To say the job environment has changed over the past few months would be a gross overstatement. From an economy with record low unemployment rates that had become an employee’s market, the world suddenly pivoted to a point where millions are out of work and employers are in the driver’s seat again.
In fact, according to research from Jobvite—2020 Job Seeker Nation Report—73% of respondents feel that finding a job this year is harder; 48% said the same just two months ago. For veterans, and others, that’s certainly dismal news.
Still, some companies are hiring and opportunities do still exist for those looking for a job during COVID-19. Here experts weigh in on some best practices and tips for job hunting during COVID-19.
Thinking Differently in a Whole New World
Michael Hamelburger, CEO of The Bottom Line Group says: “Veterans who want to stand out in this critical period of ‘new normal’ are those who have crossover skills. Those who know how to tap into their other skills to allow them to survive in this challenging economy come out as ahead of the crop. They know how to adapt and can prove that whatever challenge there is, they are willing to sweat it out.”
Today’s managers, says Hamelburger, are looking for employees who are remote ready above all. “Those with skills that can easily be applied to online client management are a priority,” he says. In addition, he notes that those who have recently taken steps to upskill send a positive message to potential employers about “how eager they are to pursue lifelong learning.”
Damian Birkel, founder and executive director of Professionals In Transition® Support Group, Inc., believes that employees with a military background “usually receive preferential treatment in the hiring process.” Those in job search mode now, he says, should know that:
- 80% of all jobs never appear online
- Networking is critical—cultivate your network by connecting with ex-military members via LinkedIn
- Your local Employment Security Commission (ESC may have a representative dedicated to veterans)
- ESC may also offer a list of veteran-friendly companies, and provide the opportunity to apply for a job before it’s made public
- It’s important to make sure your online profiles are consistent across all platforms—e.g. LinkedIn, etc.
- COVID-19 has dramatically slowed the hiring process, with many positions on hold
Despite the tough climate, Birkel notes that there are opportunities now in healthcare, manufacturing, small business and any industries that are considered essential.
Explore Unique Opportunities
COVID-19 has opened up some unique opportunities for those who choose to consider them, says Paul McDonald, senior executive director for staffing agency Robert Half. “Today’s job market may be a bit more challenging for any job seeker to navigate right now, but there are bright spots,” he says. “A great option is project or consulting work while you search for a full-time position. This allows you to build your skills, network, and gain income during the job search. We’re finding that organizations are relying on project professionals as they’re navigating reentry into offices and picking the pace of business back up.”
The world is changing which provides an opportunity for job candidates to “stand out, demonstrate leadership abilities, and apply life lessons learned under pressure,” says Matthew Sorensen, a career coach and the founder of Interview Training/Resume Writing Service. “Anyone who thrives in an ever changing environment will have more opportunities than ever,” he says. ‘Not only are companies changing, but the way they interact with their staff will never be the same. If you can quickly evolve with a company, be a leader, and enact change with positivity instead of pushing back, you will be a valuable asset.”
The skills and experiences that veterans bring to the table are a huge asset in navigating COVID-19,” says Sorensen. “Talk about your experience keeping calm under pressure, your ability to think on the fly, your leadership background and training, and how that ties into open positions in the job market.”
“Exhibiting some patience and flexibility will be an invaluable asset during this time,” says McDonald. “If you had a specific industry in mind, you may want to shift a bit and look toward the areas where there is increased need.”
In addition, says McDonald, it’s important to be flexible in terms of the way you connect with others during the pandemic. “Do your best to navigate the new networking and interviewing landscape,” he advises. “There are many virtual events happening these days and, depending on the event, many allow for networking with speakers or other participants.”
One caveat that Hamelburger offers is that applicants during COVID-19 may not be able to command salaries as high as they might have before the virus “because companies are adjusting to the current financial impact brought about by the pandemic.”
Keywords: job hunting, job seekers, COVID-19
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