Over the past several months, I have been featured multiple times on The NRWA’s “Ask the Experts” pages. Most recently, COVID-19 job search issues have been a common theme. In this article, I’ve provided enhanced tips on COVID-19 job searching from the “Ask the Experts” site – from how to choose a target company to resume and interview advice.
COVID-19 Job Search – Choosing a Company
It can be tempting, especially in trying times like these, to take any reasonable position you are offered. But you need to make sure the company is a match for you. Is it the size you want? Is the culture a fit? Are employees happy? Does the leadership have integrity? Can you work remotely if needed? What type of training and supervision will you receive? Do you like your potential boss? All these questions are critical to your future happiness – whether or not we’re in a pandemic.
In a COVID-19 job search, also consider whether the company will be stable or even growing during a pandemic. You don’t want to set yourself up to be in another job search in a few months.
COVID-19 Job Search – Resume Issues
Is there anything in particular I need to do differently with my resume to prepare for the job market after COVID-19 subsides?
Keyword optimization for Applicant Tracking Software systems (ATS) is more essential than ever in a COVID-19 job search, since so many candidates are applying for each position.
While ATS systems are not always the best judge of a job match, they are a reality – especially in a COVID-19 job search. You must make sure your resume is compatible with ATS and that the software can read everything properly.
To give yourself the best chance of getting an interview, use a tool like JobScan, or hire a resume writer who has the tools to ensure your resume is formatted properly and is approximately an 80% match for the job. Read articles about ATS to learn more!
Also, if you lost your job due to COVID-19 and are still looking, take this time (if you can) to beef up your resume with a certification or by volunteering your skills to an organization in need. Anything you do to make yourself more marketable and contribute to the world will be seen favorably during this time. Most employers will understand previously unheard-of titles like “home-school kindergarten teacher” which might not have been seen with as much empathy pre-COVID.
Potential employers will also understand if you have a job end date of March 2020; they will assume there was a COVID-19 layoff. But after 6 months, if you have not done any work-related activity or been consumed by caring for family, there could start to be a negative connotation. So stay active as much as you can.
COVID-19 Job Search – Interview Tips
Keep in mind that you will stand out by NOT making some common interview mistakes. Dress professionally, arrive on time, and be nice to the receptionist. Prepare, prepare, prepare – meaning research the company, know the background of your interviewers, and read the company website top to bottom. Answer questions directly and concisely. And write a thank you note!
If your interview is conducted by video, which it often is during a COVID-19 job search, make sure you have a well-lit and clear background, that your sound is clear and that you will not be interrupted. Dress (and for women, put on make-up) just as if you were going to attend an interview in person. Show up early, just as if you were coming to the interview in person (you never know what technological difficulties might arise). Be polite to any administrative staff helping with the interview set-up – just as if you were interviewing in person! Do you pick up on a theme here?
Seems like no one is hiring right now. Should I still bother to send out my resume or wait for the coronavirus outbreak to subside?
If you google “companies hiring coronavirus,” you will discover that many organizations actually ARE hiring now due to an increase in demand for their services. While the competition for these jobs might be high, it’s definitely worth continuing your search. You might be forced to pivot into a new industry or new version of what you used to do. This is definitely a time where creativity is called for in some fields.
Most of all, keep getting support and know that there is a way to succeed in a COVID-19 job search. And I’ll be here to support you in any way I can!
A version of this article also appears in Executive Secretary Magazine, a global training publication and must read for any administrative professional. You can get a 30% discount when you subscribe through us. Visit the website at executivesecretary.com to find out more or to get your 30% discount, email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell them we sent you.