How To Look For A Job During The COVID-19 Pandemic

Job search rules for an uncertain world.


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Last updated: September 18th, 2023

How to find a job during coronavirus

Last updated: September 18th, 2023

Reading Time: 8 minutes

I don’t like it when writers use the word “unprecedented” in the opening paragraph. I think it’s lazy. For example, someone writing a piece about the future of work may be tempted to kick off with “we live in unprecedented times”.

In doing so, they prop up the sentence with a generic superlative – instead of doing the hard work of describing what makes the period novel and challenging.

The COVID-19 crisis – and its effects on candidates’ job search prospects, however, qualifies for an exception to this rule.

For jobseekers like you, the experience of 2020 truly is unprecedented – and you’re now in a unique position of having to figure out how to adapt.

In that light, allow me to say something that I’ve never written before, and am hoping to never write again:

We are living through unprecedented times.

Currently, Australia’s Coronavirus infection rate is much lower than that of other Western economies. By most measures, we’ve succeeded at flattening the curve.

coronavirus job search
(Source: ABC)

This result came at a cost. Extreme lockdown measures have forced nearly 30% of Australian businesses to reduce staff since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, with 22% expecting to do the same in coming months.

Australia’s workforce has been severely impacted by the pandemic, with the effects likely to be felt for years, if not decades.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably one of many who have experienced adverse impact.

You’re Stronger Than This.

First of all, I’d like to acknowledge you for being a fighter.

Tough times reveal our true nature. It’s easy to coast along during the good times. When times get tough, however, the real movers and shakers amongst us become apparent.

You’re here because you’ve decided to be the author of your destiny. You’ve decided to not be at the effect of your circumstances. For that, I tip my hat to you.

To do my part, I’d like to share with you a number of steps that you can take to maximise your job search efficiency and – if you’ve found yourself without employment – minimise your time without a steady income.

Let’s do this.

I’d like to begin by mapping out the latest strategic landscape.

(Related: How To Get Maximum Redundancy Entitlements).

The Current State Of The Job Market.

Some organisations have maintained steady hiring throughout March and April (and a few, mainly in supply chain and medical sectors, have increased their hiring efforts).

Overall, however, hiring slowdowns and/or freezes have become the new norm, as most organisations focus on minimising risk and restructuring for survival.

finding a job coronavirus

What will happen next?

Australia’s economic path is still uncertain – and it’s difficult to make predictions right now.

That being said, now that the Australian Federal Government and most State Governments have begun to ease restrictions, I’m expecting to see a gradual thawing out of the job search market.

If you’d like to get a job in this environment, here are the 5 key things that you need to focus on.

1. Get Your Resume In Order.

Now, more than ever, a well-written resume and a polished LinkedIn profile are instrumental.

More candidates will be competing for less available positions, which means the deck will be stacked against you, the job seeker. To shift the odds back in your favour, ensure that your resume, cover letter and any other career documents you submit are as sharp as they can be.

Keep in mind that post-Coronavirus work environments will value characteristics such as flexibility, adaptability, agility, cross-functional capability and emotional intelligence.

Make sure your career documents sell you as someone who possesses those traits, but go beyond just listing them. For example, it’s not good enough to describe yourself as “a flexible, adaptable, emotionally intelligent IT project manager”.f

Instead, indicate and imply that you possess these traits by showcasing strong, quantified achievements that you delivered by drawing upon those characteristics.

Need more help? No problem. The resume writing guides that I’ve linked to above will help.

If you really get stuck, or decide to unequivocally position yourself as a candidate of choice, consider using my bespoke branding services for senior business leaders) – we’ve already helped dozens of candidates land roles in Sydney, Melbourne and beyond, despite the tough job market conditions.

2. Virtually Network Your Butt Off.

There’s a lot of advice out there that tells you to join LinkedIn Groups and to “sincerely” check in to see if your LinkedIn connections are doing OK.

Let me address the latter piece of advice first.

There’s nothing sincere about reaching out to someone after being instructed to do so by a piece of Internet job search advice – and doing so as a thinly veiled attempt at increasing your odds of job search success.

This practice was borderline OK 5+ years ago, before we ruined it with precisely this type of outreach.

Today, it makes people cringe.

The top dogs – high-value people who you are trying to connect with – will see through the ploy right away and ignore you.

The people who play along will mostly be the B-players who will view you as a lame duck that they, too, can “sincerely” game. You’ll end up with a low-quality network that’s tied by inauthentic bonds. Worst of all, you’ll think that you’re playing them while they’ll be doing the same to you. ‘Nuff said.

Don’t bother with LinkedIn Groups, either.

Once upon a time, these were devised as online destinations for like-minded professionals.

