It's a tough time to be looking for work as lives and livelihoods have come under incredible pressure during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Job hunters, recruiters and employers are struggling with personal and professional challenges.
Organisations are facing difficult decisions and an uncertain future with border closures, supply disruptions and changing customer trends.
Some businesses and industries are hiring but there is more competition with different types of jobs.
Here are ten tips for job hunting during tough times.
1. Find out which sectors and employers are hiring
Essential services have continued hiring workers during the pandemic. These services include agriculture, food production, transport, supermarkets, delivery and courier companies, protective equipment suppliers and health sector workers.
Explore beyond advertised jobs to similar companies or roles where there may be vacancies in future. Remember that many jobs are secured through networking and referrals.
We can, for example, expect to see more jobs for workers in agriculture, forestry and fisheries, health and support services, tradespeople, telecommunications and security roles, remote working suppliers and online learning providers.
2. Use social media to raise your profile and find jobs
Make sure your LinkedIn profile is active and looks professional. Clean up other social media accounts like Facebook and Instagram (if you need to). This is where many recruiters check out your background and experience.
Strengthen your professional networks by joining LinkedIn groups. Follow companies you are interested in on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram to learn more about their work culture, industry trends and potential job openings.
3. Carry out informational interviews
These are structured conversations by phone or video chat (using Zoom or alternative) talking to people who work for target employers or in areas of interest. These research interviews will expand your networks and open up potential opportunities.
Prepare questions to ask like – ‘what problems are you facing at the moment?’, ‘where are new opportunities likely to open up?’ or ‘who else do you recommend I talk to?’. Avoid putting pressure on and directly asking for a job if they are not actively recruiting.
4. Try different tactics to stand out from the crowd
Be proactive and ask for a video conference. This will help you build rapport with a recruiter or potential employer and has more impact than leaving a phone message.
Consider producing a short quality video or an online presentation with diagrams and text which would give recruiters and employers a snapshot of what you have to offer, rather than relying on a resume and covering letter.
5. Display your remote working capability
Show your confidence and competence using video-conferencing to reinforce your communication skills and ability to work from home. Highlight relevant soft skills, like time management and written communication, to demonstrate how you can work remotely.
Test video-conferencing equipment and your screen sharing set-up in advance so there are no hiccups during calls.
6. Convey flexibility and adaptability
Hiring companies and recruiters are dealing with difficult decisions during times of uncertainty and working in different ways, including more remote working, video conferencing and increased automation.
Showing adaptability could be the key difference between a job offer or no job offer. Be open to part time roles, different locations, flexible start dates or changing roles.
7. Expect the job search to take longer
Companies are adjusting to doing business remotely using virtual processes, including interviewing and hiring remotely, so expect the recruitment process to take more time.
Employers are dealing with difficult situations personally and professionally so this is not the time to be pushy with too many follow-ups in a short space of time.
This could be the perfect time to refresh your knowledge and skills (or retrain for a new career) to help you secure the right job in future.
8. Consider new ways to leverage your talents and skills
Are gaps being overlooked in an industry or occupation where you have expertise e.g. trouble-shooting, mentoring or customer support needs not being addressed?
Do you have technology or specialised skills that could help someone be more efficient or profitable? Can you leverage your sector knowledge in a different capacity combined with learning new skills?
Could you work as an external consultant or adviser for key projects or mentor the next generation in your area of expertise?
Would you consider moving location for a better lifestyle eg. from a busy city commute to a more relaxed rural location?
9. Stick with a job hunting system
Set daily and weekly job hunting tasks and review how you are getting on. Make these goals specific e.g. ‘three informational interviews per week’ or ‘four networking calls per day’. If you set one priority job seeking task every day and stick to it, you will make progress.
Restrict the amount of time you spend on job boards (e.g. a maximum of an hour per day). Your time will be better utilised networking and seeking out referrals than going where there are fewer jobs and many more job seekers.
10. Stay positive and proactive
Take care of your health and wellbeing with regular exercise, healthy eating, and catching up with friends to brighten your day. A regular sleep routine will boost energy levels.
It takes a delicate balance to pursue opportunities in a positive and proactive way without being pushy, at the same time persevering and staying positive when things are taking longer than anticipated.