Navigating the Job Market During and After COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world upside down on many fronts. 

Maybe your finances took a hit. Perhaps you lost your job and had to file for unemployment. Possibly your health was personally affected by the virus. According to a Pew Research Center survey published in September 2020, “25% of U.S. adults say they or someone in their household was laid off or lost their job because of the coronavirus outbreak, with 15% saying this happened to them personally.”

It doesn’t matter if you’re navigating the job market now or plan on doing so in a post-pandemic world; you must have a strategy in place. Taking the “same old” approach is likely to lead to the “same old” results — and if that happens, your frustration will continue to grow until you follow some of these tips for finding a job.

Tips for Finding a Job During or After COVID-19

While no two people take the same approach to finding a job, there are general tips that anyone can follow during this time. Here are seven tips that will allow you to conduct a more efficient job search, either during or after COVID-19.

  • Create a Killer Resume

Creating a highly effective resume has always been a challenge for job seekers. However, in today’s day and age, this is even more so the case. You can’t afford to do anything that puts you in a bad light. 

More companies than ever before are using technology to collect and review resumes. Taking this one step further, some companies use applicant tracking systems to complete a critical review before it reaches a human. In other words, a computer judges your qualifications. 

During this automatic review, this software looks for specific keywords related to the job. 

Not only should your resume provide the right information in an easy to digest format, but you must also write it with the goal of passing through applicant tracking systems by including some of these keywords. 

In addition to finding ways to impress applicant tracking systems, it’s essential to find ways to stand out and impress company hiring managers.

  • Find Ways to Stand Out

Some simple ways to stand out in your application include:

  • Customize your resume: Even when two jobs appear identical, this isn’t always the case. Tailor your resume to suit the job for which you’re applying. It takes extra time, but it’s well worth it. 
  • Keep it concise: The last thing a recruiter or hiring manager wants to do is review a long resume that’s difficult to follow. Keep it clear and concise (never more than one page). 
  • Focus on appearance: The appearance of your resume can impact the way it’s read. Consider everything from the font size and style to the spacing and color choices. If a resume looks sloppy, it could end up in the trash pile before someone reviews it. 
  • Submit a cover letter: Unless expressly noted otherwise, always include a customized cover letter with your resume.

Upon completion of your resume, proofread it a minimum of two times. For those who are extra cautious, it doesn’t hurt to have someone else read it over to gain an outside perspective, a hiring manager might have, as well.

If they’ve reviewed your application without contacting you, a personal follow-up is still one of the best ways to stand above the rest of the candidates in the hiring pool. Although there is no guarantee for employment by doing so, it’s just one of the ways you can stand out and make yourself available. 

  • Make Yourself Available

You can’t secure employment if you’re slow to communicate with the hiring company. And for that reason, it’s critical to make yourself available.

To start, you should always answer your phone— even if you don’t know the number. In doing so, you may run into some scam phone calls, and although they are annoying, it’s better to be safe than sorry when navigating the job market — be sure you’re ready in case the person on the other end is indeed trying to scam you. The same holds for your email inbox. Check it several times per day, carefully combing through every email before deleting it. 

During a job search, answering your phone and checking your email is a necessity. If you don’t get back to a recruiter or hiring manager promptly, they’ll move on to the next candidate. They’ll be critical of all applications, and so should you while navigating the job market.

  • Beware of Scams 

It’s unfortunate, but many people are using the COVID-19 pandemic to scam people out of money (and waste their time). As a job seeker, you’re anxious to find your next position, making you more vulnerable to a scam, such as an email that offers a “high paying” work at home position.

According to a recent article published by CNBC, job scams have increased since the start of the pandemic. Some of these scams include: 

  • Fraudulent employment and recruiting agencies 
  • Overseas work
  • Multi-level marketing schemes 

Trust your gut and vet every career opportunity before you get in too deep. If an opportunity sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 

  • Keep an Open Mind

Although you should be careful when applying to any position to avoid scams, it’s also essential to keep an open mind. Most are usually too selective when applying for jobs, only responding to positions that look like a “dream job.” However, when it comes to finding employment during a challenging period— such as a pandemic— stay amenable.

For example, if you’ve been a sales manager your entire career, it’s natural to gravitate toward a similar job title and responsibilities this time around. But if you’re unable to find work in this capacity, there’s nothing wrong with applying for sales development representative jobs. Just remember this: just because you take a job right now doesn’t mean you have to remain in the position for the rest of your life. 

When you keep an open mind, you’ll be amazed at the number of opportunities you encounter. If you keep an open mind, you can unlock a whole new world of possibilities, but when doing so, it’s essential to avoid some inevitable mistakes

  • Avoid the Top Job Hunting Mistakes

Above, we outlined five tips for finding a job during (or after) the pandemic. These points of advice should help you formulate a plan for securing your next position.

While following these tips, there are various job-hunting mistakes to avoid at all costs. Here are five:

  • Applying for the ill-fitted jobs: Yes, you want to remain flexible and keep an open mind. But even so, you’re only going to get so far when you apply for jobs that don’t suit your experience, skillset, and career goals. 
  • Neglecting your network: There are many ways to find open positions, including your network. Reach out to former co-workers, supervisors, clients, and others to share your situation and ask for advice. You never know when you’ll get in touch with someone who can point you toward an open position.
  • Having a poor attitude: It’s critical to keep a positive outlook on your job search. Although a positive outlook may be hard to find during a pandemic, not doing so can significantly reduce your chance of securing employment. 
  • Neglecting to prepare for the next steps: It’s one thing to apply for a job, but another thing entirely to beat out the competition and land the position. It is why you should prepare for the next steps in the process, which includes at least one interview. When you do this, you’ll be confident in your ability to handle anything that comes your way.
  • Being too demanding: A typical example is being overbearing during your first conversation with a recruiter or hiring manager. Don’t make demands or tell them what you want. Again, keep an open mind and let the conversation naturally evolve. Nobody wants to take the risk of hiring someone who is demanding. There’s a greater chance that the relationship won’t end well.

If you’re able to avoid these job-hunting mistakes, you’ll feel better about your chances of finding open opportunities, positioning yourself for success, and eventually receiving a job offer. 

Remember, it only takes one mistake to make the hiring company think twice about contacting you. 

  • Consider Starting a Business

You may not need to worry about job-searching mistakes if COVID-19 has derailed your intended career path altogether — in fact, it may be time to take full control over your future and start a business.

As you compare the pros and cons of entrepreneurship and employment, it’ll become clearer if now’s the time to start your dream business. Right now, some of the most significant benefits of becoming your boss include:

  • More control over your future: When you’re the boss, you don’t have concerns about being laid off. While it’s stressful to hold your future in your hands, it’s also exciting. 
  • More flexibility: The pandemic has taught many people the real importance of balancing their careers and personal lives. You’ll work a lot of hours getting your business off the ground, but you’ll have flexibility while doing so. It allows you to spend more time with your family and on activities outside the office. 
  • Plenty of opportunities: Even if you only start a side hustle, there are plenty of opportunities to make money. 

Only you know if now’s the time to start a business. Even if it’s not your first choice, take a closer look at the benefits. You may be surprised at what you find. 

Final Thoughts

The COVID-19 outbreak has impacted the job market and economy in countless ways. Some companies have closed down entirely. Others have resorted to mass layoffs, and many tried to manage by shuffling employee responsibilities.

Should you find yourself navigating the job market now or shortly, there are tips you can follow to tilt the scales in your favor.