6 Critical Steps to Finding a Job During a Pandemic
Sadly over 25 million people have lost their jobs either temporarily or permanently due to Covid19. Many of those jobs won’t be coming back. But this is not the first time Americans have been hit with economic downturns resulting in job losses.
I graduated from the University of Missouri in 1983. Like many late-stage baby boomers, I expected to return home to St. Louis to find a job with my fresh new degree. But St. Louis was a rust-belt city hard hit by the 1981 recession and we were in the midst of Reaganomics— an expansive fiscal policy based on supply-side economics that the International Monetary Fund writes would not work today. I’ve also been through the Dot-Com Bust and the 2008 recession, so I’ve had opportunities to learn a few job-hunting tips worth sharing.
Step 1) Cry, Drink, Smoke Pot or Whatever You Need to Self Soothe
Everyone deserves to feel sorry for themselves when they lose a job. It’s natural to feel bad about your lousy luck. You can give yourself no more than one week to moan and groan. One week. And then it’s time to get to work.
Step 2) Evaluate Your Career
Unless you have just graduated from school, now is the time to think about what you want to do for the next two to five years. Many people may advise you to jump to it and start applying for jobs. That’s not necessarily wrong, particularly if you don’t have money saved to cover rent, car payments and other basic expenses. But this is a good time to evaluate where you are at and where you want to be. Did you like the job you lost? Was the salary what you expected or wanted? If you are answering “no,” then it is time to think about your career.
Work with a friend or an expert to strategize what job you want to have in five years and how to get there. Perhaps this is the right time to try to move up by going to a competitor to see if this company wants your knowledge and expertise. Maybe you hate what you are doing and it’s time to go in a completely different direction. You may face a pay cut, but I believe if you are doing what you love, the money will come. Take time to do this important work before heading to the next step.
Step 3) Update Resume, Portfolio, and All Social Media Sites, Particularly LinkedIn
You are going to compete against lots of people for a new job, much more than usual. You need to know what job you want so you can build a standout resume. Few people know how to create a great resume. You will need help, particularly if you have decided to make a job change. Ask a knowledgeable friend to review your resume and provide comments. Consider getting the help of a professional head hunter or resume writer. Don’t be cheap. This is the most important one or two pieces of paper you will need. And make certain you have someone proofread it. No grammatical mistakes or typos. You may need more than one resume given the different type of jobs you have decided to seek. And don’t forget to have a good cover letter. Naturally, you will customize it for each job, and having one to start with will make this job easier.
If you are in a creative field, update your portfolio or website with your latest work as it’s probably some of the best you have done. If you don’t have a site, build one quickly because any hiring manager will want to see the level and style of your creativity. But don’t wait. Keep applying and let companies know you can provide a PDF of your portfolio while the site is being updated. Make certain your site reflects a wide range of work.
Also, update any business-oriented social media sites. Make certain your LinkedIn page is fresh and positions you for the job you want. Anyone who sees your resume and considers interviewing you first will check you out on LinkedIn.
Step 4) Start Searching
Everyone knows how to search for jobs on the different sites, such a LinkedIn. You will need to be careful about applying to a job that draws hundreds of applicants. How will you make it to the top of the candidate pool? Unfortunately, you must be perfect for that job because most companies are using a resume review product such as Indeed, which will throw your resume out if you don’t match the requirements exactly. You will need to think about how you can get around this obstacle.
Step 5) Update Your Contact List
You should try to have a contact at every company to which you apply. You need that person to send a note and your resume to the hiring manager. Also, sometimes a job is not really open. Many companies are legally required to post every job, even if they already have an inside candidate to fill it.
You should spend at least a day every week working on your contacts. Don’t be afraid to ask for 15 minutes to chat with an important new contact. Some people are really bored, and having a new person to talk to can make the day different. Plus, people love to feel like they are experts in their field and love to talk about themselves. Have your questions prepared in advance and be conscious of time. This is the time you must be a good salesperson no matter what type of job you seek because you are selling yourself. As people no longer trust references, having someone you know make the introduction is crucial.
If you see a company you would like to work for but that has no jobs open, still make a contact there. Offer to do small jobs on a freelance basis, as most likely the department is understaffed and getting an additional hire at this time is difficult. Become part of the team and you will be the first one hired when a position opens.
Step 6) Take Online Courses
Nothing is worse that having another empty day go by when you are job hunting, so you need to use that time productively. As you look at the jobs you want, see what skills you are missing. I always tell my marketing communications people to take a PR class so they have a better understanding of this skill set and the role PR plays in the sales process. Plus hiring managers are impressed to see that you have used your free time productively.
Now that you have a road map, get out there and start looking for a new job.