According to the U.S. Department of Labor, over 6.6 million people filed for unemployment insurance in the week ending on March 28. Even if you haven’t been laid off or furloughed, your company may be implementing hiring and salary freezes for the foreseeable future. That raise or promotion you were counting on could be delayed for months or even longer. While it may seem appropriate to sit back and wait, this isn’t a time to postpone your job hunt. In fact, by developing effective job search strategies now, you’ll be ahead of your peers when the situation finally normalizes.
Using your spare time while in self-isolation to network online is a great way to lay the foundation for future career growth. Kickstart your job hunt by increasing your digital presence. Update your LinkedIn profile, ask for recommendations, and join relevant groups. For instance, if you’re looking for a job in marketing, you could join LinkedIn’s Global Marketing and Communications Professionals group. Reach out to new and existing contacts and comment on people’s posts. Take a brief daily break from work to send notes to former co-workers and other connections and ask how they’re doing. Try creating a video greeting to make it even more personal.
While some companies are still hiring, the interview process is taking longer than usual. HR departments are scrambling, trying to implement remote work policies, and keep existing employees productive. If you do apply for a position and don’t hear back right away, don’t panic. Wait a few weeks and continue to follow-up via email with the HR contact or hiring manager. If you reach out to a company during your job hunt and they aren’t hiring now, check back in a month so you can stay top of mind. You can also connect with the HR manager on LinkedIn and, if they post a status, comment on it. That way, when something does open up, you’ll be one of the first people they think of.
Are you saving valuable time by avoiding that daily commute? You can use those extra minutes to explore and research target companies. Set up Google Alerts for firms you are interested in. Also, take note of companies that are weathering the storm. After all, if a business can survive the next few months, it may be a company to consider working for. Also, observe how they are responding to the pandemic. Follow them on social channels and in the media. Take note of how the leadership team deals with the crisis and its employees. Are they supporting workers or laying them off? As part of your job hunt, also consider setting up informational interviews via phone or Skype chat.
This is an unprecedented time, so it’s reasonable to ask questions related to the pandemic. First, find out what the interview process and timeline look like. Also, ask questions like:
Your job hunt should also include time to bolster your qualifications. If you lack a skill that is required in your dream job, now’s the time to make yourself the ideal candidate. That might mean taking an online course or getting a certification. Harvard and MIT offer some excellent online classes, many of which are free. If you’re not sure where to start, browse Udemy, which has one of the largest selection of online courses, with more than 100,000 video courses and new additions published every month.
The bottom line is that hiring is slowing down but, in many cases, hasn’t come to a grinding halt. There are still jobs out there. Be patient, persistent, and flexible. Just because some companies aren’t hiring now or have laid off employees doesn’t mean they won’t be recruiting in the future. By following these strategies, when they do start looking for top talent, you’ll be ready.