During the current COVID-19 crisis, it can be discouraging to see the rising unemployment figures and to know that it will likely continue to grow. You might be wondering: Should I put my job search on hold and give up on finding a new opportunity for the immediate future? If not, what can I do to ensure I stay top-of-mind for employers and ready to seize the next opportunity?
“Difficulties mastered are opportunities won.”
Now is the time to stay focused on your goals and redouble your job search efforts. Even during the most difficult times, companies continue to hire for critical positions. Those that are not doing so now will certainly need to ramp up hiring when they come out of their current holding pattern. The positions are there for those who have leadership skills and the courage to confront market challenges. If you are seeking a new opportunity, here are six tips on how to keep things moving forward in your career advancement.
- Build your network. Now is the time to be leveraging and expanding your professional network. Reach out to your network and let them know about your skills and where you can add value. While so many are working remotely and not traveling, it is a good time to reestablish relationships and to find out what is happening in their companies and industries. It is still true that many jobs are filled through networking connections, especially in the more senior roles. Make time to leverage social media networking opportunities to stay connected and to learn about potential job openings and leads.
- Be prepared. Get your resume and LinkedIn profile up-to-date and ready to go. Review your skills and experience and make sure you are highlighting your accomplishments. A good resume can play a strong supporting and defining role in your search by setting you apart from other executives and helping to communicate your skills, abilities, personal qualities and accomplishments to prospective employers. Your resume serves as an effective sales brochure to highlight your strengths and the contributions you can make to an organization. Recruiters and employers alike use LinkedIn to find candidates and to learn more about them. Take the time to update your resume and LinkedIn profile so they are consistent and representative of your expertise. Be sure to update your headshot so that it looks recent and professional.
- Practice for virtual interviews. In the age of “social distancing”, your interviews will more than likely be virtual. Prepare for phone and/or video interviews by practicing. Practice your answers in a mirror or on camera. Set up and learn to use the technology ahead of the interview. For video interviews, download the necessary programs and make sure the camera position, lighting and volume is correct. Be sure to remove anything distracting in the background. Find a quiet and comfortable place where you will not be interrupted. Read through the job description and do your research on the company, industry and interviewer(s) and develop questions to practice answering. (Here is a list of practice interview questions to get you started.) Prepare a list of talking points and questions you want to make sure you cover and keep it where you can reference it during the interview. Don’t forget to dress as if you were going for the interview in person. It will demonstrate your professionalism and seriousness about the opportunity.
- Be patient. Many positions have been put on hold or delayed, so be patient. Companies are still hiring in many industries, and in others, the delay will be temporary. If it is taking a while to hear back from a recruiter or employer, it is okay to check in periodically on the status of your candidacy, but don’t be discouraged if you haven’t heard anything in a while. Try to keep in mind that they are dealing with many unknowns regarding timing and they may not have an immediate answer.
- Improve yourself. This is a great time to work on developing your professional skills. You can increase your value in the job market by taking related courses, participating in training and earning professional credits or certifications. E-learning offers unlimited opportunities to pursue educational goals that will help enhance your prospects. If you are in a gap between jobs, potential employers will respect that you have used this time for personal and professional development.
- Care for yourself. Above all, remember to be kind to yourself and practice self-care. Be sure you are planning time in your schedule to exercise, eat right and relax. It is a stressful time for everyone—even more so if you are worried about finding a job. Take the time to care for yourself and to get the support you need to be successful in your efforts.
We are resilient and we remain a country full of opportunity for those willing to work hard to achieve their dreams. We have survived wars, depression, recessions and tragedies and we will survive this. Now is not the time to go silent and to let uncertainty dampen your ambition. Be ready for when this is behind us and companies will be scrambling to find top talent. In the words of Winston Churchill, “Difficulties mastered are opportunities won.”