If you currently have a job but were planning on looking for another when the pandemic started, now is the time to make do with what you have while preparing for the crisis to wind down. If you are one of the millions laid off, take your new free time to make yourself more desirable to potential employers.
Regardless of your situation, you can use the four tips below to get an edge in the job market.
We’re already in the age of digital networking, but now it’s more essential than ever. Large-scale networking events are mostly canceled, so you can’t depend on making contacts face-to-face anymore. Most events don’t want to risk spreading COVID-19, and many states are still under lockdown orders, so you’re better off going online to find new contacts and meet potential employers.
Start with websites like LinkedIn, where you can create a professional profile and then search for and message possible contacts in your industry. LinkedIn offers a premium service (at a premium price) that gives you access to their advanced search options. You can get more specific in your search terms to find the best people with which to network.
Another option is Facebook groups. There is a Facebook group for everything, so start searching for a group in your industry or a related industry and comment on user’s posts to make a good first impression.
If you’re unemployed, use your free time to brush up on your professional skill set or branch out and learn new skills. Even if you are currently employed, you can work on new areas in the evenings so that you are better prepared to find a job when the pandemic starts winding down.
Don’t go out there and learn random skills that won’t give you a leg up in the job market. Instead, focus on areas like marketing, coding, data analysis, web development, and general tech skills. It would help if you also brushed up on soft skills like leadership, critical thinking, and innovation.
You can find courses on edX, Coursera, and LinkedIn Learning for both hard skills and soft skills. If you can’t find a free course, it’s worth considering a subscription to a site like Learn@Forbes, which offers a wide range of skills courses with a free 14-day free trial.
Make a short list of companies you most want to work with and then start stalking them. The best way to get in with a company is to know about what they do, how they run, who works there, and what type of person they typically hire. You also want to know how the company is doing during the pandemic and whether you should, in the end, stay away from them.
You can set up a Google alert with the company’s name and wait for news articles and blog posts to crop up. Avoid companies that look like they might go under, even if it sounds like a year or two for them to get there. It’s inadvisable to make long-term plans at a business that is near the end of its life.
You also want to avoid companies with bad press or that aren’t taking COVID-19 seriously. Not only is that dangerous for your health, but disrespecting the current situation is viewed negatively by most, and you don’t want to get mixed up in that situation.
If you have a Facebook page full of questionable posts or pictures, or a YouTube channel with embarrassing content, use this time to clean up your image. Go through your social media pages and remove any content that a potential employer might find unfavorable. It’s no secret that companies look at social media pages before they hire someone, so make it easy for them to like you by clearing out the old posts.
It would be best if you also worked on your professional social media pages like LinkedIn. Don’t only make a profile and call it good. Work on adding all of your work history, a profile, and cover image, professional recommendations, and connections with other users. The more you spruce up your LinkedIn profile, the better you look.
Another way to clean your image is by changing your wardrobe. Before you start interviewing, make sure you have a decent wardrobe or, at the very least, a nice interviewing outfit. No one gets a good job when they show up with holes in their clothes or stains on their pants. However, you don’t have to rush out and spend hundreds of dollars on an outfit. If money is tight, look for nonprofits that donate interview clothes.