Today, they’re vile cesspools of opportunistic, creepy marketers. You won’t see any networking occur in those groups, but you will see your feed polluted by people’s half-baked attempts at content marketi… I mean, thought leadership.

What’s the best way to network on LinkedIn? I’ll show you in a moment. But before then, I need to mention this.

Authentic connections are created on real foundations.

Before you reach out to anyone, you must get in touch – deeply – with who you are and what you bring to the table. Pour yourself a cup of tea, sit in your favourite chair and meditate on this question:

“Which unique commercial problems am I known for – and enjoy – solving?”

Here, I’m inviting you to explore the core of your commercial value. You’ll be tempted to skip this step, but if you do, you’ll be diluting the effectiveness of your upcoming networking efforts.

  • For example, you may be a CMO with an unusually strong background in analytics, operations, sales and CX. This broad generalist base enables you to understand how pieces of the strategic organisational puzzle fit together. (Sidenote: you may be a perfect fit for progressive organisations that are toying with the idea of hiring a Chief Growth Officer).
  • You may be a “turnaround” person who enjoys rebuilding underperforming teams in E-commerce environments.
  • You may be a finance and risk professional who enjoys partnering with the C-suite – because you’re able to translate raw data into meaningful, simple business insights.

See the common threads in those examples?

  • Passion.
  • Contribution.

They are essential foundations of your relationship-building attempts. Get in touch with yours – because in the next step you’ll be connecting with potential bosses and team-mates, either because they value your contribution or because they share your passion.

Ready? Watch this video to learn how:

3. Prepare Yourself For Video Interviews.

Congratulations! You have secured a job interview. You’re about to impress your potential employer and decide whether this role is for you.

Wait, what?

It’s a video interview?

Don’t stress. Prepare for it as you would for a normal interview, but be responsible for the following additional factors:

  • Make sure that you’re comfortable with the technology. Do a couple of trial runs on your spouse or friend. Companies will be looking for people who are at ease with relevant tech.
  • Remove digital distractions. If you’re still in any form of employment, make sure that Slack or Teams are OFF. The last thing you want popping up on your screen during an interview is a message from a team-mate, boss or a client.
  • Remove physical distractions. Make sure that the dog is locked up and won’t bark. Hang a “Do not come in” sign on your door. Send the kids to play with grandma. Among employers’ top concerns about hiring remote teams is that of distractions. Don’t give them more to worry about by having your interview invaded by a tearful 2-year-old.
  • Pay attention to your lighting and background. Like it or not, people respond positively to attractive people in professional settings. The video below outlines a few simple rules that photographers and video professionals use to create the right type of impact.

4. Go Where The Jobs Are.

My friends in recruitment are telling me that the competition for roles is the last few weeks has often been “fierce”.

Rather than fighting for the few opportunities in your current vertical, consider pivoting to areas of the job market where the demand for your skills is high.

Admittedly, companies that are surge-hiring are mostly doing so to fill entry-level roles – warehouse workers, food delivery drivers, couriers, customer service professionals, etc.

That being said, this demand comes hand-in-hand with increased demand for mid-level and senior roles. Use these resources to start your search:

Next, use LinkedIn’s advanced search filters to look for roles in these sectors:

  • E-Commerce And Online Retail. Due to the increase in online orders, companies are adapting their businesses to run solely online.
  • Software and IT services. In the technology industry alone, the rate of recruitment has grown by 17.3%, outgrowing healthcare, which currently sits at 12.6%.
  • Logistics & Supply Chain As people around the world are blocked from leaving their homes, products and services will need to be delivered.

5. Consider Remote Work.

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed flexible work arrangements, especially telework, in the spotlight.

Many employers were forced to implement flexible work options on the fly – and quickly become comfortable hiring fully remote employees.

covid jobsearch

The share of job postings that advertise remote or flexible work arrangements has been steadily rising for the past year. We’ve seen that trend accelerating in recent weeks.

I fully expect that the Coronavirus will make work from home arrangements more commonplace.

(Related: How To Choose The Best Stand-Up Desk For Your Home Office).

While we’re on this topic, I’d like to revisit your resume for a moment. When applying for a remote role, ensure that your career marketing documents offer evidence of you being flexible enough to work alone.

Rewrite your resume and LinkedIn profile to emphasise, for instance, projects in which you collaborated with distant teammates, maybe across different time zones. Be sure to mention web collaboration software packages that you’re comfortable with.

This Too Shalt Pass.

It’s a difficult and unusual time. Some people will experience a financial hit. Most will have to adapt to new routines and habits.

Remember that the most important asset you have is health. Preserve it above all else. It sounds almost too obvious to mention as a piece of advice, but I must:

  • Drink a lot of water.
  • Cut back on alcohol.
  • Stay away from the 24/7 news cycle.
  • Exercise.

Look after yourself.

– Irene

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