Searching for Work in the Era of Covid-19

The novel Corornavirus has upended much of the way that we has a community do things. Businesses have shut their doors (unfortunately, many of them for good), online shopping has hit an all time high, and ordering delivery is becoming the norm for those who can afford it. It’s hit the job market hard too, with traditional entry level positions such as retail and hospitality being particularly vulnerable. While many jobs can move to the virtual setting, such as teaching, writing, accounting, and other positions – there are many jobs which simply cannot be done virtually and so it has become difficult for those working in that field to carry on.

While there has been an increase in supports from the government – for example, the CERB has been extended eight more weeks for those who are still out of job due to Covid, the fact is that most people still want or need to be employed and those who are no longer employed have to look to their future now before the supports run dry. How does one start searching for work in the era of Covid-19? What changes to the usual system can you expect and where should you start looking with many of the traditional entry points now closed?

Be Flexible

There are still plenty of jobs out there (a quick perusal of gov.ca’s job bank for example has many, many jobs, all broken down by type and industry), but you may have to do a pivot from your old industry and look with fresh eyes. Do not forget the importance of your transferable skills. One of the big benefits of many entry level positions is that you do get so many transferable skills, such as customer service, time management, handling money, working to a deadline and more. These skills are generally useful for no matter what you are doing next, so don’t leave them off your resume if you think your next employer may want them!

Now, when we say be flexible, we do not mean apply for every single job you see in a blind panic. Remember that your resume still must be targeted to the company and the position and that you want to ensure you are applying for businesses you actually want to work for and will do well in, not just for whatever is out there. That sort of scattershot approach of ‘apply for all the things’ is also hard to keep track of, hard to personalize, and will just lead you to treating it as something to check off your daily list rather than getting the attention and care it deserves. Take the time to study job boards, pare the offerings down to things you feel like you want to do and could do, and then target your resumes for a handful of jobs, not everything in sight.

Another layer of this is the estimated spike in seasonal work and temp work to cover when people are likely to get sick or to fill short term demand as businesses pivot to deal with the longer-term results of the pandemic. You may also see a spike in the demand for local short term employment for businesses that are making shifts. An example of this? Delivery drivers for businesses that didn’t used to offer delivery and are now trying it out.

More Online Recruiting and Interviewing

One of the biggest changes we expect to see is a real swing up to virtual interviews. Hiring managers are more often than not working from home or working outside of their office, more and more work is being done remotely, and people don’t want to risk bringing strangers into their social bubble, so there’s been a stronger push to do more interviews over video.

This means that it’s really important to have your game face on point when it comes to video chats. Yes, you are doing the interview likely from home and that gives you some more flexibility, but you still have to treat it as though you were in the building. Wear your best clothing, make sure you smile, and remember the usual etiquette. On top of that, it’s critical to ensure that you have a quiet and clean space to do your interview, that your computer is running properly and that you are close to your internet connection so that you reduce the risk of suddenly dropping out. It’s not a bad idea to go somewhere else to do your interview if you’re worried about getting interrupted by pets, kids and family members.

If you’re not doing a video chat, it’s more likely that you may be doing a phone interview and even if you’re doing the traditional face to face interview, it’s likely going to be with careful physical distancing which will impact how you conduct yourself. If nothing else, you’ll have to determine whether it will be necessary to wear a mask or not!

Keep Your Network Humming

It’s always important to keep your network strong and just because you can’t get together for a coffee very well anymore, doesn’t mean you can’t keep up with your circles. Let your network know what’s going on with your employment situation and keep connected with your people and businesses to see what sort of opportunities are available. Remember that the majority of work comes from the hidden job market – opportunities via people you know, not necessarily what you know. Take advantage of the opportunities that others may have on offer, even if it’s a little out of your wheelhouse.

You can also do things to add to your network. This includes volunteering, going back to school, and attending now virtual events that may be of interest to you. You may not be able to meet face to face anymore, but people still have a knack for building communities.

Take Time to Assess Yourself

Things are changing and it’s likely that we’re not going to see a return to what life was like as little as seven months ago. The workforce has been upended, the work culture has been radically altered, and the way that jobs are being filled is changing. It’s a freaky time to be alive!

It’s important to not just take time to look for work, but also to assess where you are and what you want to be doing. It may simply be hard to get work right now and even if you do, you may not get the full-time hours you are accustomed to. Take time to do assessments on your finances, your spending habits, your needs, and what sort of work you want to take on to fulfill the rest of your needs in life. Cut out subscriptions, reduce shopping for things you don’t need, and take a look at the local markets for things like food and products. Not only does it feel better to help support local (and frankly, the prices of local products are starting to match the prices of more widespread commercial products anyway), but that itself can build up your network! Remember to check in on your mental and physical health regularly and take the time to set some new goals.

The job search during Covid is a little different, but as we move through these unprecedented times, you also have a unique opportunity to position yourself for the other side. Brush up on your tech skills, get video chat ready, target your resume, and keep your network going. Good luck and stay healthy!