We are living in unprecedented times. When it comes to your job search, we're here to help you navigate the uncertainty.
Each week, TopResume's career advice expert, Amanda Augustine, tackles your questions live on Facebook. We'll be republishing those answers here. As a certified professional career coach (CPCC) and resume writer (CPRW), Amanda has been helping professionals improve their careers for over 10 years.
In this Q&A, Amanda tackles your most pressing questions about what to do if you suddenly find yourself staring down job loss in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Is it OK to reach out to others regarding new opportunities given these uncertain times?
How can I capture an employer's attention in a tough job market, especially with a surplus of labor on the market?
What should I do if I lose my job in the wake of the coronavirus crisis?
It's OK to take a couple of days to just breathe
It's the best thing you can do; it's a very strange and unprecedented time. Mental health is important, so find ways to take care of yourself during all of this. Also, don't forget to apply for unemployment — it's not admitting defeat but rather helping yourself out during this time.
Make a plan
Companies are still hiring — you just have to be strategic and look for where there is a need. Do you need a short-term fix or a long-term opportunity? Look through job boards and other resources to help you make this decision.
Coming from a field that has been directly impacted, like the restaurant and hospitality industries? Perhaps you should pivot a bit — and if you need to pivot to a short-term fix, don't freak out. Everyone will be understanding during this time, even if it's outside your career path. It's OK to take a little curve because a lot of people are going to be doing just that.
Never use one resource when looking for a job
You want to find as many resources to use for your job search as you can. Use multiple resources and look at and define your career goals, skill set, experience, and other relevant information to help you decide which resources make sense for your situation.
We've put together a list of some of the new resources dedicated to helping people who have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus crisis — some of these sites offer full-time opportunities and could help your long-term plan. But don't discount normal job-search sites and job-search apps either.
Don't forget to continue networking
You're obviously not going to events, but that doesn't mean you can't still network. Instead, call up people who are in your industry or the industry you are interested in pursuing at this point. Reach out to your friends and family who may have connections to a company or industry that you are interested in, as well.
Because things are so uncertain, it might be useful to ask “Is your company hiring right now?” Companies may not have published their still-open roles to minimize the number of candidates to deal with since they are also navigating this tricky terrain with you.
We're all trying to figure out how to work from home for the first time or search for work in a different environment. That means companies are also trying to figure all this out — but virtual doors are still open.
The truth is that the hiring process is going to look a little different due to some companies' sudden shift to interviewing exclusively through video or over the phone. Now they have to change their hiring process and ultimately the on-boarding process when they do decide to extend a job offer. So assume there will be hiccups along the way — and don't assume the worst if they take a while to get back to you.
At the end of the day, both employers and job seekers should be giving each other the benefit of the doubt.
Do you feel during these uncertain times it's a good idea to reach out to others about new opportunities?
If you're currently employed, I 100 percent say yes; always be on the lookout for jobs and new opportunities and continue to explore your options. For those who are employed, this is also a good time to take stock: Do you really like what you're doing? Do you really enjoy the company you're working for?
Also, how did your company handle itself during this time? People are looking at the way their company responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, and how they implemented (or didn't implement) a work from home policy, with their response making some professionals question whether or not they want to stay with that company. A lot of people are going to come out of this crisis period saying, “Is this really what I want to do? Is this who I want to work for? Maybe it is time for a change.”
If you're feeling this now, or were thinking about a career change before all of this, I wouldn't abandon your job search. I would, however, keep in mind that the opportunities of yesterday may not be available to you today.
For some people, their job search will be delayed in terms of getting a new job right away, but that doesn't mean you should stop talking to your network about opportunities or working on your personal branding materials altogether.
This is a good time to sit down and re-evaluate your resume to update it based on your goals. Always remember your resume, your LinkedIn profile, and even how you prioritize who you want to talk to in your network should all align with your job goals.
Even if you're looking for a short-term job right now, inventory your skills. Identify the short-term jobs you want to pursue, and then take a look at how you might need to tweak or reposition your resume and LinkedIn profile so that you're speaking to the requirements of that role — especially if this is taking a hard left turn away from your career path up to date.
With things being uncertain, would I recommend saying, “See ya later!” to your boss and handing in your resignation without something lined up? No. You're always in the best position to find a job when you're currently employed, so I recommend toughing it out unless your job is harming you. You're always considered more attractive and more employable when you have a job.
Ask the tough questions because you don't want to be last in, first out at a company.
If you found a job you're really excited about, do your research into the stability of that company. If you get to the interview part of the process, and you are passed those initial rounds, you should dig deeper into their business plan, inquiring about how they will handle a potential economic recession. Is the pandemic affecting their business? Ask the tough questions because you don't want to be last in, first out at a company.
What are your recommendations for networking during this time of isolation?
