STRATEGIES FOR JOB SEEKERS STUCK AT HOME
Written and curated from articles by Hannah Morgan & Lisa Rabasca Roepe
Grow New Relationships & Rekindle Old Friendships
Meeting new people online isn't as hard as you may think. First, ask yourself who you want/need to meet. These are your strategic targets. They may work in companies you are interested in, or hold a position like the one you are interested in.
Give some thought, also, to contacting old friends, or work colleagues with whom you haven’t spoken in a while. Being isolated at home is a really great excuse to reach out to people you haven’t talked to in a long time. The more people who already know you, and know that you’re looking for work, the better. Remember the “6 degrees of separation” theory? There’s a lot of truth there…you never know who your friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend knows.
Be sure that you’re letting people with their own large networks – lawyers, accountants, ministers/priests, etc. – know that you’re looking for work, and BE SPECIFIC about what you’re seeking so that they can provide specific help or referrals.
If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you need to figure that out. Or at least have a different, clear answer to give different people, depending on who you think makes up their network. That clarity acts as a call to action for those who genuinely want to help.
Allocate Time to Network on LinkedIn
Remember: LinkedIn only works for you if YOU WORK IT! Here’s how to invest just 30 minutes a day networking online with LinkedIn:
Share articles that relate to your career (always write something to explain why you are sharing the article)
View your notifications for birthdays or work anniversaries and send those connections a message on LinkedIn
Find and follow new companies of interest
Track down employees who might be able to refer you for a job at a company that interests you and ask to connect, but DO NOT ASK THEM TO HELP YOU GET A JOB. Not yet.
Look for people you may know but haven’t connected with yet.
Seek Out Like-Minded Professionals
Seek out like-minded professionals online and ask about virtual events.
Look for professional groups to join on Facebook and LinkedIn. Both platforms offer a wide range of options with groups for every profession. For instance, if you’re looking for a job in marketing, you could join LinkedIn’s Global Marketing and Communications Professionals group. Likewise, there are a dozen different groups for marketing professionals on Facebook, where you can share insights and ask questions.
Join in the conversations on both platforms: post and comment, and make yourself visible. Just be sure to keep the conversation professional and positive. Post relevant articles and chime in on topics that allow you to demonstrate your expertise.
Stay in Touch with Potential Employers
Maybe you recently had a promising interview and a job offer seemed to be on the horizon, but now the company has moved to remote work and you haven’t heard from the hiring manager. What should you do?
“Check in with the hiring manager by email, acknowledging that they might be scrambling to help their employees get used to the new setup,” says Danielle Moser, managing director and executive coach with bltCareers.
For instance, your email could say: “I’m looking forward to learning more when it makes sense for your organization.” This conveys that you know this is an extraordinary circumstance and acknowledges that this isn’t easy for people, she says.
Make sure you also demonstrate a thoughtful attitude. Rather than asking them to help you, ask if there is anything you can assist them with, Moser says. The idea is to connect with people on a human level.
Let’s say you’re contacting someone you’ve networked with in the past. Your email can simply say: “I wanted to reach out to see if there’s anything I can do for you. You’ve been so generous with your time, I want to return the favor if I can.” If you have a specific skill a hiring manager might be able to tap into, mention it. You might say: “Given that I’ve led virtual teams, I might have some ideas to share on how to keep your employees feeling connected when they’re not in the office.”
“Networking should be driven by what the company needs and how it matches up with your superpower,” Moser says. “It’s also an opportunity to demonstrate what type of employee you would be.”
And find other ways to stay top of mind in addition to email. For instance, connect with the hiring manager on LinkedIn and, if they post a status, comment on it. If the hiring manager posts a company report or press release, make a comment that illustrates you read it and have valuable insight to contribute. Pretend you’re giving them a preview of what you’d add to the team if you worked there.
The COVID-19 crisis can provide a unique glimpse into company culture. Take note of how
leadership deals with this emergency and treats its employees by following the company on social media and watching for any media coverage, says Heidi Parsont, CEO and founder of TorchLight Hire. For instance, is the company allowing employees to work from home? Are they supporting workers in other creative ways? Did they lay off staff?
Set up Google alerts for the companies you want to work for and listen to investor calls. When you do have a chance to interview, you’ll be able to demonstrate that you understand the concerns leadership has and the threats the company faces from this pandemic, she says. You can mention what you read and listened to and use your specific knowledge to drive home how you could help the company achieve its goals if hired.
Be Prepared to Pivot
Think about your role more broadly and possibly pivot to an adjacent position that would also make use of your experience and skills. For instance, you might have been targeting a marketing role but with fewer people spending money, the company might be more inclined to hire someone for a communications role during this crisis. “Play the long game,” says Laura Labovich, CEO of the Career Strategy Group. “There is a lot of shifting going on right now.”
Boost Your Skills
Now is the perfect time to work on bolstering your qualifications, Moser says. Analyze job descriptions by listing each required skill and experience. Then consider whether you have that exact skill, if you have the skill but haven’t used it in a few years, or if you’re lacking the skill entirely. Use that information to determine what you need to brush up on to make yourself an even better candidate when the job market picks up again.
For instance, if you’re applying for social media or marketing specialist positions, the listing will likely require experience with Google Analytics and Hootsuite. Being certified in either or both would make your resume stand out.
There are plenty of free online course including MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), EdX classes (featuring free courses from MIT and Harvard), and free Microsoft training and tutorials. You can also access thousands of free courses and videos via LinkedIn Learning.
During an economic slowdown, it’s important to focus on what you can control—improving your skills and reaching out to your network, Parsont says. “You can lay the groundwork now so that when the crisis is over you have opened doors and rekindled relationships.”