Whether you had been planning far in advance to reassess your career this year or if your job has suddenly become unstable because of coronavirus, you’re probably asking yourself the same question – is it even possible to find a new job right now?
To find out, I spoke with Amanda Augustine, career expert for TopResume, a resume-writing service. The short answer is yes, it is still possible to find a job now. Read on to find out Augustine’s tips for how to conduct a job search while sheltering in place.
Amanda Augustine, career expert for TopResume
Courtesy of Amanda Augustine
Roger ma: If you had been planning to make 2020 the year you make a job change, is that still possible?
Amanda Augustine: Absolutely. Companies are still hiring full-time employees for permanent positions; however, you’ll need to be strategic and focus on those organizations that are actively advertising new job listings. Some industries have been more adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic than others. If you’re searching for work in an industry where most companies were forced to close their doors and were unable to operate their business in an online environment, you can expect hiring to be halted for the foreseeable future. You certainly can either use this time to lay the groundwork for your job search so you can hit the ground running later in the year. Or, you can adjust your job goals and pursue opportunities that are currently available in other complementary fields.
The Benefits Of Job Searching Now
Roger ma: Are there any advantages to conducting a job search in the current environment?
Amanda Augustine: There are some advantages to conducting a job search during lockdown. If your days aren’t consumed with homeschooling your children while trying to juggle work, it can be easier to sneak in a phone call with a prospective employer or submit a few job applications during the work day when you’re not at the office. After all, if you’re working remotely, you can register for an online course or follow up on a job lead without fearing your boss will catch you in the act.
And, if the thought of making small talk at a networking event gives you hives, now you have a valid excuse for focusing on virtual networking opportunities that take place online or over the phone, rather than face-to-face.
While I’m sure many would prefer to have an in-person interview, this new remote environment has its advantages. If you’re doing a phone interview, you have the luxury of referencing notes you’ve prepared without the interviewer’s knowledge. Have a handy copy of the job description, the resume you used for your application, talking points about your qualifications, and a list of questions to ask your interviewers. In addition, you don’t have the added stress of worrying about your body language, eye contact, or having the ideal interview outfit when you’re interviewing over the phone.
Roger ma: What tips do you have for people looking to network while social distancing measures are in place?
Amanda Augustine: Thanks to modern technology, networking while under quarantine has never been easier. Between resources such as LinkedIn and 10times, and video-conferencing tools like Zoom, FaceTime, and Google Meet, you can still reconnect with your existing contacts, meet new people in your chosen field or industry via virtual events, and conduct informational interviews over the phone or through video calls. Start by looking at your first and second connections on LinkedIn and prioritizing those who currently work or previously worked in the field, industry, or for a company that interests you. Send an email or InMail message, text, or call the person to touch base. We may be forced to shelter in place, but that shouldn’t stop us from planning virtual coffee dates and other video-conference meetings from the comfort of our homes. If you’re looking to make new connections, sites like 10times and Eventbrite offer online networking events and job fairs you can attend and engage with others.
Roger ma: Are employers still interviewing candidates? What should people be mindful of in a video interview that’s different than in an in-person interview?
Amanda Augustine: Employers are still interviewing candidates, though their processes have changed to accommodate the stay-at-home orders. You can expect the entire interview process to take place over the phone and via video conference. When it comes to video interviews, be mindful of controlling your environment and treating the virtual meeting as though it were an in-person interview:
- Control your environment. In addition to properly preparing for your job interview, you have the added challenge of preparing the right space within your home for this important meeting. Find a spot in your home that’s quiet, clutter-free, and well-lit. Download any necessary software or updates ahead of time and test the equipment with a friend to ensure your lighting, audio volume, and the positioning of your camera is just right.
- Treat it like a face-to-face. The same rules apply for a video interview as they would during an in-person interview. You still need to dress as though you were interviewing at the company’s office — including your bottom half — with the company culture in mind. You still need to connect with your interviewers, even if they’re not sitting in the room with you. Be cognizant of your tone over the phone, mannerisms, and “eye contact” through the monitor.
Feasibility Of Major Job Changes
Roger ma: If someone was looking to make a drastic job transition, like a change of industry or a change in job type, is that transition still possible now or are employers only looking to fill positions with candidates that fit the exact qualifications outlined in the job posting?
Amanda Augustine: It may be challenging to make a career change right away, but it’s not impossible. You will need patience and persistence in your goals. This is actually a great opportunity to do a little soul-searching and determine the next right step in your career path. Use this time now to consider what you’re looking for in both your next position and your future employer. Then, start laying the groundwork for a successful search, such as updating your resume and LinkedIn profile and tapping into your network for help.
If you want to make a change but are unsure what you’d like to do, start by searching for people who have a similar background and have made a considerable career transition. This is a great way to determine what industries will value your unique skills and experience. Coordinate informational interview phone calls with professionals who work in jobs or industries that interest you, so you understand whether this is the right move for you and what it will take for you to make such a move. This may involve filling a skill or knowledge gap, and translating your experience into terms that prospective employers will appreciate.
Why You Should And Shouldn’t Be Job Searching
Roger ma: Have you heard of people wanting to look for a new job based on the way their current company has responded to COVID-19? What are instances where this may make sense, and situations where people should take a deep breath and keep plugging away?
Amanda Augustine: No one was prepared for the coronavirus pandemic, so it’s unrealistic to expect your employer to perfectly handle the situation from the beginning. However, some companies have done a better job than others at taking necessary precautions for its staff, being sensitive to the needs of its employees, and keeping everyone well-informed and connected throughout the crisis.
Bumbled communication, unclear plans for transitioning to a fully remote work environment, and/or a lack of access to proper tools can be frustrating, but are not necessarily reasons to call it quits.
However, if your company’s policies during COVID-19 reflect a set of values that you don’t share, perhaps it’s time to reconsider whether you want to stay with this company for the long-term. This could be anything from forcing employees to make the choice between avoiding a potentially hazardous environment or losing their jobs, to refusing to make allowances for employees who were without childcare during regular business hours.
How Long Your Job Search Could Take
Roger ma: According to an October 2018 survey by Randstad US, the average job search takes about five months. Is that still a reasonable expectation to have or should people recalibrate how long their job searches may take?
Amanda Augustine: It’s fair to assume that the average job search in 2020 will take longer than the time frame we saw in 2018. While there may be a shorter-than-average time-to-hire for those companies that are recruiting part-time and/or temporary workers to meet pandemic-specific demands, most companies will experience a slower hiring process over the next several months.
For example, some employers have announced hiring freezes on all non-essential workers until they have more clarity on when businesses will be allowed to open their doors again. Others have laid off employees, reduced their hours, or sent staff on furlough to cut costs. You can safely assume these companies will not be in a position to hire new staff for the foreseeable future, thus lengthening your time to land a job.
In addition, other businesses that are still filling permanent, full-time positions will likely experience a slower hiring process as they transition to a fully remote recruitment and onboarding process. With a lot of patience and perseverance, finding a new job in 2020 can soon be within your reach.