11 steps to help find a new job during a pandemic..

Did you intend to start looking for a new job shortly before the COVID-19 outbreak, and are now wondering whether you should?  Or perhaps you have been forced to seek a new role due to a change in circumstances, directly caused by the coronavirus disruption?

Either way, it is important for you to remember that it is possible to find a new job during this time.  The world of employment is still going to need talented people – that will never change.

So, what are the steps that you could take that would help secure a new job.

1. Build career confidence

Whether you have started to feel that you are not qualified or skilled enough to move ahead in your career, or you have been missing the positive reinforcements and praise that you would normally experience from the physical office environment, it is understandable that your confidence may have taken a knock over the past few months.  If so, take a step back and proactively identify your strengths and the areas in which you deliver most value.  Then focus on reinforcing those strengths in your mind, instead of concentrating on the areas of development.

When it comes to addressing the areas you may be lacking, do so with a growth mindset.  After all these do not need to be framed as weak, they are merely areas and opportunities for you to grow and become a more well-rounded professional.

There are many ways of beginning to build your career confidence for the new era of work.  One good starting point could be to look back at your accomplishments and successes, while thinking about the challenges you have successfully overcome.  You might also cultivate confidence by repeating positive affirmations to yourself every morning and evening, reflecting on what has gone well that day and concentrating on your own journey of professional progress and growth, rather than 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 value you can bring to every role you apply for.

2. Adopt a flexible mindset when considering opportunities

Being open-minded and flexible when considering the possibilities for your professional future is vital in the current time.   Instead, of thinking about the next traditional step up the career ladder for someone in your profession, why not consider whether a horizontal move could be more beneficial.  This sideways move could help to build a skill set presently lacking, ensuring that you have all the skills you need to achieve your future career ambitions in the long term.

Keep an open mind too bout the industries on which you concentrate your job search.  Some sectors – technology, life sciences and ecommerce – will be hiring more than others in the current climate.   So be strategic about how and where you look for new job opportunities.   In addition, do not assume that any role you take should be permanent. Temporary or contract roles can be invaluable ways to build your skill set and gain experience in different areas and always remember that such roles can sometimes become permanent later.

3. Acknowledge that your career will likely be non-linear

Increased life expectancy will provide many of us with more time to continue exploring opportunities and shaping our careers in directions that we might have never imagined or expected, especially when we were just starting our professional lives.

Leading to a lot of us, potentially working well into ours 70s or even 80s.  That’s a long time working, so it is likely that we will need to inject some variety and interest into our longer working lives by switching jobs more often, changing industries, starting our own projects and even exploring different career paths.

By remembering that the next job you have, will not be your last and instead, that you will have many more working experiences over the years.  This will hopefully take some pressure away and offer some prospective.

4. Consider what you want from your career

During this time, it is important to reflect on what you ultimately want from your professional life, to ensure you are making the right career decisions.  After all, when was the last time you took stock and thought about your current situation?  Are you happy with where your career is heading, or the industry you are working in? Does your career feel meaningful and provide purpose, allowing you to do what you are naturally good at?  What about your skills – are they currently being utilised in your current role?  Perhaps there are some skills that you would like to develop?

There has never been a better time to consider your career so far and the direction that you would like to take in the future.  The changes that the pandemic has brought may also present you with an opportunity to be bold about what you truly want in your life and career.  So, use this time to reflect and be clear in your mind about exactly what you want your next career move to be – follow your dreams.  This level of clarity and focus will allow you to better target your job search, applying for only the most relevant opportunities, thus increasing your chances of success.  Not only that but this newfound understanding of what you really want will come across well in the interview, allowing you to further demonstrate why you are the best person for the job.

5. Demonstrate your relevant soft skills

Do you possess the soft skills that are not merely in demand now, but will also be increasingly sought after by employers in the months and years to come?  Furthermore, if you sitting in the interview, be it remote, would you be able to provide tangible evidence of these skills?  There are certain soft skills that you are likely to need to build on and develop in the new era of work, including adaptability, a willingness to learn, emotional intelligence, interpersonal and communication skills, problem solving skills and creativity.

Do not forgot too, that you will have developed many transferable skills over the course of your career, which may prove helpful when demonstrating your suitability for a new role.

