The job market is uncertain, but here are 5 things you can do right now
From how you take your classes to how you shop for groceries, many aspects of your life have been affected by COVID-19. You may be worried about how this unprecedented crisis will affect your career (or you may be distracted dealing with everything else, because, you know, the whole pandemic thing), but one thing is certain; you can use this time in isolation to help make yourself more competitive in the labour market!
Career Development & Experiential Learning is here to help you make the most of this situation by producing a series of articles and resources to support you with your career-related needs during these strange, strange times.
This first article will give you some general tips for what you can do during your isolation time that will help with your career progression in the future. Keep an eye out for our future articles that will expand on each of these topics (and more!) in detail and give you some tangible actions to follow.
Pause your Netflix and settle in; here are 5 things you can do during your isolation to help your career.
Continue to apply; it is not a waste of time.
Let’s be honest, this whole situation sucks. It’s okay to acknowledge this and it’s okay to feel anxious about it. It can be difficult to stay positive when job loss is rampant and so many parts of the economy have been shut down. You may be tempted to stop trying, but if you don’t apply, you certainly won’t get the job.
The good news is that some hiring is still happening, especially in certain pockets of the economy, and while others may be taking a break from applying, you can take this time to craft killer applications and try to take advantage of these opportunities (book a career advising appointment and we can help you with your applications). It will likely be tough, but be patient. It’s worth putting yourself out there and giving yourself a chance.
When applying, be sure to tailor your resume to each job you apply for to improve your chances of being called for an interview. Learn more about job searching during the pandemic in this Thursday’s COVID-19 Careers post!
Build and nurture your network.
The hidden job market refers to the fact that most positions are filled through referrals, meaning the employer hires someone they know or someone who was referred to them by someone they know. Though many companies may not be hiring right now, it is likely that they will be once the economy starts to recover, and they will once again look to their networks for recruiting.
Professional networking sites, such as LinkedIn, are great resources for building and maintaining your professional network. During your isolation, take time to ensure your LinkedIn profile is professional, includes key words (skills from job postings that interest you), and has a headline that highlights your value by stating your skills, knowledge/expertise, or experiences. If this seems overwhelming, don’t worry; you can book a LinkedIn profile critique through mySuccess to have a career advisor review your profile with you.
You want to be active on sites such as LinkedIn so your network can get to know you and what you have to offer. Share articles, comment on your connections’ posts, and send messages to your connections (sending an article you think might be interesting to them can be a great conversation starter!). You may also get some great tips for career planning (check out our career planning post next week)!
Focus on skills.
If properly identified and communicated, skills can make you stand out as a successful candidate to an employer. A valuable use of your time right now would be to analyse your skills. Reflect on your past work, volunteer, extracurricular, and academic experiences. What skills led to success during these activities?
Another aspect of this analysis is discovering what skills you lack or need to strengthen. To get this information, examine job postings to find what skills are requested by employers. If you have them, record evidence of their success so you can prove them to employers. If not, you can use this time to develop or strengthen your skills. Consider taking online courses through platforms such as Coursera or LinkedIn Learning and include these on your resume or LinkedIn profile. Not only will this boost your value to employers, but it will also demonstrate to them that you are dedicated to learning and professional development.
Refine your job search abilities, like resume writing and interviewing.
Skills like resume writing and interviewing can be vital to finding employment. Though interviewing is currently primarily over video or phone, the basic interview preparation remains the same: consider examples from experiences of times when you demonstrated skills that will be relevant for the jobs you will want and practice communicating these examples.
Right now, you can do things like practice common interview questions in front of your webcam. When you watch your responses, pay attention to how well you present yourself while answering the questions, and how well you have proven you have the skills they need by providing examples of times when you demonstrated these skills. Keep your eye out for our COVID-19 Careers post next week on remote interviewing!
You also will want to polish your application documents, such as your resume and cover letter. These marketing tools sell your abilities to prospective employers, so ensuring they are effective can be a huge asset to your job search both during and after the pandemic.
Chat with us at CDEL.
This is a stressful and really weird time, but remember that you are not alone. We are here to help you with all your career development needs, whether it be during a pandemic or not.
Though we are not currently on campus, you can still access our services remotely (which means you can wear your sweatpants!). Log on to mySuccess to book a phone or online career advising appointment and to find our recorded and live webinar dates that cover various career development topics. If you have specific career or job search questions, or just feel lost about your next steps and want to chat, please reach out by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep an eye out for the rest of our COVID-19 Careers Series to get more details about how you can use this time to benefit your career!
Stephanie Dupley is a Career Advisor - International and Graduate Students with Career Development & Experiential Learning.