The coronavirus also known as Covid-19 continues to spread globally and throughout the U.S. The uncertainty that surrounds the virus has created a cautious and even standstill hiring environment. More and more companies are moving their workforce remote, with some companies even closing their doors as a precaution. The future of the economy and after-effects of this virus remain to be seen. If you’re actively searching for a new job, the coronavirus adds yet another layer of complexity to the mix. In this post we’ll explain what the coronavirus means for your job search and how you can make the most of this unexpected hiring slowdown.
Above All – Prioritize Your Health Over Your Job Search
The rate at which the coronavirus spreads has put everyone at risk of getting sick. If you happen to be one of the unfortunate folks to contract the virus, your job search skills will be of no use. Therefore you want to prioritize your health and the health of your family in times such as these.
Whatever you do, do not put yourself or others at risk by neglecting social distancing or the guidance of the CDC and your local government. Even if you are not particularly vulnerable to becoming a critical case, you want to be considerate of those around you, who may be at heightened risk. If you can avoid going out, and congregating in crowds, you absolutely want to do so. Everyone must do his/her part in minimizing the spread.
Expect the Worst…
For the next couple weeks, or even months, let’s face it: your job search will not be the same. Coronavirus has impacted the economy and this will impact hiring for certain industries. As if the job search didn’t already feel like it was totally out of your control! There isn’t a whole lot you can do at this point to change the hiring climate. I realize this may be extremely stressful especially if you are currently unemployed and on a job-landing deadline.
It’s important in times like these, that we expect the worst and plan accordingly. Much of job search success is determined by your mindset and how well, or not, you are able to manage your mentality. It does you no good to be overly optimistic. This will just result in disappointment. It’s best to take a more realistic view and to of course, maintain a hopeful spirit.
…but Prepare for the Best
The best case scenario is that hiring bounces back quicker than we expect. And it’s for this scenario that you should prepare. For all you know this hiring slowdown could be the blessing in disguise you need to refocus, recommit, and revamp your job search. Your goal should be to hit the job market with a bang once hiring resumes.
There are steps you can take to improve your chances of landing a job, even during a hiring freeze. Your best chances of maintaining sanity and a positive attitude during this time, are in doing what you can vs focusing on things outside your control.
Interviewing? Here’s What to Expect
If you were in the interview process at the time the coronavirus hit, my condolences. Nothing like a global crisis to interrupt your chances of landing a job. Many companies have moved to video interviews as an alternative to in-person hiring.
- If your interviewer is still planning to move forward, expect to engage in a virtual process from this point forward.
- If your target employer is anticipating taking a major hit, they may indeed plan to put hiring on a complete hold. In this case you are best to be sympathetic and let the hiring manager/interviewer know that you understand and are sympathetic.
- If you aren’t feeling well, and your target employer is inviting you to an in-person interview. Kindly request a postponement due to your health. Any employer would certainly understand and be sympathetic during times like this. If your target employer was not sympathetic, it may be a red flag worth avoiding altogether.
Unemployed? Have a Financial Back-Up Plan
If you’re unemployed and your finances were dwindling away prior to coronavirus, you are likely under a tremendous amount of financial stress. This will become a barrier to your job search and is probably something you will want to prioritize immediately. The job search can be unpredictable and with the added stress of finances, it can sometimes become unbearable. This is why you will want to prioritize a way to earn or save more money. It will do you no good to attempt the key job search functions while also trying to manage the anxiety associated with not being able to pay the bills. Saving money in the job search is possible. It may require a bit of creativity and some efforts towards becoming more frugal, but it’s not impossible.
Refocus Your Job Search on Temporary Virtual Opportunities
One option for earning some income and keeping social distance, is virtual opportunities. Depending on your line of work, you may be able to make some extra cash through freelance or project gigs. Upwork is a great website for finding and posting virtual job opportunities. If you have a more creative skillset, Fiverr can also be a good venue for advertising your services and picking up gigs. And of course there’s always Craigslist for more local gigs. However, you will want to filter gigs and jobs based on remote work only at this time.
