Disillusioned in Your Job Search?
Keep your optimism with these tips
Posted Jun 05, 2020
Tired of double-digit unemployment rates? Think you'll lose it if you face another rejection letter or the word 'no' in response to your job search?
The bright clouds recent graduates saw when they tossed graduation caps in that rite of passage have changed, along with other job seekers, to gloomy, grey clouds during the 2020 pandemic.
Job fairs and recruitment plummeted in the economic downturn. TIME magazine featured that the Class of 2020 was “most likely to have a Zoom graduation party…lose a summer job, and completely rethink plans for the future.”1
Commencement literally means a beginning, and even veteran workers look forward to new starts in promotions and different, even lateral career moves or work assignments. If the months of this pandemic represented a loss in training programs or job offers taken off the table—perhaps being laid off as well—you can take action to increase your sense of agency and hope, not to mention improve your overall employment prospects. Focus on these reminders:
Keep learning. Employers want fast learners who can acquire technical skills as well as communicate and listen effectively. Today, software does the back-office tasks that new recruits did 20 years ago. The good news: less scut work. The bad news: life requires homework.
Due to the COVID-19 quarantine and lack of experiential learning, universities have enhanced or even discounted their online course catalogs.2 Many community colleges offer non-credit Ed2Go classes, including some free online courses in successful job search and communication skills to small business marketing, personal finance, and web development.3
Perfect your resume. Without this solid, selling document, invitations to interview via Zoom or in-person will dry up. Writing to Make Money: Short Projects is a low-cost and minimal time-required guide on how to craft resumes (among other writing jobs).4 Check the resource section in that book in addition to Lose the Resume, Land the Job and 1,001 Phrases You Need to Get a Job.5 Having handy resources helps when anxiety sets in, shutting down your word recall, as you need it most in your job search.
Network through social media. Vice presidential candidates aren’t the only people vetted. One’s social media presence spells professionalism or perilous risks. More than a decade ago, The New York Times began featuring stories where young people pulled published essays or cleaned up their profiles in order to be considered for interviews.6 That still holds today.
LinkedIn remains a helpful place to highlight your resume, cultivate contacts, and publish relevant posts. LinkedIn Learning is offered with a premium subscription, but you can try it out for one month free of charge, in most cases. If you are sidelined from a job, make sure you take advantage of this.
Work on soft skills. According to a 2019 feature in the Harvard Business Review, these power skills include critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, and learning agility or the curiosity and motivation to continuously acquire new skills.7
The message here is to still learn more, not less. Never stagnate. In a survey of what employers wanted in graduates, the soft skills of listening and critical thinking were most valued.8
What if you lack these skills? Private coaching or counseling, especially if you have insurance, may help you to gain self-awareness and interpersonal or problem-solving skills you need. It may also uncover ways you self-sabotage your success and generally improve your overall EQ since employers also demand emotional intelligence.
Polish your verbal ability to answer tough questions. Third-party assistance may allow the opportunity to strengthen weaker skill sets such as verbal ability or thinking on your feet. Role-play, in particular, affords this, and it can be done in remote sessions.
Monster.com highlighted problem-solving, teamwork, and written and verbal communication among several other skills desired.9 Be prepared to provide detail to questions such as “give an example of…” or “tell me a time when…” that highlights your proactivity or responsiveness to challenges. As in a good resume, quantify whenever possible.
Keep options broad with an open mind. Full-time employment with benefits in a field you are passionate about checks all the boxes, doesn’t it? In a struggling economy, however, you may have to settle or get creative to meet your job criteria balancing paid jobs, side gigs, and/or volunteer opportunities.
If you need to build your resume for the job you ultimately want, consider a side hustle that might allow you to work from home in this socially distanced era. Such jobs as copywriting or editing,10 web development, bookkeeping, contact tracing, and tutoring can be done from home. Other side endeavors such as becoming an election officer or providing child or pet care require your physical presence.11
When you feel bored or need specific skills to appear on your resume—and jobs, side gigs, or publishing isn’t enough—then go the volunteer route. You’ll feel good helping a cause as you expand your network, impress your skills upon potential employers, and broaden your outlook.12
Copyright @ 2020 by Loriann Oberlin. All rights reserved.
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