Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have wondered how we would be directly affected, and when things would “get back to normal.” Now here we are, eight months later, still navigating these same questions. COVID-19 has had an incredible impact on America’s physical, mental, and financial wellbeing. Thousands of Americans have found themselves without jobs and without a roadmap on how to get one and a large population of Americans are wondering what they can do to stand out and find a job during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
While the question for some individuals on the job hunt is, “Will I have to lower my standards for the sake of employment during the pandemic?” it might be the exact opposite for employers. They are able to raise standards due to the higher volume of candidates. And while this will inevitably benefit those who they choose to bring on, it also makes for a trickier journey in getting there. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, for every job opening, there are 4.6 unemployed individuals.
The statistics and emotions behind the current workforce are daunting, but they are not insurmountable. The pandemic, while creating some new barriers, has also given us much needed time for reflection and prioritization. Adaptation is nothing new. With a little legwork, you can navigate this trying time and find a job that will make your efforts feel warranted. But first, you must try to shift your thought process from one of fear and frustration to one of hope and opportunity.
1. Be Willing to Put in the Extra Mile
While scrolling through job postings and thinking through your network connections, it’s easy to send off your resume in one click and forget about it. You can easily apply for ten jobs in under thirty minutes without thinking past the small job description attached to the posting. And while this benefits those in a hurry to find employment, the lack of intentionality could hurt you later. Slow down. Find a job posting that interests you. Read through your resume and assess your fit for the role. Apply, but do not stop there. Creativity is key when Executive Recruiters Jason Reeder and Ian Crockett of Thomas Group are hiring. “We talk about it a lot, but we don’t see it very often. A candidate stands out, no matter what the market conditions may be when they simply go the extra mile with their creativity in showing their desire for a position. So, for example, not just applying for a position online and waiting for feedback, but instead doing research on the company, looking for any personal connections, finding a number, and making a quick call to introduce themselves. Those people would be the first ones we interviewed and the ones we would end up fighting for” says Crockett. This small act shows employers that a candidate is willing to put in the extra mile which easily ties into their perception of how that candidate will perform if hired. It isn’t aggressive actions, but it’s behavior that illustrates how willing they are to put time and energy into going after something.
2. Understand Your Strengths
In such a highly-competitive market, it’s easy to feel like the least qualified candidate on the market. We can quickly label an empty voicemail box or unfollowed-up resume submission as a personal failure. And while these results can be a valuable learning experience, it’s equally as important to understand your strengths. Knowing what you bring to the table both in and out of the workplace is key to keeping your confidence in this unprecedented time. What do you bring to the table? Not just the workplace, but to your friendships, to your family, and to yourself. Maybe your calm demeanor helps to settle conflict and promote intentionality. Maybe you are a boisterous leader who livens up the workplace and brings joy into your connections. Either way, you are a multi-faceted individual just waiting for your chance to show how impressive you are. Positive self-talk and identifying your strengths is key to having successful interviews and knowing your worth. As Jason Reeder says, “It’s a mindset. It’s telling yourself you can win and setting yourself up for success. The pandemic has made people a lot stronger– realizing that they’re much stronger than they thought they were and that they are capable of doing so much.”
3. Set Yourself Up for Success
“Participate in your own rescue.” This advice by Ian Crockett on navigating employment in this unsettled time is key. Knowing your own strengths is crucial, but so is knowing your weaknesses. Assessing others is a lot easier, but self-assessment is what will lead you to success, and there is no better time than now. Find a trusted, professional mentor and ask them, “Why am I not getting a job?” Role play interviewing. Ask for feedback. As Ian says, “Asking for real, constructive feedback is critical. Otherwise, you’re just wandering down the same path.” Once you can identify these areas for growth, you can tackle the routes to change them. You can find online courses to learn more about industry subjects you lack experience in. You can reconsider how your previous work experience has impacted you. Whatever the case may be, using this time of uncertainty and stagnancy as an opportunity to grow will not only impress your next employer, but it will also solidify a mentorship that will help you for years to come. As uncomfortable as self-assessment might be, Jason Reeder says it best, “If you are going to fail, fail quickly.”
4. Keep Your Identity
When you’re feeling the pressure of finding a new job, it’s easy to settle for getting any job over getting the right job. It’s easy to feel consumed by the search and all of the emotions that come with it. After all, if you are looking for a job right now, it is most likely one of the top stressors in your day-to-day life. However, keeping your identity separate from your job search is crucial. In this highly competitive market, employers are able to prioritize even more. Employers don’t just want skilled and competent employees; they want to be surrounded by people they connect with across the board. Whether your workplace is remote or in-person, the pandemic has emphasized the value of relationships. As Jason Reeder says, “Relationships, genuine, deep-level, good relationships, are hard to come by. So, when a candidate sees value in them, I want to know because I am trying to create that same level of relationship with anyone that joins our company.” Remind yourself of what you enjoy apart from your work. Who are the most important people in your life? What are your hobbies? If there were no limitations, how would you spend your next weekend? Your passions outside of work are not trivial; they are insights into who you are and how you will fit into a company’s culture. Employers want to get to know the real you.
Give yourself the competitive advantage and put these tips into place beginning today. Once you do, we are confident that you will have the success you are looking for and find a job during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Written by: Madeline Litterst