Job Searching During a Pandemic
Writer / Elizabeth Shultz, M.Ed., CRC, CPRW
Shultz Career Consulting
Whether you suddenly found yourself unemployed, or realized job security is not to be taken for granted and have spent time looking for employment, you know the job search game has changed recently. Less than six months ago, the job market was considered an employee market, meaning the average job seeker would likely have multiple options. However, according to a July 2020 report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are now approximately 16 million unemployed individuals in the U.S. That’s a lot of competition. Even the most qualified job seekers are having to make concessions.
Resumes Are More Than Keywords
Prior to the pandemic, only about 2% of applicants received an interview after submitting an online application.
If there are 16 million people unemployed and half of those folks are actively applying for work by sending out a conservative estimate of 25 resumes per month, then 200 million resumes are hitting job boards and career portals across the US. How do you stand out?
Think culture. An employer will hire someone they like over someone with more qualifications. After all, you can’t teach personality. Think about the impact of a personality that doesn’t fit in with a team. It could be a detrimental hiring move, undermining the productivity of an entire department. Check the employer website for clues about the work environment and company culture. Then take it a step further and check out their social media sites. What type of image are they projecting? From the website, you may also be able to determine who you will be working with directly. If so, check out their LinkedIn pages. Then, tie this information directly into the professional statement on your resume or cover letter in a genuine way.
Job Search Strategy
First, let’s explore what jobs are available now. As of July 2020, the following areas saw gains – government, professional and business services, hospitality, health care, manufacturing, transportation and warehouse, real estate, and social assistance.
You can increase your chances of finding employment if you consider crossing industries. Start with an inventory of your transferrable skills, or skills that are applicable across multiple industries. Some examples include customer service, leadership, data analysis, adaptability and technology literacy.
Networking is a must, even in a pandemic, and LinkedIn is your friend. Yes, it can be intimidating. But remember we all started out with zero connections. Look for opportunities within trade and professional organizations that could include organized activities. Set time aside weekly to engage in posts or private messages to nurture relationships. They will bear fruit.
Remember the hidden job market. This refers to jobs that are not publicly posted. By networking, you are more likely to become aware of job opportunities not available to the general public.
Keep a Positive Outlook
Keep hope. Remember, this is a super competitive market. Little victories should be celebrated, such as getting an employer response even if it’s a rejection. It still takes time and effort to respond to applications, especially considering the employers could be seeing thousands of resumes for one opening. It may take longer to find the right job, but don’t be afraid to accept a job offer in the meantime. Some work is better than no work. Job seekers with gaps on their resumes tend to be at a disadvantage.
With all the competition, don’t pull a template off the internet for a resume. Don’t neglect your LinkedIn profile and summary. These are the pillars of your job search, and it makes sense to invest time and effort in them. If writing isn’t your thing, or if you’re having trouble coming up with accomplishments or powerful adjectives, there are resources. Kentucky Career Center, the Urban League, and even the library system offer free services to the general public. If you need a more personalized approach, try hiring a career counselor or professional resume writer like those at Shultz Career Consulting in Jeffersontown. They will have the expertise to establish the best platform to showcase your skills and attributes to the right potential employers, giving you a competitive edge over other applicants.
For more information or to speak with Elizabeth, check out ShultzCareer.com or call (502) 819-5881.