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2020 has been tough for people who were laid off or had to leave their industry due to the pandemic. Learn tips on how to conduct a job search during a pandemic.

How to Find Work During a Pandemic

The year 2020 has been a tough year for most working people. Some found themselves trying to find work after being laid off and others let go from industries that didn’t survive the on-going pandemic. Others may have voluntarily left positions if they were part of a high-risk group. Without adequate responses from our governmental leaders, many workers find themselves making more tough decisions about returning to work.

I have written about the job-search process in the past, but haven’t delved into job-searching in a pandemic yet. My cousin Savannah asked me to write about how to do a job-search process, as she has a chronic illness that puts her in a high-risk group. Like me, she is reticent to return to in-person work, but still needs to navigate the changes in networking, applying, interviewing, and all the other parts of the job search process that have changed.

It felt like a good idea to look into this topic for both her and for me.


Advice from the Experts

Many of the tips for job-searching during a pandemic were basic – but I encourage you to look beyond the basic approach and think: how has this approach changed in the last few months? What new skill or approach do I need to learn?

For me, it has been learning how to interview via Zoom and other video conferencing technologies. As a life-long phone interviewer, I have perfected how I talk on the phone during the initial screens. I walk around my apartment, use my hands to help me make a point, and sometimes screw up my face when a question boggles me at first.

But on a video screen, I can’t use the same techniques. My first interview was me looking at my own face on the screen trying to look less nervous and trying to keep still on camera. I know this is a skill I need to work on, among others.

Below are more tips I believe will be helpful for anyone looking for work while we are still in a pandemic.


Cultivate confidence

Look back at your accomplishments and successes while thinking about the challenges you’ve successfully overcome.

You might also cultivate confidence by repeating positive affirmations to yourself every morning and in the evening, reflecting on what has gone well that day and concentrating on your own journey of professional progress and growth instead of comparing yourself to others.

The more confident you can be about your career as you look for a new job, the more effective you can be in marketing yourself to employers and making the case for the value you can bring to every role you apply for.

From 10 tips for finding a new job during a pandemic or recession by Gaelle Blake

Start by standing out

So, how do you stand out and start getting interviews? You need to navigate the job search in the following stages:

  • Branding
  • Networking
  • Interview preparation and salary negotiation

Let’s start with branding. As a job seeker, your brand = your résumé + LinkedIn profile.

As an example, Amazon now has 175,000 new job openings. Let’s say you are applying for a manager position. Many recruiters and hiring managers now use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to look for job candidates. The old-school days of them printing your résumé and reading it are over.

The ATS looks for keywords on your résumé and LinkedIn profile — hence, your brand. In order for you to get these keywords, a great resource is Jobscan.

From How To Find Work During A Pandemic by Wasim Hajjiri

Research employers and industries in active-hiring mode

While some firms, nonprofits and government agencies are shedding workers, others are looking for new employees. A recent Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey found that 31% of health care organizations are actively hiring and 16% expect to be soon.

Other sectors with prospective jobs include tech, finance and online tutoring, as well as pandemic “essential businesses” like grocery stores, delivery services and manufacturers of protective equipment.

LinkedIn.comJobscan.coThe Wall Street JournalFlexJobs.com and Job-Hunt.org all have real-time lists of employers that are hiring.

From 5 tips for finding work during the COVID-19 pandemic by Nancy Collamer

Gather Intel

Set up Google alerts for the companies you want to work for and listen to investor calls, Labovich says. When you do have a chance to interview, you’ll be able to demonstrate that you understand the concerns leadership has and the threats the company faces from this pandemic, she says. You can mention what you read and listened to and use your specific knowledge to drive home how you could help the company achieve its goals if hired.

From What Does the Coronavirus Pandemic Mean for Your Job Search? by Lisa Rabasca Roepe

Engage your network

Don’t hesitate to reach out to former colleagues and bosses if you see openings at their companies. They’re more likely to hire you than the competition because they know your skills and work ethic. Even if they aren’t hiring, they can be references for your other applications. Since they’re in the industry, they may hear of other jobs through their own network and they can recommend you.

From How to find a job during the coronavirus pandemic, by Elana Lyn Gross

Keep an open mind to new opportunities

Finding a job right now requires a lot of persistence and patience, and that might mean taking a position outside of your preferred area, just to get you by.

