Job hunting during a pandemic: 6 tips
Just a couple of short months ago, the majority of us were going about our lives and careers as normal.
Today, it’s hard to escape the influx of news, articles, and commentary of the global spread of Covid-19. Job hunters – like the rest of the population – are going through an uncertain time, and we are all finding our feet and adjusting to the new normal.
For people who were previously contemplating a role – or even an entire career – change, it’s difficult to know just how much this outbreak will impact their plans. While certain industries are still hiring in even greater numbers, there is no denying that market uncertainty has led to some recruitment being frozen, and some job offers even being revoked.
Of course, people’s health and wellbeing is our first priority at the moment. But for those who were set on making a career move before to outbreak, what should they focus on at the moment? Is it just a case of sitting tight and waiting for the storm to pass, or are there things they could work on right now?
Here are 6 top tips for those looking for a new job during a pandemic:
- Know what you’re aiming for
During uncertain times, it can be tempting to take a scattergun approach to job hunting – throwing lots of applications out there and seeing what sticks. Untailored and unfocused applications are a sure-fire way to wind up with a lot of rejections, which can cause your self-confidence and motivation to take a real hit.
Write a clear list of what you’re ideally looking for in your next job. List your non-negotiables, your ‘nice to haves’, and what you want to avoid. To help with this, reflect on what specifically you have and haven’t enjoyed in previous roles. What do you want to start, stop, and continue in your next job?
- Create a written action plan
Many professionals are working from home full-time at the moment. With existing commitments in the form of our current job, home-schooling, and caring for loved ones – looking for a job can be hard to prioritise. If a new job is something you are committed to, you need to reflect and write down your action plan.
The most commons concern people have with creating a plan on their own is “I don’t know where to start!”. Sometimes it doesn’t matter exactly where you start - there is no one magic formula towards job hunting. But you do need to start somewhere, and we are so much more likely to achieve things we write down.
Write down your big end goal, as well as key milestones and actions you want to complete on the way. You might want to work on your CV, research current vacancies online, or follow some of the tips below on networking. Whatever you decide to do, write down your next steps and most importantly – block out time in your diary to do it.
- Reconnect with old contacts
Whether you are looking for a new role immediately, or at some point in the future, career moves are helped by having strong professional relationships. Start by reaching out and reconnecting with old friends and colleagues. Do so with the genuine intention of reconnecting and checking in with them, rather with the sole objective of wanting a job.
Be mindful of the context in which you are reaching out – you don’t know how the pandemic may have impacted them personally. Express a genuine interest in how they are doing in your communication, and reflect on what you have to offer to help reconnecting feel reciprocal, rather than transactional.
- Proactively extend your network
We’re often told “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. I would challenge this and say it’s not just about who you already know, it’s about who you meet and how you nurture these relationships. Very few people are gifted with a large, active network. Your network has to be worked on consistently and proactively.
Write a long list of your ideal employers and check your LinkedIn network to see if you are already connected with anyone that works there. Ask friends and trusted connections for new introductions, and ask considered and curious questions that will enhance your commercial awareness and build a rapport with employees.
As with checking in with your existing network, be sensitive to the current situation and think what you may be able to offer to the person you’re contacting. This could be a genuine and specific compliment to work they have visible, and offer to introduce them to someone in your network, or engaging with their content on LinkedIn.
- Focus on personal development
Times of huge changes are often times of reflection. If you could wave a magic wand and improve your skillset in a particular area, what would it be? Presenting? Networking? Public speaking? Interview answers? Your personal brand? Decide one or two specific areas for development, and brainstorm ways you can improve them over the next few weeks.
If you want to get better at something involving communication, find a friend who also wants to improve something, and practice giving and receiving feedback through observing each other. If you can’t face practicing with someone else, record yourself practicing on your phone, and write down your reflections afterwards.
There are many great online courses on everything ranging from coding, leadership, networking, and public speaking – some of which are now available for free during the pandemic. Do your research - particularly for paid courses - and make sure you block out the time to finish what you start.
- Manage your mindset
If you are going to convince a someone to hire you either now or in the future, you need to be confident enough to get your best self across at interview. It’s not easy to stay positive when looking for a job – even without the added anxiety the current situation can cause.
Focus on what you can control, and take responsibility for managing your mindset as best you can. This doesn’t mean feeling happy all of the time, but it means doing what you can to focus your brain on what you want to focus on.
Rather than focusing on the problem (“I don’t have a job/career that makes me happy”), focus on possible solutions (“What can I do today that might help me get a job that makes me happy?”).
Write down your achievements at the end of the day - even if they are simple ones - or write down 3 things you are greatful for.
Make time to look after yourself. Whether this is through meditation, FaceTiming friends and family, or getting an early night, remember that you are not facing this pandemic alone.
Take control of what you can in your job search, and most importantly - stay safe.
Hannah is a qualified executive coach, career consultant and former corporate recruiter. She spent the first eight years of her career recruiting graduate talent for leading international corporations, including telecoms giant BT and elite law firm Allen & Overy
In 2017 she transitioned to a career in coaching and professional development, specialising in helping people achieve ambitious career goals. Through her one-to-one coaching programmes, she helps people develop the skills, confidence and awareness to secure their dream job.