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When the pandemic hit the US, the job market and pool of qualified applicants changed drastically overnight. Both employers and job seekers have felt a palpable shift in the strategy necessary to be successful. Whether you’re a Millennial or a Boomer, you need to understand how job hunting and hiring has changed. We’ve compiled a list of recommendations to help you anticipate and successfully navigate these changes as it applies to the search, resume writing, and interviewing.
Fortunately, amid all this change, networking remains the best way to land a new job. Make a list of people you can ask for help, including but not limited to friends, former colleagues, and even LinkedIn connections. You need to have a completed LinkedIn profile as part of your ongoing career management. While there are a host of professional networking platforms available in 2020, recruiters are still using LinkedIn nearly 100% of the time to find new talent. This means you must have an up-to-date bio, accurate experience descriptions that make you easily searchable, a current profile picture, and an SEO-effective headline. Personal branding and developing a broad network of between 300 and 500 contacts on LinkedIn are essential, and you likely won’t find it beneficial to your search otherwise. Expand your network by thinking about who you know, then who they know, and sending out invitations asking to connect. Make sure to briefly introduce yourself to those who you do not know personally to encourage the request to be accepted. Now more than ever you can stand out by using a platform like LinkedIn to step out of your comfort zone and show your tenacity that sets you apart.
Know the job you want and reach out to your network, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Using your contacts to ask for referrals to hiring managers or a recruiter typically pays off. According to Career Pivot, referrals have a 50% chance of getting an interview and a 20% chance of getting hired! Whereas others with no connections have only a 3% chance of getting an interview and a 1.2% chance of getting hired. Referrals only make up 7% of potential candidates, according to Jobvite, but they’re simultaneously responsible for 40% of new hires as ‘established employees attract candidates who are a better fit for the job and…culture.’ Employers know that referral hires also tend to stay with the company longer, and they’re less costly as it allows them to avoid recruiting costs. Recruiters as well are changing the way they select candidates, and qualified referrals are often a better fit than candidates selected from a job board.
One of the most noticeable changes COVID-19 has had is the increase in competition for each job. Once an employer or recruiter glances at your resume, you have 15 to 20 seconds for them to respond or move on to the next person. To stand out, you must have a targeted resume that emphasizes the results you have achieved in your past jobs. Pay attention to the job description and highlight the specific skills and experience that the employer wants. Then, think about the work you’ve done in the past. Between the two, you should be able to identify the appropriate keywords, and you should be sure to add these to your resume. While COVID’s aftershock is still being felt, you should be ready to tweak your resume to better match each job description to allow your application the most exposure possible.
Over the last eight months, the interview process has taken a dramatic turn for the virtual. All initial interviews are conducted online, whether over the phone or a video conference. You should be prepared for a lengthier process, but do not allow this extension to discourage you mentally. Employers still want to get to know a candidate and ensure they are a good fit for company culture before extending an offer, and so, they have had to pivot quickly to maintain hiring while simultaneously keeping their team safe.
Authentic connections can be more challenging to achieve when virtual communication is the only safe option, so the best thing for you to do is be prepared. Employers are asking situational questions more frequently to better understand their candidates, so you should have work stories ready about your accomplishments to answer appropriately. Write out your answers in advance so that you can be ready to answer when you’re staring at them on a computer screen. Select your top five selling points, link them together in a few sentences, and develop a verbal business card to answer the questions – Tell us about yourself? or Why should we hire you? This is also a great interview closer. After the interviewer has finished asking their questions, you’ve asked yours, and it’s time to leave, you say, “thank you for the opportunity to talk with you today, let me summarize for you what I would bring to this job.” Boom – you hit them with your selling points, and end the call. They are going to make notes about you, and you’ve just given them the best reasons to hire you.