The pandemic has already lead to many new types of jobs, such as contact tracers and temperature checkers. Consider applying for those emerging jobs, and find ways to transfer over your current skills and experience.

From 7 tips for finding a new job during the coronavirus pandemic by Sarah Foster

Practice phone and video job interviews

Now that many people are working remotely, job interviews are being done by phone and video instead of [in person]. It can be more challenging to have a phone interview because it is harder to interpret someone’s reaction and have a conversation that flows naturally. It can be trickier to have a video interview because it can feel awkward to be on camera. You’ll stand out if you learn the ins-and-outs of phone and video job interviews. And we’ve got the phone job interview and video job interview tips and tricks you need to know.

From How to find a job during the coronavirus pandemic, by Elana Lyn Gross

Monitor social media for prospective job opportunities

To connect with employers that are recruiting candidates through social media, follow their social media accounts to learn more about their operations and culture; retweet and share their relevant posts and comment on their posts when you have something constructive to add to the conversation.

Doing so might lead you to hear from one or more of them.

From 5 tips for finding work during the COVID-19 pandemic by Nancy Collamer

Take on a temp or freelance gig

If you don’t currently have a job, apply to temp and freelance work to pay the bills. It could lead to a full-time job when you impress your co-workers. It’s also a great opportunity to gain some in-demand skills. If you’re currently working from home, remember that employers are looking for people who are self-disciplined enough to work from home, have the excellent written and verbal communication skills necessary to communicate with colleagues and clients remotely, and are organized and efficient. 

From How to find a job during the coronavirus pandemic, by Elana Lyn Gross

Boost Your Skills

Now is the perfect time to work on bolstering your qualifications, Moser says. Analyze job descriptions by listing each required skill and experience. Then consider whether you have that exact skill, if you have the skill but haven’t used it in a few years, or if you’re lacking the skill entirely. Use that information to determine what you need to brush up on to make yourself an even better candidate when the job market picks up again.

For instance, if you’re applying for social media or marketing specialist positions, the listing will likely require experience with Google Analytics and Hootsuite. Being certified in either or both would make your resume stand out.

There are plenty of free online course including MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), EdX classes (featuring free courses from MIT and Harvard), and free Microsoft training and tutorials. (Find more sites that offer online courses here.)

From What Does the Coronavirus Pandemic Mean for Your Job Search? by Lisa Rabasca Roepe

Show off your transferrable skills

There’s so much competition for jobs, so it’s important to up your game right now. First, prioritize jobs that have been posted most recently because that’s a sign that the company has a current role that needs to be filled. If a posting has been up for weeks, it may be less of a priority for the company right now. Be confident when you’re reading job postings and remember that you can still get the job even if you don’t meet all of the job qualifications. Use your resume and cover letter to show you have transferrable skills employers are seeking.

From How to find a job during the coronavirus pandemic, by Elana Lyn Gross


Know Your Rights

One important thing to remember, for people living with chronic illnesses and other disabilities, is that workers’ rights are protected by the American Disabilities Act. Employers must make reasonable accommodations to protect workers, including allowing distance or remote work, temporary reassignment to a vacant position, or permission to use personal protective equipment such as gloves/masks.

Many national advocacy organizations, such as the American Diabetes Association, have provided FAQs on what to ask employers, what should be provided, and how to ask for accommodations. For instance, it is important to know what an employer can and cannot ask for:

Can my employer request a doctor’s note when I request reasonable accommodations or return to work after being sick?

Yes. An employer may request reasonable documentation where a disability or the need for reasonable accommodation is not known or obvious. But, an employer can only request documentation necessary to establish that the employee has diabetes and to explain why an accommodation is needed. In addition, if you have been sick, if your employer has a reasonable belief that you may be unable to perform your job or may pose a direct threat to herself or others, the employer may ask for medical information to make an assessment of your present ability to perform your job and to do so safely.


Career Coaching for the Mid-Level Career Professional

I have worked with entry-level and mid-level career professionals for nearly ten years, helping them reconsider their strengths and ways to learn new skills. Let me know if there is anything I can do to support you as you develop this new skill.

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Joseph Rios, EdD
leadershipandvaluesinaction@gmail.com
I am Joseph Rios and I believe that leadership is an expression of our values
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