With the economic upheaval of 2020, now may feel like a less-than-ideal time to be job hunting. But many companies are still hiring — it’s just that how to look for a job and the way in which you interview for these positions may feel different from what you’re used to. If you’re hoping to land a new role right now, these tips can help improve your chances.
BE OPEN-MINDED ABOUT THE INDUSTRY
In normal circumstances, you may have your heart set on a specific field, either because of experience or interest. But in the current environment, it may be necessary to expand your search to industries that offer a greater likelihood for opportunities.
Focus on sectors that are flush with capital, suggests Robert Reck, founder of executive search firm Kilbourn Marshall. You might even consult their financial performance to see which companies within those sectors are faring best. “These are signals that the recession hasn’t hit them as hard or they might be primed to rebound before their peers,” he says. This may mean looking in the tech, healthcare or consumer products spaces, as opposed to hospitality or retail. While it may not be your “happily ever after” position, it could be the “perfect for now” job.
CONSIDER REMOTE OPPORTUNITIES
With many companies continuing remote work for the foreseeable future, many jobs that may not have been on your radar due to a geographic barrier may now be possible. This of course can greatly widen your pool of opportunities.
When interviewing for a work-from-home position, be prepared to discuss how well-versed you are in technology including Zoom, Skype and Slack. Also, come ready with a strategy for how you plan to be productive without being in an office environment. When you’re ready for the remote interview, be sure you’ve done a dry run just as you would with an in-person meeting — these tips can help you have a successful video interview.
While you’ll likely have the most luck applying to posted job descriptions, it can be worth reaching out to a company proactively if you’re sincerely interested in working for them. If you decide to go this route, be sure to communicate that you’re sensitive to the current environment, as the company may have experienced layoffs or furloughs. It’s also important to be patient when expecting a reply, as your contact could be shouldering an increased workload or be concerned about the optics of talking to a potential candidate outside of a posted position.
One way to navigate this is to suggest an informal meeting with the goal of networking. “This softer approach doesn’t put the hiring leader in a difficult position of deciding whether or not to view the meeting as a formal interview,” Reck says.
HIGHLIGHT YOUR TRANSFERRABLE AND SOFT SKILLS
If you’re interviewing for a position that’s outside your direct area of expertise, you may find you have to work a little harder to convince the hiring manager that you’re the best person for the job. “They often choose candidates who have the exact experience as the incumbent, assuming it will be easier to train them,” Reck says.
But that shouldn’t discourage you. Often, one of the hiring manager’s main goals is to mitigate the risk of making a bad hire, and that decision often comes down to your soft skills. To ensure they’re front and center, Reck suggests highlighting the competencies that apply to every industry, such as your problem-solving skills, work ethic, team mentality and positive attitude.
Especially in times like these, a thank-you note or email after a formal interview or informal meeting can go a long way. Include a phrase such as, “Please reach out again when it makes sense for your organization,” and add the person on LinkedIn so you can check in every now and then. Job hunting is about creating connections, and making a contact now just might put you at the top of the list when an opening materializes down the road.