Recent surveys have shown that people can struggle to identify their transferable skills with confidence.  So, it may be useful to speak with colleagues, both peers and reports for assistance.  Or indeed, examine recent projects you were involved with and look at what went well.  By familiarising yourself with your skill set, you will be prepared for the changing landscape and steal a competitive advantage over other candidates during the job search process.

6. Proactively address any skills gaps

If you have identified one or more skills gaps that need filling for you to move forward in your career, it is a good idea to establish a pattern of pro-activity upskilling.  Upskilling now will help to improve your chances of finding a new job, by making you more employable and demonstrating to employers your commitment to lifelong learning.  Not only this, but upskilling can help to calm any anxieties you may feel around job security and the unknowns and uncertainties about what the future may bring.  Even those who are currently self-isolating or working from home, there are various ways to up skill – including reading relevant business books, listening to podcasts, attending virtual events, conferences, and webinars, and enrolling on various online courses.  Now could be a good time to take advantage of any training and development resources your employer offers you.

7. Update your CV

Whilst we may be entering a new era of work, your CV will still be important when marketing yourself to employers, just like it was before COVID-19.  If you are unsure, consider the key aspects such as planning the structure of your CV; writing a personal statement – this being your elevator pitch on paper, summarising your key skills and experience, written to make the recruiter want to read more; and how best to showcase your skills.

Important too, is the need to optimise your CV for algorithms.  Key to this is researching keywords and ensuring your CV includes them – looking at job descriptions for your ideal role so you can determine what these keywords are and where they can be incorporated.

Finally, it is crucial that you tailor each of your job applications for each role that you apply for.

8. Perfect your personal brand

Your ‘personal brand’ in a nutshell, is how you promote yourself and it will be instrumental in your efforts to land new opportunities. So, now is a great time to fine tune your own personal brand and optimise your use of social media to showcase your expertise more advantageously. In particular, it is important to regularly update your linked in profile, adding any new skills you have learnt; sharing relevant industry news with your network and consider writing blogs to share your opinion on new developments or trends.  This will help to increase your visibility in relevant circles, hence boosting your changes of an employer finding you.

When you are updating your LinkedIn profile, adjust the setting that communicates to recruiters and employers that you are open to work and consider posting an update to your network asking for their assistance with your job search.

Use social platforms to network, such as relevant LinkedIn groups or local business chambers, sharing your expertise and seek advice from people in roles that you aspire to be in.

9. Develop remote interview skills

Remote interviewing is increasing and likely to be the new norm.  So, looking at perfecting your virtual interviewing skills, including presenting yourself in the best possible way when being interviewed via a laptop, tablet, or even mobile screen.

Whilst many of the same interview tips used for face to face interviewing will apply to remote interviewing, especially around preparation and how to best answer common interview questions.  However, there are also certain considerations that are particularly important for remote interviews.

Addressing the environment lends its-self well to video interviews – what can be seen in the background? Does the colour of your chosen outfit stand out?  Setting the scene, whether any interruptions, possibly children in the background.  Checking that you are comfortable using the technology and being aware of your body language.  By giving the chosen software a test drive, will help to address these, along with providing the opportunity to check for any time lags, so you don’t inadvertently interrupt the interviewer and ensure the right volume of speech, i.e., not too quiet or too loud.

10. Stay positive and consider your well being

These are challenging times and we are all dealing with different emotions and personal situations.  The added pressure of job searching may make an already trying situation more difficult to manage, so it is vital to stay positive.  Remind yourself of your unique strengths and the achievements you have celebrated in your career and personally to date and have faith that the right opportunity will come along.

Try to be patient and persistent, as it is unlikely you will land your dream role after a few days or weeks of searching. Know, that a suitable role will emerge if you remain determined with your search – it may just take a little longer than you would ideally wish.

In the meantime, look after your well being and take time out for yourself to unwind and relax.  Also try to approach the job search process with a growth mindset, treating it as another opportunity to learn and develop.

11. Speak to a specialist recruiter

Recruiters in your industry will be well placed to give you invaluable insights into the present state of the job market and any opportunities that may be relevant.  They can also help you to understand how you can stand out in a competitive marketplace.

Hopefully, this guidance will provide some comfort in knowing that it is possible to find a new job in the current climate and how following these steps, will help to demonstrate your value to employers to maximise your chances of job search success.