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REALITY CHECK: Job Searching During A Pandemic

The CARES Act is expiring next week. Unemployment is decreasing in certain sectors, but overall it’s still a crippling difference from when the US waltzed into 2020 in true “Goldilocks Economy” fashion. There are 400% more applicants and candidate competition than before. So what’s the reality of what job seekers need to do during the Covid-19 pandemic? In a nutshell: You are going to have to work for it. Go the extra mile. Get out of your comfort zone. Go above and beyond. All those cliché phrases that are the 100% brutal truth. Get ready.

(1) The new networking rule. As daily “pandemic life” depletes our job search time at a rate we haven’t experienced before – and amidst this exponential rise in candidate competition – we recognize you need maximum ROI from your career search approaches. Therefore, it’s not far-fetched to recommend not applying anywhere unless you have an internal referral.

Since applying “cold” removes any context from your awareness, you may be unaware that the organization may have a current internal employee slated, and they are simply posting to follow due process. Or, they may already have external candidates referred, because 400% more are now expressing interest. Since your time is precious, would you rather have skipped that application?

(2) If you don’t have an internal referral, create one. Use LinkedIn the way it was meant to be used: to network. Find key decision-makers at organizations of interest and build rapport; ask for informational exchanges; see who in your professional sphere works at organizations of interest or knows anyone who might. Write a list of everyone you have ever worked with, gone to school with, have in your family and friends, etc. who may know people. Need some tips on how to do that, and/or what to say or how to phrase the “ask?” Contact us – it’s what we do. The point is, this is what it will take: that extra effort.

(3) Utilize staffing agencies. Find ones who specialize in your industry and/or function. Get referrals from your network about the good ones to know. Then, engage with them, be clear (and realistic) about the type of work you want and what/how you can contribute, and build relationships with a couple agencies with whom you can collaborate in a close, authentic manner. They just might open some doors for you.

(4) Follow up, and don’t let it slip. We recommend creating a spreadsheet and reminder system for all the applications and certainly interviews you have. Then make sure to follow up – consistently & politely – every time. Ask about next steps & timelines, and be as organized and on the ball with follow-ups as you’ve ever been with anything in your life. Organizations are processing high volumes of applications & interviews, and they aren’t going to get everything right. You need to advocate for yourself. Ask the organization about how to follow up, and do it. If they don’t respond, do it again. If you need to follow up with someone who referred you to another contact … do it, and keep doing it. You can blanket your persistence with something like, “These are unprecedented times for job candidates. I’m just trying to stay on top of all my processes – I hope you don’t mind!”

(5) Take care of yourself. It’s easy to get discouraged – and even depressed – at this time. As with any activity when you push yourself, make sure to carve out small moments to recover. Once you finish an online application, close your eyes and breathe for 3 minutes to clear your head before diving into another. Blast your favorite song and let your brain rest. And follow those other self-care suggestions that we always hear about: work out, walk outside, cuddle with your pet … all those things that produce mood-boosting serotonin. And don’t forget: you are NOT alone in feeling discouraged. Many others are in your same situation, not just in your profession, or city, or even your country … but around the world. You can realize a common comfort through others.

Generally speaking but especially during this Covid-19 era, if you apply to 30 jobs “cold” without any internal contacts or proactive networking, you will have better results taking the same amount of time to apply to just 10 jobs where you have internal referral support and/or where you have taken the extra time to network with internal decision-makers or application allies. #QualityOverquantity #BeCareerForward

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