In the midst of a global pandemic and a tidal wave of layoffs, job searching has become more competitive than ever. Whether you’re recently unemployed, passively looking for a new job, or contemplating what’s next for your career, now is the time to invest in perfecting your job search strategies so you’re ready for whatever the job market has in store.
What are the best ways to invest in your career and find a way forward in a challenging, uncertain job market? These five simple strategies will help you get back to the basics and fine-tune your job search approach. By working through each of these job search tips, you’ll be in a great position to grow your career and stand out in a crowded applicant pool.
1. Refresh Your Personal Brand
Do you want to distinguish yourself as a credible, trustworthy, and skilled candidate? One of the best ways to impress a potential employer is by projecting a compelling and impressive online presence. You may have already taken steps to establish your professional brand in the past, but it’s a good idea to revisit these exercises and freshen up the narrative you tell for the next chapter of your career.
Start by conducting a personal audit to know what pops up when an employer Googles your name. Then, ask your colleagues and friends for objective feedback to understand how you are perceived. You can ask in a casual conversation or create an anonymous survey on LinkedIn or SurveyMonkey. You can also self-reflect on questions that will help clarify your professional brand.
With this information in hand, you can create a document that highlights your top skills and career goals. Reference this document on an ongoing basis to ground yourself in the professional direction you want to move in and the career narrative you want to share online. Outside of your social media presence, you can consider creating a website or blog to elevate your professional brand.
2. Brush up on Your LinkedIn Skills
Once you’ve refreshed your professional brand, it’s time to build a robust LinkedIn presence. Dedicate time to updating your headline and experience, along with requesting endorsements and recommendations from trusted coworkers and community members. In addition to sharing content pertinent to your field, you can consider writing original articles to bring value to your network.
With in-person networking events canceled for the foreseeable future, this is an ideal time to get comfortable networking online. Look for professional groups to join on LinkedIn, then find ways to join the conversation and make genuine connections. By posting relevant articles, sharing thoughtful comments, and offering your expertise, you’ll become a valuable member of these groups.
LinkedIn is also a great place to gain insights into companies that interest you. You can learn a lot about a company’s culture and leadership by how they communicate during a crisis and support their teams through difficult times.
3. Get Clear on Your Career Goals
Yes, the job market may be slowing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t accelerate your professional development. Take some time to reflect on your career direction and gain clarity about your professional goals. Keep an ongoing list of your dream companies, roles, and job titles to help ground you in your goals and organize your job search strategies.
While you’re working toward concrete career goals, get creative with how you can leverage your skills in different capacities. Consider transforming a hobby or talent into a part-time business such as selling jewelry online or offering virtual music lessons. Another way to share your talents and skills is through remote or socially distanced volunteer opportunities. Local nonprofits need volunteers to sew masks, donate meals, or deliver groceries to at-risk seniors.
During this time of reflection, you can also grow and expand your skill set by taking free online classes. This will help you advance your professional development and bolster your qualifications for when a dream opportunity arises.
4. Reach Out to Your Network
Even when you can’t meet up in person, networking is still the most effective way to boost your chances of landing an interview and getting hired. A 2016 report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Yale University indicated that 70% of jobs are found through networking. With so many professionals now working from home without business travel or conferences on the horizon, you’re likely to have a captive audience.
Before you reach out to your network for career advice, start by brainstorming ways you can offer them your support, or think about your “give” before your “get.” Acknowledge that it’s a difficult time and ask how the person is doing. By leading with empathy and offering to help, you’ll make a genuine, thoughtful impression.
When you ask someone in your network for job search support, keep your message clear and concise. In lieu of requesting an informational interview over coffee, consider suggesting a 20-minute phone or video call to discuss job search tips. Always be sure to thank the person for their time and consideration.
5. Focus on Your Transferable Skills
As you search for new job opportunities, one of the best ways to pivot into a different field is to leverage your transferable skills. Professional career planner Dawn Rosenberg McKay defines these skills as the “talents and abilities that can travel with you when you make a transition.”
Take stock of the transferable skills you can repackage in your resume and cover letter to fit the position you’re seeking. By reframing these skills to align with the job you want, you’ll be able to think and talk about your skills in new ways.
This is a time when employers are placing a strong value on employees’ adaptability. Your ability to articulate your transferable skills and illustrate your adaptability in the workplace will impress hiring managers and help set you apart in a crowded applicant pool.