Social distancing is going to force people to get a little more creative with their networking — and it's more than just sending out 15 LinkedIn requests at a time.
Search for virtual conferences and meetups
One site to check out is 10times.com, a website dedicated to conferences, trade shows, and any type of meeting that involves like-minded professionals getting together. It allows you to slice and dice by industry, location, and sector, with a section dedicated to virtual events in light of the coronavirus. It's perfect if you're looking for something that is more structured than your average chat on the phone.
Identify the social butterflies or power connectors in your life
Who is the person who introduces you to a ton of people? An exercise you can do to identify those people is:
Make a list of 25 people that aren't family or someone you met directly at work, but someone you met through someone else and write them down.
In the next column, write out the name of the person who introduced you. Now, how did you meet this person in the first place?
Then make a third column and write out the name of the person who introduced you to this person — and keep going.
You want to identify who is connecting you to so many people: who are your power connectors? And these are not just people who have diverse groups of friends, but individuals who genuinely enjoy introducing people to others. Find those people and reach out to them. Even if they don't know anything about your industry, they probably know someone who can help you.
Another change? I think a lot of networking is going to be one-on-one; we are really going to have to reconnect with everyone again. We are going to have to offer to get on the phone or take a FaceTime video call. Everyone is using these technologies, so use it for your job search too. Look for the opportunities to have face-to-face, virtual conversations rather than just via email or text.
How do you capture the attention of an employer, especially now when there is a surplus of talent?
Your resume needs to be spot on
Jeff Berger, founder of TopResume's parent company Talent Inc., often says “resume writing is both an art and a science.” You are writing your resume with at least two audiences in mind. One of those two audiences is the electronic gatekeeper — the applicant tracking system (ATS).
The applicant tracking system is a piece of software that scans resumes when they are submitted online, parses the information, and then tries to designate value to your candidacy. It's not necessarily good at cherry-picking the best candidates, but rather it eliminates those candidates considered to be the least qualified. You can be very qualified, but if your resume is not engineered with these robots in mind, you could still be eliminated from the search.
Once you get through the ATS and during an initial review by a hiring manager, your resume usually gets less than ten seconds to capture their attention. At that point, there are a lot of other people vying for the same attention. So how do you differentiate yourself?
It comes down to telling a strong career narrative and making your resume as easy as possible to skim. You want to make it easy to identify why you are qualified for the opportunity. Always go back to the job description: What are the requirements, what is desired, and what is an absolute must-have. You want to look at it line by line and think, “Have I done that? Do I have that skill? Is it clearly demonstrated on my resume? At what point in my career timeline have I done those things? Have I made that obvious?”
What I like to do is give a copy of the job description and a copy of my resume to a friend to see if I meet the requirements. Or just give them my resume and ask, “What kind of job do you think I'm looking for?” Give them 15-to-30 seconds maximum to do this.
If it's not clear to them, then you need to refine your resume further. Your resume should always be written with a job goal in mind — even if it's a short-term job goal. It's not about fancy fonts, graphics, or pictures in terms of making your resume stand out; it's about how you can make your resume simple, easy to read, and understandable with a quick glance. How can you make your qualifications obvious to whoever is reading it?
The other way to stand out? Networking
You are 10 times more likely to land the job when your application is followed by an employee referral. That means talking to people, networking, and bypassing the whole application process. Or formally applying to a position — but you're going to then pass your application on to a friend of a friend who is then passing it on to the hiring manager, so it's in front of them with a guarantee it's not in the resume black hole.
Why does this work? Because a recommendation means someone is advocating for you. When someone's passing on an application, it's their reputation that's on the line. They are not going to recommend a person they don't think will be a good fit. That means referrals from your network carry a lot of weight.
Stay in the job-search mindset
Pursue multiple job roles at once. The moment you get a phone screen scheduled for one role, start looking for other opportunities as well.
If you start putting all your eggs into one basket and it doesn't pan out, you don't want to have stopped networking or/and stopped looking for new jobs to apply for. If you halt all that activity and the job you really thought was going to work out doesn't, it will be hard to start job seeking again — especially if you lost the momentum.
Continue to keep looking at other opportunities so you're not starting again at zero. Also, when you are focused on multiple opportunities, you can't dwell on one and get fixated. You want to do whatever you can to land the job of course, but still pursue other opportunities. The key is to hope for the best, but assume the worst.
Don't take the loss personally
With this pandemic leading to record-high layoffs and unemployment, know that your job termination wasn't personal and not a reflection of you or your professional worth. Don't let this one experience make you doubt your skills and the value you're going to bring to another employer. Use your last role as a learning experience — what did they like about you at your last role? You can highlight those things as you look for your next job.
Worried about your career's future and want to make sure your resume is ready for a new job search? Let us help with a free resume critique!