Many people think job seeking has to stop during the current lockdown, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Here’s why…
The challenging times we are currently living through have placed many job searches on hold. Interviews have been cancelled, recruitment processes postponed indefinitely, and job seekers left in limbo. But not everywhere: I am still seeing clients secure interviews and job offers, and new job opportunities are emerging in professions that are currently in demand due to the effects of the pandemic.
I’m also seeing many people make the most of the current hiatus to really hone their online presence, polish and update their CVs, build their skills and knowledge base and prepare thoroughly for their next foray into the job market. Some of these people were already job seekers before the current crisis hit; others have lost work or been furloughed due to coronavirus and are facing varying degrees of uncertainty about their long-term employment future. These kinds of worries can add another layer of stress to that caused by coronavirus itself, so it’s important to build in time for rest and relaxation as well as taking positive steps to help create the future you want.
One of the most common things I currently find myself saying to clients is: slow down. If you’re used to checking jobs websites every day for vacancies, dial this back to once a week or every two weeks. Take a pause, turn inward and take time to get to know yourself better and decide what you really want to do with your career, and how you can get there. Look at how you come across online, from your personal social media accounts to your LinkedIn profile. Better still, get a friend or a job coach to take a look and give you their view. Get them to check your CV too: it’s amazing how many people tell me they haven’t updated theirs for months or even years.
You can also use this time to link up with people who could help your career: old work buddies, your previous boss, and contacts at companies you want to work for. Get them chatting – after all, they are probably at home too and may well have more time to talk. You could ask former clients and colleagues to provide references and testimonials, and offer to do the same for people you can help. Check for organised online networking opportunities too: some networking groups are holding interesting online events during lockdown.
You can also use the time for learning. From Coursera to Udemy to LinkedIn Learning, there are now numerous online learning platforms offering courses in everything from digital marketing to IT. Consider the job you want, and which courses and qualifications would help you get there. Many courses are currently being offered at reduced prices, or even for free.
If you do apply for a job and secure an interview, be prepared to do this online. A job coach or friend can help you rehearse. Many of the things you need to consider will be the same as for a face-to-face interview: you need to dress smartly, take care of your body language and give well thought-out answers. But there are other factors to consider too: if you have children, try to ensure you will remain undisturbed during the interview – ideally by getting someone else in your household to mind them. If that is not possible, talk to them about the fact that the interview is important and they must not interrupt you, and set them up with something that will keep them occupied for the duration. If you still get interrupted, don’t get too stressed about this: deal with it calmly and remember that most people are working from home, so your interviewer will probably empathise.
Think about your setting too: try to position yourself and your computer so that you are well-lit and the room in the background looks organised and tidy. When it comes to clothing for video calls, I recommend avoiding busy patterns which can be distracting on the screen. Set the camera up so that the interviewer can see any hand movements you make as you talk; this will make you seem far more expressive.
As part of your preparation for the interview, make sure you know how the software works. Check that the camera and microphone are working properly, and make sure your profile picture looks professional. Have a glass of water to hand and remember that in a video interview it’s easier to have notes beside you, and maybe also a pen and paper so that you can jot down any important points you want to come back to.
Some video interviews will not be carried out in person: HireVue interviews involve giving videoed answers to pre-set questions. The recording is then sent to the recruiter. This can be a disconcerting and impersonal process, so consider getting a friend or job coach to run through it with you. Remember that even when there is nobody there interviewing you, you need to look into the camera to create a sense of eye contact with the person who will be watching it.
Regardless of whether you are applying for jobs or using this time to position yourself well for future job applications, remember to go easy on yourself. These are trying times, and self-care is very important, especially as the job application and interview process can be stressful in themselves. Also – don’t get disheartened. This period will pass, and it doesn’t mean there are no jobs – things may be trickier, but making progress, and maybe even securing your dream job, is still possible.