other sectors with prospective jobs include tech, finance and online tutoring, as well as pandemic “essential businesses” like grocery stores, delivery services and manufacturers of protective equipment.

These five sites have real-time lists of employers that are hiring:

These lists can be helpful. But remember: the vast majority of job openings are found through networking and referrals, not online postings. That’s why Job-Hunt.org founder Susan Joyce suggests that after checking these lists you  then “find other smaller employers which do similar things and develop your own list of target employers.”

In other words, use them to get an idea of which types of employers are hiring and then network, network, network!

2. Ramp up your informational interviews. One of the best ways to expand your network and uncover potential job opportunities is by conducting informational interviews. Those are structured conversations you have with people who work at your target employers or within your fields of interest. They typically last about 30 minutes and can be conducted by phone or a video chat/conferencing service such as Zoom.
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Don’t miss: Why COVID-19’s impact on the job market is far worse for older workers

“A good informational interview is part research and part building rapport,” says Noelle Gross, a career coach in Stamford, Conn.

Although an informational interview isn’t a job interview, it’s important to come prepared with a list of engaging questions. A few that Gross suggests:

  • Where are you seeing the most opportunities in this industry?
  • What is one problem within your department/company/field that if solved would make your life a lot easier?
  • Is there anyone else you think I should talk to as I continue to gather information?

For additional guidance on informational interviewing and other job-search strategies, I highly recommend LinkedIn’s collection of free training videos, “Finding a Job during Challenging Economic Times.”

3. Add remote-friendly keywords to your résumé, cover letter and LinkedIn profile. Since many employees are now working from home and many hiring managers expect people they bring on will, too, it’s critical to show your aptitude and experience at it.

Mention specific video technologies you’ve used, such as GotoWebinar or Zoom. Cite your familiarity with document-sharing tools like Google Docs. And detail how you worked remotely. For example, “Led a remote team of 15 employees across multiple time zones from a dedicated home office.”

Include and highlight relevant soft skills, too — such as time management or written communication —  that demonstrate you can be as productive working from home as in an office.

4. Monitor social media for prospective job opportunities. In a recent Jobvite survey, 58% of recruiters said they’re using social media like LinkedIn, Facebook
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and Instagram to promote their brands and connect to talent.

Advises Jobvite CEO Aman Brar: “Maintain a clean and active digital identity, build strong professional network connections and get familiar with the employer’s brand.”

To connect with employers that are recruiting candidates through social media, follow their social media accounts to learn more about their operations and culture; retweet and share their relevant posts and comment on their posts when you have something constructive to add to the conversation.

Also see: This troubling chart might change your mind about lockdown restrictions

Doing so might lead you to hear from one or more of them.

5. Create job-hunting systems for success. It’s easy to lose hope and motivation during a long job search. But as legendary UCLA coach John Wooden once noted, “The more concerned we become over the things we can’t control, the less we will do with the things we can control.”

With that sentiment in mind, here are three ways to do more with what you can control as a job hunter:

  • First, set daily and weekly goals. For example, “I will schedule four informational interviews each week” or “I will make three networking calls a day.” Focusing on clear goals, as opposed to measuring success by how others respond (such as the number of job interviews you get), will help keep you moving forward.
  • Second, limit your time on online job boards. Research shows that only a tiny fraction of jobs are found online (and some posted jobs may already have been filled). Spend no more than a half-hour per day on job boards and use the bulk of your time networking and looking for referrals into jobs.
  • Third, make self-care a priority. 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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