There's no way to sugarcoat it: finding a job these days can be challenging. With the health crisis and a recession going on — no thanks to the pandemic — many have suffered incredible losses to their livelihood with some being hit harder than others. Today, furloughs and pay cuts have become common practices for companies to salvage their businesses and these in turn impacted personal career trajectories and our quality of life.
But take heart because hope is not lost. Companies that are hiring still exist even in a tough job market. To help you navigate this tumultuous time in your career, we sought some tips from Maria Carol Andal, a recruiter and talent acquisition specialist on how to get a job during this coronavirus season.
Network and market yourself
Networking is something that a lot of people are averse to. But in this job market situation, it's something that you could consider because you'll never know where you're gonna score a good job. "Gone are the days when an application is just a click away," Carol said. "Utilise job platforms like LinkedIn, GlassDoor, and Kalibrr for example. These platforms allow you to showcase your skill set and present your edge compared to other applicants. Join groups, discussions and expand your market so you may be presented with better options. All of this will surely contribute to your personal and career successes."
Make your application stand out
The first thing you need to do to get your foot in the door is to make your application stand out from the rest. Now, more than ever when face-to-face interaction is limited, your introductory e-mail, resume and portfolio should be spotless. One common mistake applicants do? Sending an attached resume — and nothing else. "Most candidates fail to market themselves by just sending a plain old e-mail without a subject and a body. That is a huge mistake since you want hiring managers to notice you," Carol said.
So what should you write about? "Highlight your most relevant experience while making sure you include hard and soft skills to better market yourself. Make sure to include a quick overview of your job description and professional accomplishments," she shared, adding that it's important not to oversell and to make your e-mail and resume concise. If you have the time to make one, Carol said that a creative resume can help an application stand out from the rest. You can try free online platforms like ResumeBuilder.
Acing a virtual interview
Congratulations! You got yourself a virtual interview. Now how do you ace it? First things first: troubleshoot. "Check your technology and internet connection beforehand so everything goes smoothly as planned," she said. This is very important as having a "laggy" interview can be detrimental to your application. So take a few minutes before an interview to test with a friend and make sure that everything's good to go. Also, "make sure you’re in a well-lit, clean place free of interruptions and background noises," Carol added.
For a good first impression, the same best practices in a traditional interview setting still apply. Virtual or not, here are key things to remember in an interview, according to Carol:
- Always be punctual. This shows how well you value other people’s time.
- Practice, practice and more practice. It goes a long way. Research common interview questions and practise your answers in front of a mirror or even to an actual person.
- Confidence is key. Most successful people fly high in life because of their confidence. Instead of doubting yourself, work on raising your self-confidence to reach your objectives.
- Ask questions. Your queries indicate your interest in the job.
Explaining your dismissal
It's no secret that many people have been furloughed and laid off as a result of the recession. The question is, how do you explain this to a potential employer in a positive manner? The good news is: in many cases, being dismissed does not take away your viability as a candidate.
"Being laid off or furloughed isn’t something to be ashamed about. In fact, hiring managers don’t really put weight on this since it’s involuntary. The best way you can explain dismissal is to just be honest," Carol said. "You want hiring managers to empathise with your situation all the while explaining to them why you’ll be a value to the company if they do hire you."
But then she cautioned about letting ill feelings spill during the interview. "Another important thing to remember is to not badmouth your previous company. We all know this pandemic has turned our lives to some degree and although it’s a hard pill to swallow, it’s a decision that had to be made."
Hone new skill sets in the meantime
Landing a job during a pandemic can take some time. Meanwhile, while you bide your time, Carol said honing a new skill can be something that's valuable to potential employers. Transferable skills such as creative writing and technology literacy, such as getting yourself familiar with photo and video editing softwares, are always a plus. "Don’t be afraid to try new things or make a career shift. Use this time to improve your skill set and learn to sell yourself," she said. It will also be an interesting way to explain what you have been doing during a gap in your resume.
Believe that you will bounce back
Losing a job and re-entering a hyper-competitive job market does not just put a strain in wallets, but it can also chip away our self-esteem. But in this uncontrollable scenario, have faith that you will get your "groove" back. "I’ve been there and I know how it feels," shared Carol. "While it’s human to feel down at times, you should know when to bounce back and actually do something. Optimism can help you cope with job loss and can improve your growth mindset."
Feeling stressed lately? Being a plant parent might help.