How to Find and Start a New Job From Home
As if a contagious, life-threatening virus spreading around the world wasn’t stressful enough, millions of people across the country have now found themselves without a job – due to the coronavirus pandemic’s effects on the economy and as a result of several workplaces being closed at the moment. According to The Washington Post, more than 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits in the last week of March 2020 alone.
While it might seem like all hope is lost and you should just sit back and wait out this storm, now is actually a great time to get ahead of the pack and start your job hunt – or continue it if you were already searching pre-pandemic. “Focus on the elements within your control,” says psychologist, career expert, and author of Own Your Greatness Dr. Richard Orbé-Austin. “Many people who are currently in the job hunt are tempted to quit the process. However, I encourage them to continue to put in the effort, because companies are still hiring, and it will be important to be in the pipeline, even if the hiring process is a bit delayed due to COVID-19.”
Sure, the job market isn’t thriving right now and you can’t hit up networking cocktail events and rub elbows with potential employers, as you might have done in the past, but with a little grit, patience, and creativity you can kickstart your job search.
We checked in with several career experts to get their advice on how to go about finding a job right now, and how you can start working from home.
Freshen Up Your Resume, Cover Letter and LinkedIn profile
While this job hunt experience will differ from the norm in many ways, when it comes to presenting yourself as a viable candidate, have a well-crafted cover letter, comprehensive resume, engaging LinkedIn profile, and appropriate social media presence. “Make sure your resume, cover letter, and social media profile are updated and send an extremely professional impression,” says Ron Auerbach, author of Think Like an Interviewer. “Use this period of unemployment to improve these job search materials and get them in great shape.”
If you don’t have an online presence yet, don’t wait to create a professional online profile. Auerbach points out that since more and more people are currently working remotely, they are relying more heavily on sources like LinkedIn and social media accounts for their job searches.
Also, “if you have any, even just a little bit of remote working experience under your belt, make sure you highlight it. Even the smallest advantage could make a big difference,” Auerbach adds.
Find Companies That Are Hiring
Based on news headlines and unemployment stats it might seem like nobody is hiring at the moment. While it’s true that many companies have had to lay off or furlough staff, there are still jobs out there – you just might need to dig a little deeper to find them. “A huge mistake job seekers are making is the presumption that since physical locations are shut, that means they won't be hiring or needing you. That's not necessarily true!” says Auerbach.
If you don’t see listings on job boards, search for contact details on company websites and try contacting them directly. “Remember that a lot of businesses have moved to keeping operations running to an extent by using online and remote workers and activities,” he adds.
When searching for current job openings, you should also pay attention to the industries that are thriving right now. “You may need to widen your job options, given that some industries may be more adversely affected by the current situation,” says Orbé-Austin. For example, if you worked in the tourism industry in the past, you might find your skills and experience transfer well to a position in the healthcare industry or online grocery field.
Don’t Forget the Importance of Networking
Networking is always an important element of job hunting. “Only 5 to 10 percent of jobs are gotten through cold online applications, with more than 70 percent secured through networking,” says Orbé-Austin. While it is certainly more challenging to go about networking while under quarantine at home, it is not impossible.
Whether it’s an old colleague, a classmate or someone you’ve been following on LinkedIn, it never hurts to reach out and see if someone would be interested in catching up and connecting over the phone or via video chat. “Now is not the time to worry about how you’re being perceived,” says Colleen McCreary, Chief People Officer at Credit Karma. “Many people are looking for ways they can be helpful, so this is the best time to ask for a virtual coffee meeting, an introduction, or advice. It’s always flattering to be asked.”
Consider that it is likely many of your contacts now have more free time and will be open to chat with you. (They, too, may be looking for a new position) Will Bachman, co-founder & Managing Partner of Umbrex says you can mention that you are job hunting, but first “check-in to see how people are doing, and catch up on their journey since the last time you spoke.”
Even when the economy is doing well the job market can be competitive, so you will want to make extra effort to stand out from other candidates.
You might post a message on social media stating that you are available for work, or create a video application and post it on YouTube, highlighting your graphic design skills online, or creating a blog post to share your expertise in a certain field. “It’s somewhat common to see employers utilize their social media platforms to announce employment opportunities, but recently I met a candidate that did the reverse,” says Ilysa Raphael, Vice President of Marketing at Power Home Remodeling. “She posted on her social media account asking if anyone is hiring and it was an amazing tactic.”
Bachman adds: “Create content on a field you are an expert in – your industry or your function. Interview experts in the fields you’re interested in. It is satisfying to hit “publish” and share content with the world – it gives a sense of agency and purpose, and eventually it can create a body of work that increases your credibility with a future employer ... if you are out in the market creating content and contributing to the conversation, it is a good way to get noticed.”
Prepare for Digital Interviews
You have most likely had phone interviews for jobs, but going through the entire interview process on the phone or via webcam will take some getting used to.
The key is to treat it as you would a regular interview, including dressing for the part and preparing answers and questions accordingly. “Just because you aren’t in an office setting doesn’t make your interview less serious of an opportunity,” says Raphael. “Your appearance should be as professional as if it were in person, at least from the waist up, so ask the HR Rep what they recommend and follow those directions. Make sure you are maintaining eye contact with the interviewer and paying attention — no matter what your screen shows, the interviewer can always see you.”
While you might be concerned about your dogs barking or your kids interrupting the interview process, Raphael says not to be too concerned about this, as “everyone understands the circumstances we’re all facing,” she adds.
Sharpen Skills and Be Patient
It might be difficult to remain positive at this time, but if you persevere things will eventually turn around. Since most HR teams are working remotely, the standard application and interview process will likely take longer than usual. You have to be patient with the process and with yourself.
Bachman recommends using this time to sharpen skills that may have become rusty and try learning some new ones. “Any knowledgeable worker should be an expert at Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Those who have relied on subordinates to build an Excel model, for example, should refresh their Microsoft Excel skills and re-learn how to do pivot tables or create charts,” he says.
“Job hunters should also use this time to develop new skills relevant to today's market, and the good news is that there is a nearly unlimited range of free or very affordable resources, such as edx.org, Udacity, Coursera, or LinkedIn Learning to develop skills in areas such as data science, search engine optimization, or graphic design.”
Know That You Might Have to Start a Job at Home
You got the job. Congratulations! Now, to start. Normally, when you take on a new role, you’d go into the workplace, meet all your colleagues and get a lay of the land, but in this case – unless you’re an essential worker on the front lines – that will likely have to wait. “If you do land a new job and you’re starting virtually, make sure you and your new manager make a plan around how you can integrate seamlessly, not just to the company and the work you need to do, but to the social customs and people,” says McCreary.
She adds that you should block out time to attend the work gatherings you might have skipped in the past, such as virtual happy hours or open meetings. “You have to work hard to not be the invisible new person.”
From freshening up your LinkedIn profile to having a networking coffee over FaceTime and developing new skills on Coursera, there are a number of ways you can develop your career profile and work towards that goal of landing a new job, even during these unsettling times. Just remember to have patience throughout the process.
Blog Credit: AskMen.com