8 Considerations for Job Searching During the Coronavirus

By Madison White on May 26, 2020

Job searching looks very different now than it did just a few months ago. For recent or upcoming graduates, this poses a huge dilemma. So what is a college student to do during this pandemic?

1. Be open to short term or imperfect jobs

Even the best-laid plans can be disrupted. While planning for your future after college, you likely didn’t think that your search would be interrupted by a global pandemic. Nevertheless, the search continues even if it does look significantly different than it did before.

You may have had plans to move or work for a company that has ceased operations because of the coronavirus. Unfortunately, this means that for many graduates, their plans are being put on hold. While you likely worked very hard in college for a specific goal or career, you may have to come to terms with the fact that you may be waiting a bit longer for those dreams to materialize.

Realistically, it will be a while before hiring goes back to similar levels. With many companies furloughing employees or laying them off completely, it is unlikely that they will be hiring again until things begin to improve. Your inability to find a job that you want does not reflect your value as an employee, but simply the state of the economy.

Because the perfect job may not be available right now, you will likely have to adjust your initial search. This means that you may need to be open to short term or imperfect roles that become available. In the meantime, you may take up a role that has little to do with the career that you really want to pursue. For many students, graduating is an exciting but also scary leap into real adulthood. One of the realities of adulthood is doing what you need to do to put food on the table and continue paying your bills. Remember to think of these jobs as temporary stepping stones. They will not be the thing that you will have to do forever. They are just something to get by while the world adjusts.

Of course, taking on temporary roles may not be possible for people that live in areas where nothing is available or are immunocompromised and cannot interact with the public. If this is the case, focus instead on what you can do in the safety of your home. You may want to look into some freelance opportunities that might arise or continue networking for future roles.

2. Know that companies will still be hiring in the future

As stated before, the world is different now. It may never return to the way things were before the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean that it will be in this limbo forever. You may be discouraged at the dismal job market and that your many years of hard work in college have seemingly gone to waste. This is not the case. While things may be this way right now, things will open up again in the future. Maintain that sense of hope that your perfect role is out there and you can find something that you will be happy doing, you might just have to wait a little longer than expected.

3. Network digitally

Many large networking events and conferences have been canceled because of safety concerns. This means that networking with industry professionals has now moved entirely online. This is a benefit because it means that you can connect with people regardless of where you are. Now is a great time to reach out to people in the industry and ask questions. Be on the lookout for digital conferences and events that have popped up in place of the ones that have been canceled. These will likely be free and open access to the public. This is a great resource for learning from industry professionals from the comfort of your own home.

Additionally, you can always look at networking platforms like LinkedIn to get in touch with others. These platforms are likely to be even more active than they were before. They are great resources for starting conversations with people in your industry as well as finding out about various digital conferences and other programs.

4. Get in touch with those who you already have connections with

If you’re someone who really plans ahead, you may have already been job hunting well before the coronavirus pandemic began. In fact, it is entirely possible that you already had a job lined up or at least a couple of leads on some positions. Unfortunately, these opportunities might have fallen through as companies moved to remote work and decreased the number of positions available or gotten rid of jobs altogether. This is unfortunate because it may feel like all your hard work has just disappeared.

Just because those positions and roles may be gone at the moment doesn’t mean that they may be gone forever. Although it may be tempting to just drop all of those contacts now that the job is no longer on the table, you might want to rethink doing that. It can be a great idea to stay in touch with hiring managers and others that were interested in you before the pandemic began. While the opportunity may be delayed, you never know when an opening might appear again. Try sending messages to reach out to them and thank them for their time and show your understanding of the current situation. You may want to also ask them what you could be doing to improve your own skills which waiting or talk about the things you’ve been working on. This shows that you are still interested in them and hopefully will put you at the top of the list if something does become available in the future.

