Looking for a new position, especially when you’re between roles, can be stressful. The COVID-19 pandemic has made the process even more difficult. Unemployment has hit record highs and job postings have been down. With uncertainty in the near term, and face-to-face interactions at a minimum, what can you be doing if you’re job searching during the pandemic?
Set up a dedicated home office
Working from home, whether you’re employed or not, requires a dedicated space. If you don’t have room for a home office, find an area that serves as your home office. It could be on the dining room table or in a bedroom. The key is to treat it like your office and be consistent. Make the space look as professional as possible.
And with the pandemic, video calls have become part of the new normal. This means you need to consider how you look and how your surroundings look for the video camera. You can show some personality, since you are at home, but keep in mind how others will see it. If you have concert posters up and you’re looking for a professional role in the financial industry, the message you’re sending may not be what you intended.
And one last suggestion on your home office, avoid using virtual backgrounds when you’re interviewing. They can be fun on calls where everyone already knows you, but during an interview they can be distracting, taking the attention away from you and leaving a less than optimal perception of you with the interviewer. One exception is if you need to hide the view of where you’re sitting. In this case, use a background that is more traditional, instead of a funny one.
Look at other industries and companies
Just because some industries, like hospitality and retail, have been hit hard, many other industries have increased hiring. Look into the industries that are hiring in your field. And then look at the specific companies within those industries. Look for companies that match your ideal job. Those with a culture that aligns to your beliefs should be at the top of the list.
This will take time and persistence as you’ll be stepping out of your comfort zone. One way of getting comfortable with new industries is through informational interviews. You might find a company that looks like a great fit, but they don’t have an opening right now. See if anyone in your network can provide an introduction to the company for an informational interview.
Reach out to a person in the role you’d like and let them know you’re looking at making a change and would like to learn more about the role. This is a great networking opportunity as you’re not reaching out to them for a job, just information. Many professionals are more than happy to spend 20-30 minutes on the phone if you ask for their opinion.
Prepare a list of key questions
If the industries that are hiring are different than the one you’re currently in, it will also require you to show how your skills transfer from one industry to another. In some roles this may be easy, but in others you’ll need to demonstrate lateral thinking and develop examples, think of them as mini case studies, to highlight how your skills will translate.
Spend time thinking about your strengths and be honest with yourself. Look at your accomplishments and how you would describe them to others. Did you build collaboration with other teams? Were you tapped to lead a project? If so, why? Did you learn a new technology to automate a difficult task or process? Be thoughtful and deliberate as you prepare a list of questions you’d like to ask, and a list of answers to tough questions you expect to be asked.
You’ll be preparing for both sides of the conversation, which is a great way to feel confident, even if you’ve been out of work. If you’re not working, be ready to explain what you’ve been doing with the extra time. This is an opportunity to talk about new skills you developed.
If you have tips that have worked for your job search during the COVID-19 pandemic, let us know. Perhaps we can write a follow up post with your suggestions.