Job Hunting Tips to Use During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Apr 6, 2020

Written by Caitlin Proctor

Written by Caitlin Proctor

Career Expert, ZipJob

An average of 250 resumes are sent for a single opening. See how Zipjob uses professional writers and technology to get your resume noticed.

As COVID-19 has spread rapidly across the world in recent months, the economy has changed in unexpected ways. Government mandates, financial market turmoil, and public panic has created disruptions that have left many people confused and afraid for the future.

Of course, job seekers are certainly not immune to these effects. Many have grown fearful that they may not be able to find a job in this type of chaotic, rapidly-changing environment. Despite the chaos, however, many companies are still in operation and in need of qualified job candidates. In fact, some industries have ramped up hiring to fill new demands.

Tip: read our experts’ advice on the US job market and COVID-19, including the industries still hiring and the jobs hit the hardest.

If you’re continuing your search during the COVID-19 outbreak, these job hunting tips can help.

Don’t expect in-person interviews

Perhaps the most important top for your search during a crisis like a coronavirus outbreak is also the most obvious: don’t expect an in-person interview. Thanks to social distancing recommendations, more companies are turning to video conferencing for their interview needs.

If you get called for one of these webcam interviews, here’s some advice that can help you enjoy more success:

1. Set up your interview space

Make sure you have a quiet, non-distracting place to conduct your side of the interview. A home office is best, but you can use any space where family members, pets, or loud noises won’t become a distraction.

Try to opt for a neutral background. Interviewers are more flexible right now, but interviewing from your bed or the bathroom will still likely be seen as unprofessional. Likewise, a sink full of dirty dishes or a huge pile of laundry won’t make a great impression.

2. Get dressed and ready for the interview

Dress for the interview the same way you would if you were interviewing in-person. That means professional attire, good hygiene, and so on. Don’t forget to comb your hair and check your teeth.

The one thing you can skip: nice shoes. It’s unlikely your feet will ever be in view, so if you’re more comfortable in slippers, keep them on.

3. Prepare for the interview

Do your homework, learn about the company and the position, and treat the process with the right level of seriousness. You want to convey that you are taking this opportunity seriously.

Tip: check out our guide to common interview questions (and how to answer them).

4. Where should you look?

Look into your web camera. That’s the best way to appear to be looking directly at the interviewer. Many people get distracted by their own face or other screens open on their computers–don’t be one of them!

As much as possible, continue to commit your time and attention to the interviewer.

5. Trial your tech

Do a trial run with the technology before you connect to the interviewer. Technical glitches during an interview can really spoil the process. Make sure you know how you’re connecting and what you need to download. Try to run the program first.

Many video conferencing tools require you to grant access to your camera and microphone, so have those in place before your interviewer is trying to connect with you.

6. Other considerations

Pay special attention to your lighting. You want to be well lit while minimizing the glow from your screen. Don’t have your light behind you, as you will appear backlit and hard to see. Instead, try a trick from the film industry: get three different light sources on you to avoid shadows, such as a lamp, overhead light, and window.

Use a pen and paper for notes. Many computers have the mics located by the keyboard, so the sound is loud and distracting from the other end.

Adjust as needed. Do you need to pause after you speak to accommodate any potential delay in the video and audio feed? If you or your interviewer seems to have trouble understanding the audio, it’s best to address it and fix it.

7. Ask some additional questions

You should always ask questions before an interview ends, but during this pandemic, one question is imperative: ask direct questions about the hiring timeline. Some companies may not be hiring until after the outbreak ends.

When you’re serious about finding a new job, those are the kinds of things you need to know now.

Be prepared for a longer hiring process

While you can enjoy success in your job search during the COVID-19 outbreak, it is vital to maintain proper expectations. A lot of companies are going to be reluctant to take on new employees at a time when many are worried about meeting current payroll. That might mean that you need to widen your search parameters.

For example, be sure to use every available resource you can find to identify potential employment opportunities:

  • Consult online job aggregator websites
  • Explore as many industry-specific or local online job boards as possible
  • Keep in contact with people in your network
  • Pay attention to announcements about companies that are hiring. For example, Amazon recently announced that they intend to hire thousands of new employees to help it meet demand during the outbreak.

Here is an infographic from our post on Coronavirus and the U.S. Job Market with more information about hiring and firing forecasts

80 million jobs at risk infographic from Zipjob

Consider remote work options

While social distancing is preventing some companies from doing business on-site, remote work opportunities are on the rise. If you have a skill set that can be utilized remotely, focus on jobs that can be done from your home. Examples of remote work opportunities can include many technology-based jobs, marketing and sales positions, and creative endeavors like copywriting, editing, graphic arts, and more.

Moreover, many companies are already shifting positions to remote work, to enable current employees to continue to produce during the crisis.

Tip: read our guide on How To Write A Resume For Remote Work to learn how to tailor your resume for a remote job

Continue to build your skills

While you’re searching for a job, don’t forget to continue to increase and expand your skills. Your search should give you some insight into the type of skills employers are currently seeking. Obviously, you can use that insight to ensure that your skill set meets those demands.

In addition, you can better determine which areas you can expand upon to help make yourself a more attractive job candidate. Ultimately, your enhanced skill set will increase your potential value to any potential employer–now, or in the future.

Tip: Check out the most in-demand skills employers are looking for in 2020

Online applications and ATS scans

With virtually all companies turning to online applications, it is imperative that you get your application filled out correctly. Pay attention to all of the posted instructions, and call to ask questions if you’re unsure about any of the details.

In addition, make sure that your resume is updated and tailored to meet your desired job. Finally, don’t forget to optimize your application and resume to ensure they pass the company’s applicant tracking system (ATS).

Tip: Refer to our guide on the Top 10 Tips to Get Your Resume Past ATS Scans

Don’t forget to stay healthy

Of course, you should also focus on your health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. Searching for a job can be a stressful endeavor, and stress can take a toll on your health. Stress is only magnified during times of crisis and concern.

Remember, you will only be at your best when you’re feeling your best. Be sure to make time to focus on staying healthy and following all recommended guidelines to minimize your risk of exposure to the virus or any other illness. That’s one of the best ways to remain positive and concentrate your attention on your job search efforts!

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Summary

Even in times of trouble, there are still opportunities still abound. And as long as there are companies committed to meeting business and consumer demand, they will still need quality employees. Knowing that could provide you the edge you need to find a great job even during the COVID-19 outbreak.

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An average of 250 resumes are sent for a single opening. See how Zipjob uses professional writers and technology to get your resume noticed.