10 job search tips for the COVID era

Resume next to laptop and pen on counter

Have you been downsized, let go, or “furloughed” for an indefinite amount of time as a result of the coronavirus pandemic? Join the party. Over 36 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits since the coronavirus tore through the United States, shuttering businesses in its wake. We haven’t seen this level of unemployment since The Great Depression. Gulp.

The job market is tough, but that just means you are going to have to work harder and smarter to snag that next great job opportunity. Yes, companies are still hiring, and there are good jobs to be found. Here are the 10 ob search tips you need to implement, starting now to get back to work.

1. Give your resume a serious refresh

You’re not going to impress anybody with that old resume that doesn’t even include your last job. Blow off the dust and give it a nice, sparkling refresh. Add your most recent jobs and any new skills you’ve picked up along the way. The folks over at Career Sidekick also suggest:

  • Switch out your passé objective statement for a personal statement that tells your story
  • Put the most relevant information at the top of your resume
  • Add concrete numbers and percentages to express your accomplishment

With a strong, focused resume in your pocket, you’ll be able to jump on any good job opportunity as soon as you spot it.

2. Clean up your LinkedIn profile

When it comes to all things career-related, LinkedIn is where it’s at. With over 675 million monthly users and 30 million company accounts, the networking-focused social media site has some heft.  

To start, give your LinkedIn profile the same cleanup as your resume. Next, take a look at these 20 great suggestions LinkedIn offers for updating your profile, including:

  • Choosing a current and professional profile pic
  • Adding a snazzy new background photo
  • Turning your summary into a story
  • Creating a compelling headline

3. Start looking for jobs

LinkedIn is a great place to spend time networking (more on that next), but nothing beats actually applying for jobs. Before you get into the more subtle career search moves, start with the low-hanging fruit. That means visiting the big job site aggregators and looking for open positions in your field(s) of expertise.

Our good friends over at Career Sidekick have helpfully put together a list of the best job listing websites, including:

Extra Credit: Don’t forget to check any professional organizations or publications in your field for job listings.

4. Make friends on LinkedIn (and say hello to your existing friends)

The big not-so-secret secret of the job hiring world is that a majority of jobs—as many as 85% of all positions—are filled through networking, not by sending your resume to an open position. That means your friends, family members, and old co-workers could be the ticket to your next great job.

How do you figure out who may be able to help you in your job search? LinkedIn, of course. Take a look at where all your current connections work. If their employer sparks your interest, reach out to your friend and ask for an introduction to their HR department. Don’t stop there. Oftentimes it isn’t about who you know. It’s about who your friends know. Search for companies you want to work for and then see if you can find any secondary or even third level connections among your LinkedIn friends. This is where LinkedIn really shines and where you can start making valuable connections.

Extra Credit: Devout time every week to growing your LinkedIn network. Search out people you have an actual connection with and who might be willing to refer you to their friends or their company.

5. Level up with upskilling

Not sure you have what it takes to snag that dream job? Then start training your tail off, Rocky Balboa style, to get the skills you need to impress the heck out of hiring managers. Fortunately, the internet exists, and it is absolutely filled with free and low-cost courses in nearly every field.

Sherpadesk offers up this great list of 7 free online skill-building resources, including:

If all else fails, check out YouTube. You can find tutorial videos on nearly everything, from how to build remodel a kitchen to mastering any software known to mankind.

Extra credit: Make sure to update your resume with every new skill you learn and every course you complete.

6. Follow the leader

It’s time to go beyond just searching for a job to pay the bills and begin positioning yourself for a long-term career. Start by identifying the leaders in your chosen industry. These are the men and women you would wish to be your personal mentors if you had a magic lamp.

Follow them on your favorite social media channels, and especially on LinkedIn. When appropriate, comment on their posts, articles, and other endeavors. You don’t want to come off as a suck-up, but you do want to show your support.

This effort may never lead to a specific job, but it will give you insight into the top minds in the field. That will impress future hiring managers. Also, you never know what could happen. The industry leader may reach out to you or post about an opportunity that is perfect for you.

7. Build your brand

Let’s get proactive. Instead of just looking for a job, position yourself so that the jobs come to you. It’s time to build your personal brand. You’ve already started to do that by following the leaders in your industry and getting their attention with your thoughtful comments.

Now, take it up a notch. Start posting your own thoughts about your industry on your social media pages, especially on your LinkedIn page. Share industry-relevant articles and the posts from thought leaders in your field.

Consider:

  • Starting a blog
  • Writing an article on Medium or directly on LinkedIn
  • Writing a guest article for an industry publication or a thought leader’s website
  • Creating a webinar
  • Writing a white paper
  • Writing an ebook
  • Sitting on a panel at a virtual or conference (or even an in-person conference when those come back)

Any of these things are sure to get you noticed. Hiring managers will be impressed, and you may even get noticed by headhunters.

8. Rinse and repeat

Even when you’re doing everything right, you probably won’t see results immediately, especially if you are looking for a highly specialized position. Keep it up. Check back with the job boards every day. New positions come in all the time. Keep reaching out to your connections and adding new connections on your LinkedIn and other social media pages. Keep posting good content. Keep commenting on the posts of industry leaders and sharing their content.

Eventually, all your work will pay off.

9. Apply for jobs slightly above your current role 

See a great new job opening but worry that you aren’t quite qualified for it? Maybe the employer wants a degree you don’t have or a few more years of experience. According to Julia Malacoff of Glassdoor.com, it’s fine to apply for a job as long as you meet most of the criteria. “That’s because more than ever, employers are looking for potential rather than exact match, which means there are jobs that you may seem “underqualified” for that you absolutely should take the time to apply for,” Julia explains.

When employers create job descriptions, they often write them for a perfect job candidate that never appears. Don’t be intimidated. If you have at least some of the experience and skills they want, apply. Most businesses are willing to train people who have the right attitude.

And, at the end of the day, what do you have to lose except a little bit of time?

10. Take care of yourself

Being unemployed isn’t a vacation. It’s stressful and frustrating, and looking for a job can often be as challenging and time-consuming as… well, an actual job. Make sure you take the time to care for yourself throughout this process. Keep in mind that you’re also living through an unprecedented pandemic that is making all of us more than a little nutty.

Add self-care actions into your day, like:

  • A morning affirmation
  • A mid-day meditation
  • An evening walk or yoga session
  • A nightly bath
  • An hour of reading before bed

Dr. Tchiki Davis offers 12 more great self-care tips over at Psychology Today. Give them a read.

Don’t give up

Times are tough, but so are you! These 10 job search tips will help you focus your job search and start building the foundation you need—like creating a strong referral network and forming your personal brand—for lifelong career success. You can do this. Start with tip one and work your way down the list of job search tips, incorporating plenty of self-care as you go.

And, to leave you on a high note, here’s a little light at the end of the tunnel. Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, was quoted on May 14th on CNBC as saying, “With most states only beginning to ease their lockdowns within the last 10 days, we expect a much bigger swing in hiring versus firing over the next couple of weeks…”

Businesses will soon be opening back up and will be eager to hire new employees. Get ready!