By now, many of us (probably all) are feeling the weight of the realities that the COVID-19 crisis has brought to our world, whether that be changes in our lifestyles, taking care of our communities, or worrying about the uncertainty of our futures. A global pandemic in itself can be a lot to handle, but losing your job or not having financial stability can only add to the stress.
While there are several unknowns about the future of the job market, a key tool to assist you in job searching that remains unchanged is utilizing various communication tools to your advantage. Since many are still practicing socially distancing, I thought it would be helpful to share a few tricks that I have used and found highly valuable during my own job hunt, all of which can be done at your fingertips (i.e. virtually)!
1. Network using LinkedIn to build relationships within your sector
Throughout my career, a piece of advice I’ve heard a lot is to simply “Ask someone out for coffee.” While asking professionals to meet for coffee still may not be a feasible or preferable option for some,that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t reach out and create connections, albeit if they are virtual ones (for now)! You can simply ask professionals to an online coffee meet up by sending them a message to see if they would be interested in chatting with you via Zoom or phone (I mean, hey, the plus side is you don’t even have to find parking or pay for public transit, or switch out of your sweatpants!) .
While you shouldn’t go into the conversation thinking the person you meet with will give you a job on the spot, you should be prepared to discuss the kinds of positions you are looking for and ask questions of the professional. Questions like “What skills do you typically look for in these positions?” or “Would you be able to take a look at my resume and give me feedback?” are a great starting point. Not only can these conversations be useful to learn more about the person you are meeting with but it will also help them learn about YOU and what you are looking for in your next job -- AKA if they see a job and think you would be a good fit they can pass it your way. If you are looking for some good starting questions, I found this article from Career Contessa that may be a good starting point. Do your best to follow up with people you talk to in a month or so to continue building the relationship.
2. LinkedIn is a search engine. Use it!
It seems that a lot of professionals have forgotten that LinkedIn is a super powerful search engine tool that can help you meet more people who may have the same career interests as you, attended the same school, or have mutual connections. LinkedIn allows you to make specific searches, with various types of filter options, to find people to connect with.
One tip that I recommend is that if there is an organization that you want to work for or learn more about, look up their page on LinkedIn and then scroll through the list of people who work there and find someone who you think would be a good fit for your interests and send them a direct message. I totally understand the fear of cold messaging people this way, but I remind myself that if someone reached out to me wanting to learn more about my job or my career, I would be more than happy to lend my expertise and knowledge. Many people enjoy giving advice or insights to others who want to learn and progress in their careers.
3. LinkedIn isn’t the only social networking site that can be helpful during your job search -- don’t forget about Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (and maybe even TikTok!)
I recently joined a Facebook group called Create and Cultivate, which focuses on connecting folks across the country who work in communications, art, design, and more. Not only has this group been helping me meet new people who work in a similar field, but people in the group often post about job opportunities, freelancing gigs, and other career advancement resources that I wouldn’t have learned about otherwise. Facebook has a lot of groups like this including the YNPN Twin Cities Group, Nonprofit Development/Fundraising Community, and Nonprofit Communications Professionals to name a few. I also know individuals who have gotten jobs through connections on Instagram and Twitter, too.
I realize that this blog post is only scratching the surface of the broad and often overwhelming topic of job searching, and that not everyone looking for a new position right now has access to reliable internet or is comfortable using social media platforms in the ways I’ve described. Privilege plays a huge role in the job hunt process, from feeling comfortable with using online application portals, to getting yourself prepared for a Zoom or phone interview with minimal home distractions and a reliable internet/computer connection. Job searching amidst a technology-reliant period certainly comes with many challenges, but can provide the necessary tools for professionals to seek out positions of interest and stay employed during these challenging times.
For those of you currently seeking a new position, I wish you the best of luck in your job search! And for those who know of other related resources or suggestions you would like to share, please comment with them below.