There is no question that how a Job Seeker approaches a search has changed significantly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. What individuals did or focused on just a year ago, prior to the pandemic, may not be nearly as effective or relevant during these difficult times.
It is important for Job Seekers to recognize some of the decisions and changes that they have to make, so that they are prepared to make the necessary adjustments. By conducting this exercise, it will be readily apparent to the Job Seeker just how much has changed. Let’s examine some of these key items that have become tied to the COVID-19 era.
- Decide That You Are Committed to Your Job Search: This may seem like an odd item to start with, but the federal government has created a situation where some laid off individuals are in a dilemma. The federal government has put in place a 100% COBRA subsidy, along with enhanced and tax-free unemployment benefits. While this has certainly assisted those in need, it has also created a situation where many are not starting their search until these benefits wind down. In my view, this is exactly why you WANT to be in your job search. You face a situation where you will have less competition, along with an eager to hire employer. This is a scenario that may be much different when unemployment benefits begin to expire and many attempt to re-enter the workforce.
- Prepare for Virtual Events: The days of wowing someone in-person is currently dormant. More likely, you will be participating in a Virtual or Drive Through Job Fair with one specific company, rather than an in-person event consisting of many employers. Your interviewing will most likely also be remote, ranging from a phone screen to a video interview using a format such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams. It is imperative that you practice for remote discussions, which most people consider harder to master due to the more impersonal greeting and the lack of in-person view of body language.
- Don’t Be Defensive of Work History: The continuity of a candidate’s work history has become much less of an issue with so many people unemployed. You are less likely to be asked about gaps in employment, especially those that may have occurred recently. This will allow you to be much more focused on selling your skills and experience. Furthermore, anytime a person is less defensive, they will be more relaxed and will overall present themselves much better.
- Refresh Your Cover Letter: For years I have been stating to not overlook the often maligned Cover Letter. With Recruiters struggling to find candidates in many occupations, they have found themselves with more time to review a candidate’s Cover Letter and Resume. They are also having to focus much more on those with transferable skills rather than direct experience, so the Cover Letter is a great way for a Job Seeker to make this point.
- Be Flexible Regarding Physical Work Requirements: Many Hiring Managers are finding themselves fielding a laundry list of demands from candidates. These may range from remote work expectations to scheduling needs. A candidate who is flexible and willing to work in a variety of different scenarios will be a breath of fresh air and provide themselves a definite competitive advantage.
- Focus on Local, Social Media, and Networking: Due to the state of the overall economy, many WNY employers are refraining from using the expensive national websites to advertise their positions. They are turning to the much more economical WNYJOBS.com, while relying on word-of mouth either thru traditional networking or social media interaction. Be sure to let your key contacts know that you are actively seeking a new position. You should also try to follow and/or connect with key employers or recruiters in the area via social media, so that you are in the loop regarding possible job opportunities.
The tasks and strategy of job searching has constantly evolved over the last 20-years, but nothing like the complete upheaval of the last calendar year. In many ways, the playing field has been leveled, as all Job Seekers are navigating a new world with completely different rules than what was anticipated. A savvy Job Seeker will review the adjustments that are noted above, and make the necessary changes to be successful.
As always, best of luck in your job search.
The following has been prepared for the general information of WNYJobs readers. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.
WNY Human Resources Professional
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