5. Learn more about the companies you are interested in

One benefit of the current situation is that you can see how companies are reacting when put in difficult situations. Often, when you join a company you are sold the idea that they are the best and treat their employees very well. This may not always be the case. Right now is a great time to do a bit of research on the companies you are interested in working for. How are they treating their employees at the moment? Are they laying them off or furloughing them? Are they allowing them sick leave or forcing them to come to work? Have the top executives taken a pay cut? All of these are important things to know about what the company really values.

While you may have been extremely interested in a company before the pandemic began, this could very easily change based on how they’ve handled the situation. If they have treated their workers poorly and shown that they do not value them as human beings, then you may want to consider how they would treat you in the future. Do you really want to be just another warm body that makes them money or do you want to be valued and appreciated for your work? It can be devastating to find out that a company you really liked isn’t actually as great as you once thought they were. In fact, many companies are showing their true colors and unveiling what they actually care about. On the other side, perhaps a company you were only mildly interested in has shown fantastic leadership during this crisis. This could very well boost your interest in places that really connect with your values.

You can usually find out more by googling the company and looking at recent news articles. They will often disclose if they are furloughing or laying off workers, especially if they are a large organization. You can also search the company on social media and see if any workers are posting about how they’ve been treated during the pandemic.

6. Update your current resume and cover letter

When it comes to job hunting advice, one of the first things they mention is updating and improving your resume and cover letter. This is crucial because, without these things, you won’t even get past the first stage of hiring.

Now that times are changing, you will likely have to change your resume and cover letter again to fit the needs of the industry. You should think about how the industry will look in a few months and what they will be searching for. It may be different than what is currently on your resume. You may want to mention things like working remotely or additional IT skills that you may have. If you have been improving other skills during this time, it would be great to add those to your resume so that it shows that you are focused on always getting better even in difficult times.

On the other hand, you will probably need a different resume and cover letter if you are applying for short term or temporary jobs. You won’t want to submit something that focuses solely on your education and industry-specific skills and qualifications that they may not understand. While you may be overqualified for these positions, you don’t want to make it seem like you are above doing the work that they are looking for. You should instead craft this resume and cover letter around your previous work experiences and how you are as a team player and employee. Do you handle stress well? Can you follow instructions? These things will be very important to managers who are hiring at this time. Focusing on these in your cover letter and resume will make it easier to land one of these roles.

7. Develop your skills

Now that the college semester is ending for many students, you may be wondering what to do with your time. Now is a perfect time to work on and develop skills that will be useful in the future. There are a variety of online platforms that offer education in almost anything you can think of. You could take classes to improve your IT skills or perhaps something management focused. Because of the pandemic, many platforms have also lowered their prices to make these classes more affordable or made them entirely free. You may also want to consider taking online courses through your university or through a nearby community college.

8. Reflect on your career wants and needs

While daily life has slowed down considerably, it is a great time to pause and reflect on what you actually want out of your career. Many college students go through college being pushed in certain ways by their parents, professors, and peers. They do not always take the time to consider what it is that they truly want to do and what will really make them happy. You might have thought that money was the most important factor when really it is something that makes you feel like you are making a difference. Now is the perfect time to really stop and think about what it is that you want to be doing and make a game plan for achieving those dreams. Your dreams could look very different now than they did a few months ago and that is totally okay! If the pandemic has also made it seem like your dreams are impossible now, it is also okay to just try and figure out what your next step will be rather than plan your whole career. As you know now, even carefully laid plans can be changed and interrupted.

Conclusion

Job searching is always a difficult task for anybody regardless of their circumstances. Job searching right now is even more harrowing, frustrating, and tedious. While the economic conditions are certainly not ideal, do not give up hope that you will never be able to pursue the future that you want. You may simply have to take a short detour to get there or simply wait a little longer than you expected. Think about the things that you can do right now to help improve your working life. Someday things will be better.

Madison graduated with her Master's degree in Creative Writing from the University of Manchester (UK), and holds Bachelor's degrees in English and Creative Writing from Wichita State University. She currently teaches English at Wichita State University and works as a freelance writer and blogger on her website Madison White Writes and elsewhere.

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