How to Handle a Job Search During a Pandemic

Woman using laptop at home
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If you’ve lost your job due to COVID-19 or were in the middle of a job hunt when the coronavirus hit, don’t panic—and don’t give up job searching.

Even though it can be challenging, there are ways you can successfully look for work during a pandemic. Some industries are cutting back, but others are hiring.

Some organizations will need more workers than in the past, and they may need to get them onboard quickly.

Search Indeed for “urgently hiring” or "hiring immediately" and your location to view immediate openings. Do the same with hashtags #nowhiring or "hiring" on LinkedIn and social media sites. That will give you a sense of what jobs are in demand in your location.

Below are some tips for job hunting during a pandemic.

Check Your Benefits

Before you start looking for work, be sure that you’re collecting any job loss benefits to which you’re entitled. Check with your human resources department or manager for details on what’s available.

You may be eligible for unemployment benefits. If you’ve lost your job because of COVID-19, expanded unemployment insurance may be available.

The federal government, state governments, and some employers are providing additional unemployment compensation for affected employees. Standard state unemployment benefits are already in place.

In most states, you can apply for benefits online. Check with your state unemployment office website for eligibility and benefit guidelines.

Get Ready to Job Search

Update your resume and LinkedIn profile. If you haven’t had to look for work in a while, take some time to update your resume and LinkedIn. Be sure to tweak your resume for the job you want each time you apply.

Write a cover letter. Also, take the time to write a cover letter each time you apply for a job. It will help your application get noticed. Not writing one could hurt your chances of getting hired. CareerBuilder reports that 10% of surveyed employers said not including a cover letter was an instant deal-breaker.

Be Aware of the Job Market

Not every occupation and industry will be affected in the same way. The Washington Post reports that the first layoffs related to coronavirus hit the job market in March.

Companies in travel, food services, hospitality, and event planning have been especially hard hit, as well as those headquartered in areas that experienced the first cases. On the other hand, the healthcare field is hiring, as are grocery stores and cleaning services.  

Workers shouldn’t assume that their industry isn’t hiring.

However, industries like online shopping and delivery have surged, and essential services like healthcare and warehousing are hiring rapidly to meet demand. Some jobs are booming, and employers are actively recruiting candidates for employment.

Amazon is hiring for 175,000 new full and part-time positions across the U.S. in its fulfillment centers and delivery network to meet the demand from people relying on its service.

Walmart has hired 200,000 new associates to work in stores, clubs, distribution centers, and fulfillment centers. These roles will be temporary, but may convert to permanent roles over time.

The company is also implementing a new process expedite hiring for key roles, such as cashiers and stockers. The typical two-week application cycle will be reduced to a 24-hour process.

Job Search Online

During a traditional job search, it can be important to job search and network in person as well as online. In the current climate, however, you'll want to focus on searching and applying for jobs online on the top job sites, social media, and directly on company websites.

Find and keep track of new job postings quickly and simply by:

  • Taking the time to organize your job search. It will make the process smoother.
  • Setting up job alerts, so you are notified about new postings as soon as they are listed.
  • Using hashtags to expedite your job search.

Consider Work-from-Home Options

With the general uncertainty of a pandemic, you may find yourself in a situation where you absolutely can’t work outside the home. Perhaps you suddenly have young children at home because their schools have been closed indefinitely.

Or, maybe you yourself have underlying health issues that would make you highly susceptible to infection should you leave your house.

The good news is that, if you have an internet connection, you have the capability to search and land work-from-home jobs that will at least supplement your income (and, depending upon your professional skill set, you may even find a work-from-home job that is just as lucrative as your old job).

Check out these tips for finding work-at-home jobs that are hiring now.

Search Top Job Sites

Get started by typing keyword phrases such as “work at home,” “freelance,” or “telecommute” into one of the top job sites.

Search Remote, Niche, and Gig Job Sites

Use websites that list gig jobs, and niche sites like FlexJobs that focus on remote positions. FlexJobs has a list of 20 full remotely companies that are hiring now, as well as a list of the top 100 companies with remote jobs. 

Check out Torch Capital Talent Connect. You can add yourself to the database of people looking for work and access job listings for laid off workers.

Also try HelpOneBillion. The site has over 500,000 job postings from companies who want to hire quickly to fill the positions.

Be Ready to Offer Solutions

This is a challenging time for employers as well as workers. If you can show the hiring manager that you’ve got what it takes to help the company succeed, you’ll increase your chances of getting hired.

Think about the problems that companies are facing and explain how you’ll solve them. Whether you’re applying to clean public spaces or write code, the way to get hired is to show prospective employers that you have the skills they need. Decode the job listing and emphasize your most valuable qualifications in your cover letter, in the profile section of your resume, and in job interviews.

If you can do your job from home, you may have a better chance than ever of getting a hiring manager’s attention. Many businesses and professional services companies, especially in the tech space, are having their employees work from home. hat means a whole lot of eyeballs are on a whole lot of inboxes—and some of them belong to hiring managers. If you have experience telecommuting, this would be good to mention on your resume.

Be Prepared to Ace the Interview

Be sure that you’re prepared for video interviews and are familiar with how the remote hiring process works. Practice interviewing via camera. If you’ve never interviewed via Skype or Zoom, there’s a bit of a learning curve.

Get acquainted with the technology and do a practice interview before you speak with the hiring manager. Pay close attention to the lighting and background as well as how your interview outfit shows up on camera.

Spend Time Networking

Remember that networking doesn’t require meeting in person. In the era of LinkedIn, Facebook groups, and other social networks, you don’t need to be able to shake someone’s hand to make a good impression.

Now is a particularly good time to practice one of the most important tenets of networking: if you want people to help you later, be willing to help them right now.

Write LinkedIn recommendations for former colleagues. Refer friends for open positions at your company. Offer to proofread your friend’s resume and cover letter. It will give you a sense of satisfaction, and it will help strengthen your network for the future.

Upgrade Your Skills

You may have extra time, and if you do, it’s an opportunity to upgrade your skills. There are many opportunities to work on your skillset online, including LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, and many other sites where you can learn new skills.

Be Patient and Kind

The coronavirus has impacted many facets of everyday life in addition to the workplace. If you’re not hearing back on jobs as quickly as you’d like, be patient and kind to hiring managers and your networking connections. Everyone has issues to deal with and is doing the best they can during a difficult time.

The hiring process may be longer and different from what you’re used to, but you’ll get there. When you do, take the time to thank everyone who helped with your job search.

Key Takeaways

Hiring Hasn't Stopped: Hiring may slow down in affected industries, but employers are still hiring.

Practice Interviewing: If you haven't used video for job interviews or meetings, practice ahead of time.

Give to Get: These are challenging times for almost everyone, offer to help whomever you can. You'll find people are willing to help you, too.

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