How to Refresh our Thinking about Job Search During This Pandemic Era

With COVID-19 and its mutations becoming a part of our daily lives along with the economic repercussions it’s important to refresh our thinking about how to search for and ultimately land a job.

  • Be clear about your story and goals

It’s paramount in this day and age that you are clear about who you are, what your story is, and where you’re heading. Without this foundation you will not have a concise pitch. Hiring managers have less mind space for clutter, and by having a crystal clear story and clearly defined goals it’ll be easier for them to advocate for you. This foundation will also be the basis for all job search materials – the cover letter, resume, elevator pitch, and interviews.

Start developing your story from your core and consider the intersection of your values, natural abilities, skills, and favorite industries or causes. Overlay your experiences with that intersection and see how they have shaped the way you work. What contributions have you made to your workplace? Lastly, where are you going and what is the impact you want to make in the world? When you have done this work, you can make it into a short and sweet elevator pitch that will come out easily and authentically.

  • Be willing to pivot

If you have been looking in one specific industry, especially one that has been adversely affected due to the pandemic, be flexible and look for other industries that are booming or staying steady. While you may have been itching to break into the hospitality industry, for example, it may need to wait a couple of years. What are some of the related or complementary industries and roles that you can explore during this time of transition? In what industries will you be able to develop transferable skills? This leads to my next point:

  • Stagger your targets

Instead of putting all your eggs in one basket take a staggered approach to job search. Just like the college application process, break down your job applications to: safeties, matches, and reaches.

Just like in a college application process, it’s advisable to have 50% of your job applications in Matches, 25% in Safeties, and 25% in Reaches.

Safeties: These are jobs that you have a very good chance of obtaining. Most likely you’ve done this kind of work before, and you can demonstrate your expertise easily. It may not be your dream job, but it’ll pay the bills and you’ll be satisfied in this line of work. 

Matches: These are jobs that you feel you have a good chance of obtaining and are good matches for you overall. You have some relevant or related experiences and knowledge of the industry and the responsibilities. 

Reaches: These are jobs that may be more of a challenge to get into. The opportunities may be roles or industries you haven’t worked in previously, but you’d like to break into for long-term career development. Getting in is not a sure thing, but you have transferable skills and it’s realistic enough to take a chance in applying.

  • Be intentional and ask your contacts for support

This isn’t the time to be shy about asking your contacts for favors and leveraging your network. If you’re not making the best use of your network, you aren’t giving yourself a fair chance. Intentionality is the key here. The more you can connect with former colleagues, graduate school friends, and colleagues from your volunteer gigs, the more you’ll learn about ways they can help you. And also importantly, think about ways you can help them and add value to them. What would make it worth their time to speak to you?

Take a look at your first and second degree connections and prioritize those who work or have worked in the industry or company that interests you. You can also connect through online networking events and job fairs hosted by Eventbrite and industry specific affinity groups.

  • Be more EXTRA during your interview

When you land an interview, be proud of yourself for scoring such an opportunity. There is a lot more competition in this economy, and it’s more difficult to get your foot in the door.

As many interviews are done virtually, there are several aspects to keep in mind when preparing for an interview. To properly prepare it’s important that you have the right space in your home and functioning technology. Check that you have a strong internet connection, good lighting, and the right volume.

It’s important to start with a good personal connection to start the interview well. Show interest in the interviewer and their story. Last but not least, as your energy is not as well conveyed in a virtual meeting, it’s more important than ever to have high energy and show enthusiasm for the role to connect with your interviewer.

While there may not be much that is under our control when it comes to the economy or public health, you still have control over how you think about your life, value, and opportunities. The more you are open to being flexible and shifting as external factors change, the more chance you’ll have at succeeding in searching for and landing a job.

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