While many of us were relieved to say goodbye to 2020, there are quite a few things that we aren’t entirely free of: the global pandemic, video calls, and a struggling economy. According to Monster’s Year in Jobs 2018 report, the beginning of the year is the time where most people are looking for new jobs. Already this year, that couldn’t be truer. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employers cut 140,000 jobs last month. With that said, the unemployment rate has remained at a steady 6.7% and recruiters are looking for new hires. Unfortunately, the pandemic has made the job market even more competitive, not only for 9-5ers but for freelancers too.
Many people rely on their professional and social networks to enhance their chances of landing a job — taking opportunities to connect over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, with the hopes to learn more about a new company, industry, or role. In this “new normal” where most, if not all, communication is taking place over a computer, how can we take our job search to the next level while maintaining productivity?
Cheresa Fewell, Internship and Career Counselor at St. John’s University, and Career Coach and owner of Career Studios, shares tips on the best way to get the most out of your job search — and if nothing else, build up your resume.
1. LinkedIn is your friend
LinkedIn has long been the resident place to go for job searching, recruiting, and networking. However, according to Cheresa, many people don’t know how to optimize their LinkedIn profile. “Your LinkedIn profile has to be updated. People can’t connect with you if they don’t know who you are.” She also encourages looking up professional organizations that are associated with their industry of interest. “Research the members and check their activity on LinkedIn. This is another way to connect.”
- You’ve got skills – Pull highlights from your resume and integrate them into the “Experience” section of your LinkedIn profile.
- Showcase your superpowers – Highlight your accomplishments. Make sure that you’re branding yourself and that your brand is clearly represented. More on developing a personal brand here.
- Knowledge is power – Strengthen your summary and explain your role and contributions to the industry or current organizations to show that you have more than an understanding of the industry you’re in — or the one you want to work in.
- Be engaged – Write posts at least once a week around topics that pertain to the industry you’re interested in. You can do this by sharing informative articles, posts from people you follow, or your own thoughts. Don’t forget to comment and like the work of those you want to support, or message someone to expand on an earlier conversation.
Fewell is a huge proponent of webinars. “There are a ton of free or low-cost webinars in every industry.” Not only is attending an easy way to stay informed on what’s going on in your industry of interest, but it’s also a way to find people to connect with. She encourages tracking who has attended the webinar to find their contact information. The next step is to connect on LinkedIn. This webinar is now an opportunity to initiate a conversation!
3. Invest in yourself
It’s important to invest in yourself in several aspects of your life such as health and wellness, and education — but that goes for job hunting, too. Now that we’re living in a work-from-home economy the job market is incredibly competitive and it will take a lot more than a strong resume to stand out amongst the crowd. When working with her clients, Cheresa encourages them to lean on the ultimate internet resource — Google!
- Enroll in an online course – Taking an online course to improve your skills or gain new ones is always beneficial when looking for a job. It’s a way to show companies that you’re driven and are always willing to learn. It’s also a great place to network with students and teachers. Udemy and Skillshare are also affordable resources that provide a variety of courses for you to choose from.
- “I work with a ton of pre-med students who have had to learn how to pivot when thinking about where to apply since the pandemic started,” Cheresa explains. “I’ve encouraged them to search for independent study courses that will help them stay up to date and relevant while looking for employment opportunities. It’s amazing what free courses you can find on Youtube.”
- Build a personal website – Having your own website is an opportunity to brand yourself outside of your LinkedIn profile. On your own website, you can show your portfolio of work, whether it’s a personal blog, podcast, or some form of thought leadership. Ultimately, this a low-cost way to outshine the competition by showing companies why you’re right for the job.
- Hire a career coach – Hiring a career coach can prove incredibly beneficial to your job search. Especially, during these unprecedented times, they have their ear to the ground and are aware of how job-seekers need to pivot and think outside the box when applying. Additionally, they can provide insight and feedback about how you’re presenting yourself in the job market. They can assist you by helping you refine your online presence, improve your resume, networking, and interviewing skills.
4. Fostering relationships
Now you’ve made a connection. What’s next? “It’s important to recognize that some connections are made quickly and others take time, so remember to be patient,” says Fewell. “Once you’ve made a connection, have a list of questions ready. They should be questions that you are unable to find the answers to. So be sure to do your research!
Lastly, don’t feel limited by the rules of social distancing. Invite them to a virtual coffee meeting and send them a $5 gift card to Starbucks, or a local coffee shop in their area. It’ll highlight your creativity and thoughtfulness while showing you’re serious about what they have to say. They will appreciate it.”
Looking for a new job can feel daunting and oftentimes discouraging. As you gear up for new opportunities this year, remember to: take your time, think outside the box, and show up as your best self.