A job search can be exciting and motivating as you start to see your next professional step unfold, however it also comes with its own set of challenges.  When you bring the COVID-19 pandemic into the fold, it’s easy to feel like giving up. While many employers are slowing down their hiring processes or freezing hiring all together for now, there are still things you can do to position yourself well in light of COVID-19.

Networking online is more important than ever before

With in-person events being cancelled in most places for the foreseeable future, it’s important to shift your focus to developing your online network and professional brand.  Now is the time to embrace LinkedIn! Take the time to do a deep-dive into your profile, be sure all of the sections are completed and well-written, and that you have a professional-looking photo and background image.  There are plenty of resources on LinkedIn Learning to help you make the most of your profile.  

Once you’ve gotten your profile polished, start joining professional groups that align with your career goals.  Many groups are offering virtual networking meetings to engage their members during COVID-19, so this is a great way for you to meet new professionals in your field!  As you join groups, remember that connections are only as good as your participation in the groups. Post content, comment on articles that others post, connect with others in the group and ask if you can have a virtual coffee with them to learn about their work.  People are more receptive to this outreach now than ever, make the most of it.  

The more you engage on LinkedIn, the more likely you are to come up in search results as hiring managers seek applicants for openings in their organization!

Lastly, consider joining a professional organization or two related to your profession.  This is a great way to get to know the key players in your industry, and keep on top of trends in your field.  Many of these organizations are embracing virtual conferences and meetings, so it’s easier to access them from wherever you are at minimal cost.

Stay In Touch

Have you already had an interview or applied for a job, and it’s taking a while to hear back?  COVID-19 has certainly slowed down hiring processes for most non-essential, and some essential, businesses that could result in delayed responses.  While this can certainly be frustrating, please understand that many of these organizations are focused on keeping as many of their current employees secure as we navigate these unprecedented times with no official end date.  While they may be interested in hiring for a position, that may take a backseat to focusing on their current employees.  

If it’s been a couple of weeks, you can send an email to the hiring manager that includes a line like “I’m looking forward to learning more when it makes sense for your organization.”  Something like that conveys your interest while acknowledging that situation the organization is facing. Something else you might consider, depending on the organization, is offering to volunteer your time if you have a skill that could be useful during this time.  This does not seem ideal when you have bills to pay, but if you can get your foot in the door with an organization you’re excited to work for by volunteering 4-6hrs a week to support them, you not only build your resume and your professional network but you are a very competitive candidate when they are able to hire again.

You can also connect with hiring managers on LinkedIn, giving them the opportunity to get to know you through your posts and engagement.  This helps keep you “front of mind” when they are able to assess candidates for openings in the future.

Understand how to find and apply for jobs online

It’s no secret that networking is the best way to land a job, however in these uncertain times there are a variety of virtual opportunities to keep you moving in your job search.  

Virtual career fairs are a great way to get your resume out to a large number of employers while embracing social distancing.  With virtual career fairs, there is often a front-facing window that shows you the variety of organizations “attending” while you have the opportunity to click through and read about them and the openings they’re hiring for.  You can interact with hiring managers via video or phone chat, upload your resume or other application documents on the spot, and make some really great connections. Treat these like a regular job fair and dress for success, and be sure to join the fair from a quiet place with a strong internet connection, in case you find yourself on a video chat!  Use the National Career Fair database to find fairs near you, and be sure to register for fairs that were originally scheduled as in-person to get updates as they move to virtual platforms.

Applying for a federal job?  If you’ve been using USAJobs to apply for these opportunities, you know it can be a bit overwhelming.  The U.S. Office of Personnel Management offers free regular webinars that go over the federal job application process and what to expect, writing your resume for a federal application, as well as webinars to make the most of a federal job interview.  You can also check out this short guide to Navigating USAJOBS for some helpful tips.

Job boards that are tailored to the kind of profession you’re interested in can be a great way to find openings.  If you’re looking for a career related to the environment, education, or conversation take a look at the Texas A&M job board as well as the North American Association for Environmental Education board.  You can sign-up for email alerts so you don’t miss something you’d be interested in.

Use the Time to Reflect

This may seem like a difficult task as many of us are navigating major changes to our normal lives and routines, however taking the time to be confident in what you want next professionally will help you stay focused during your job search.  What kind of organization do you see yourself working at? What type of role would you like to fill? Are you looking for growth potential within an organization? Is it important to have a team to work with, or do you work better independently?  Consider these and other aspects of your professional goals that you’d like to see as part of your next career move. Keeping these criteria in mind will help you find an opportunity that is meaningful to you.  

Lastly, consider the transferable skills you’re bringing to your next job based on your previous experiences.  Your education is a big part of landing a job, but so is your ability to be flexible and adapt as organizations move through COVID-19 and reassess their needs once it has passed.  A non-profit that might have been hiring for a data collection specialist prior to COVID-19 may now be looking for someone who can do data collection and also has the skill set to draft communications to donors as the organization works to recover from financial stress as a result of COVID-19.  By bringing some added value to an organization on top of what the job requires, you have a competitive advantage over other applicants.  

We’re here to help!

As a student or alum of Unity Environmental University, you have life-long access to Career Services.  We’re here to help you navigate the job search process, talk about industry trends all over the country, offer feedback on resumes, cover letters, and applications.  Click here to schedule a virtual or phone appointment!