Take Time “Off” to Stay Healthy
If you’ve been aggressively job hunting prior to the coronavirus pandemic, now might be a great time to take some time off. Staying healthy should be your priority during this time. No amount of work will accelerate any kind of hiring slowdown so in this sense, your job search is outside of your control. Relax. Spend some time with your family, or in your hobbies. Go outside for a walk (assuming you are keeping social distance). The last thing you want is to overwork yourself and neglect keeping your immune system strong. Give yourself permission to dial it down and work at half speed, especially if you have been giving your search 110%! You’ve earned it!
Make the Most of the Quarantine – Job Search Actions to Take During the Hiring Downtime
If you are healthy, locked inside, and eager to make any kind of job search progress, you’ve come to the right place. The online job boards will be a dead-end during a hiring freeze. And if I’m being totally honest, job boards are a dead-end even when the market is strong! That said, now is a great time for you to focus on job search activities that a) take time, work, and extra focus and b) don’t necessarily produce immediate results, but are still critical for managing your search. I recommend focusing on these specific job search activities.
1. Amp up Your Online Networking
Networking is by far the best way to expand your network and make inroads into your target companies. Yet it is one of those job search activities that is avoided by most job searchers. If you are someone who avoids networking like the plague (or coronavirus), then now is the perfect time to try something new. Challenge yourself to up your online networking game using LinkedIn. While most employers are moving towards work-from-home scenarios, you can be sure that your target contacts will have more time for networking. Now is a great time to engage new industry contacts and schedule phone informational interviews. Search for high-value networking contacts to contact and make outreach one by one.
Before you engage your Linkedin contact, try and get a sense as to whether or not he/she is open to being engaged during this time. Since you never know how much or little people are personally affected by the coronavirus, assess your target contact’s LinkedIn activity over the past couple days. If your target contact is visibly active on LinkedIn (sharing content, liking posts, etc.) he/she will probably be in a place to engage.
2. Focus on Developing New Skills to Support Your Career Change
Career changers and re-entry folks typically have the toughest time landing new opportunities. Much of this is due to their lack of relevant, current experience. If this is you, now is a great time for topping up skills to become more relevant. Take advantage of LinkedIn’s online skills courses or other online learning opportunities (Udemy, Youtube, etc.). This will allow you to add new skills (and valuable branding keywords) to your resume and LinkedIn profile. Recruiters and hiring managers searching for these skills keywords will then be able to find you in the future! Consider it an online learning sabbatical from your job search. Developing new skills will also help to increase your confidence around entering a new industry or career path.
3. Focus on Putting in the Time for a Brand Makeover
Branding is one of those job search activities where people tend to skimp. Branding takes time, research, creativity, and personal reflection – all of which can be daunting for the average job seeker.
- If you’re someone who is quite sure you are not a branding guru, now would be a good time to look into a professional resume review with a certified professional resume writer.
- If you’re someone who is up for the branding challenge, put your search on pause and focus 100% on brand improvement. There are tons of branding resources available for DIY branders for your resume, LinkedIn profile, and cover letter. It may just be a matter of making the time to study and then apply your insights.
4. Focus on Getting Clear on Your Career Goals
If you’re someone who feels a bit scattered in terms of where you want to go next, now is a perfect time for gaining career clarity. You need to spend some serious time researching career paths. You also need to spend some time reflecting on your values, passions, goals, strengths, and so on. Without career clarity, you will continue to spin your wheels and eventually lose valuable momentum. Consider spending this time working with a virtual clarity coach. If you are more of a DIY job searcher, spend a LOT of time researching on LinkedIn until you can clearly identify they types of companies/roles you are interested in pursuing.
Focus on What Matters Most
Landing a job may be your priority right now. I get it. But times like these should also open our eyes to the things that matter most in life. I’ve come to learn that what matters most, is not necessarily achieving our career goals. Life is short and not something that should be taken for granted. Spend time with your kids if they are home from school. Engage in conversation. Be present. Enjoy quality family time. Play board games. Talk about life. If you live alone, write letters to long lost friends or family. Call an elderly person who may be shut-in and truly experiencing loneliness. Stay in touch with those closest to you or those with whom you’ve neglected to maintain a relationship. If you focus on what matters most, you’ll never have any regrets.
If you want to significantly improve your resume and job applications AND produce more offers, sign up for Noelle’s job search support community. You’ll receive a comprehensive job-landing program filled with career coaching, resources, templates, and expert guides – everything you need to land your next job in record time!