Crafting the perfect resume, networking and interviewing. Job hunting can be tough in the best of times. With the current pandemic, we’re experiencing challenges unlike any we’ve ever seen. While there are record numbers of unemployment, the job market isn’t a completely barren landscape.
There are several industries and companies still hiring and actions you can take to stand out from the crowd. As a recruiter with more than a decade of experience in the Seattle market, I’ve compiled five tips for job hunting in the time of COVID-19 that will help you secure your next role.
1. Focus on Industries and Local Companies That are Thriving
Although some organizations may be reducing their workforce, there are many industries and companies that are thriving and looking to hire new employees. Essential businesses such as delivery services, financial institutions, retail stores, hospitals and emergency services, are all going strong.
In tech towns like Seattle, concentrate on companies in specialty niches reporting an increased demand for workers, such as Amazon, Auth0, Costco, Okta, Outreach, Convoy, Zillow and Redfin. Use resources like the Seattle Times, Puget Sound Business Journal and Geekwire to see if companies have a hiring freeze in place or are downsizing.
With the shift to working from home, many companies are growing their remote roles. There is also an uptick in contractors working with staffing agencies and freelance opportunities via platforms like UpWork. When applying, be sure these roles remain remote after the pandemic if you don’t want to have to report to an office. Due to legal and taxation reasons, many smaller employers cannot support long-term remote work in states where they don’t have physical offices.
2. Use a Variety of Search Avenues to Uncover Job Openings
The best way to uncover job openings is on sites like LinkedIn, Indeed.com and Glassdoor. For positions in tech companies, Built in Seattle is another excellent resource. In addition to these job boards, try looking for other places where recruiters and hiring managers broadcast opportunities, such as the following:
Another search strategy is to find managers and recruiters at your target companies and follow them on LinkedIn. Hiring managers will often share job openings with their networks, including their followers. However, it’s best to check the employer’s website directly to ensure a position is still open (paid job postings usually expire after a month).
When searching on any job board, use the “date posted” filter to ensure you’re applying to the most recently listed positions. Once you find a job that you are qualified for (i.e., you meet at least 75% of the stated requirements) and have applied to the position, it’s time to start networking.
3. Update Your LinkedIn Profile to Highlight Your Experience
Be sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date with details that provide an overview of your background and skills. The title next to your name should reflect the position you’re targeting. If you’ve been a project coordinator taking on project management duties, use “associate project manager” as your title.
Likewise, instead of writing “open to new opportunities” as your headline or title, click the “Open to new opportunities” radio button. Most recruiters on LinkedIn have paid accounts that allow them to see you’ve selected this option, so writing “open to new opportunities” creates redundancy and takes up valuable real estate on your profile.
The “about me” section is another crucial part of your profile and should have highlights from your career. Mention the industries you’ve worked in, notable projects, knowledge of industry-related software programs and tools as well as any certifications or licenses you have. While some of this information may repeat throughout your profile, this is one area recruiters and hiring managers home in on first.
Don’t forget to take advantage of the “skills” section of your profile and list out your relevant abilities. Your skills should be quantifiable. I.e., you can use some form of measurement for them. Keep in mind this section is the primary area where LinkedIn pulls keywords from and should correlate to the same skills in your job history. When a recruiter runs a keyword search, the system stack ranks each search term based on the number of times it’s found.
For example, if a recruiter is searching for an outside sales representative with experience in Salesforce and cold calling, a seven-year veteran that only mentions “Salesforce” and “cold call” once will appear less qualified than someone with three-years of experience that mentions the terms several times.
4. Leverage Your LinkedIn Connections to Get Your Foot in the Door
Find someone in the company you know via LinkedIn and ask them for a referral. If you don’t know anyone, do some research to see if you can find a hiring manager in that company hiring for your role. Reaching out to recruiters is also an excellent option, but be sure to include either the job URL or job number for the position.
When using LinkedIn to network, write a note explaining why you are contacting them. Keep it short and don’t go into your elevator pitch – save that for your phone screen.
5. Consider Going to Back to School to Boost Your Skills
With the sheer volume of candidates on the market, recruiters and hiring managers have the luxury of being picky about who they consider. If you’re thinking about going back to school, getting a certificate in your profession could be the differentiator between you and another equally qualified candidate.
Additional education is never a bad thing, but unless you’re getting a full-on degree or changing fields, it should be relevant to your prior career. For example, if you’ve been an adult education trainer at your company, completing a Certificate in E-Learning Instructional Design can prepare you to develop and manage courses virtually, making you more attractive as services continue to move online.
Despite all the doom and gloom around the employment landscape, hiring freezes won’t last forever and there are many companies currently recruiting for positions. Whether you’re looking for a new position immediately or planning for the future, securing your next role is a matter of honing or expanding your job search, updating your skills and remaining positive that your dream career is around the corner.