The news broke today that the U.S. unemployment rate had reached 14.7% — the highest rate since the Great Depression. This information can be daunting as you realize just how much competition there must be for open roles.
And while more Americans are actively searching for jobs than we’ve seen in decades, there are still companies hiring. If you’re smart in your search — both in the roles you look for, and how you present yourself — you can get a foot in the door at a company that hasn’t been brought to a halt by this pandemic.
1. Level up your skills.
There is only so much time you can spend re-tweaking your resume and LinkedIn. One of the best ways to land a new job is to leverage your time to learn new skills or to improve upon your existing ones. Just Google “free courses during COVID-19” and you’ll find a plethora of options — including ones that previously would have cost you a pretty penny just a few months ago.
This isn’t to say that anyone expects you to be at your most productive during this time of uncertainty, or to accept doing work for free indefinitely, but by taking courses and contributing to projects, you not only grow your own skill set and make yourself a more attractive candidate, you grow your network, too! You never know who you might meet when you drop into an online course or offer your skills to help with an open-source project.
2. Don’t knock on the front door, find ways to slide in the back.
We all know that submitting a resume and cover letter online is frustrating even in the best of times — how many times do you click “apply” and never hear back? In not-so-great times like these, that only becomes truer.
We recommend getting creative and finding ways to connect with folks at companies before you apply. Building a connection who could end up referring you to the company will dramatically increase your chances of getting an interview.
3. Don’t be scared to pivot industries.
If you worked in an industry that has been particularly hard-hit by COVID, do not be afraid to pivot. You may be surprised by just how many of your skills are transferable (think to move from in-person events to a tech company that needs a virtual community manager).
A pivot doesn’t have to mean a permanent shift. But it can help you land a job much faster by focusing your search on industries (think pharmaceuticals, grocery stores, tech, medicine) that are still actively hiring.
If you’ve been contemplating making a career shift for a while now, this may be the perfect time to go for it, given that when the job market is tough, the opportunity cost for going back to school is actually lower.
4. Optimize your LinkedIn and leverage your network.
1) Uploading your updated resume to your LinkedIn.
2) Ensuring your LinkedIn is searchable to recruiters. At a minimum, you need “good keywords related to your industry/skillset listed in your skills section, ‘About Me,’ and/or in the areas where you describe what you’ve done in a certain job,” she says.
Arguably the best way you can use LinkedIn is to ask your network for help. There is NO SHAME in admitting that you are on the job market right now, and more than ever before, people are looking for ways to help. Don’t be scared to say publicly what you’re going through, what you’re looking to do next, what your skills are, and what you need. You may be VERY pleasantly surprised by the responses you get.
5. Do your due diligence before you apply.
You should be strategic in your approach. Applying to roles takes time, and rather than just uploading a resume to every open job you see that matches your skills, you can avoid investing time in less-than-promising prospects by doing a bit of quick research on the job/company before you apply. Ask yourself: