This article is part of an ongoing series of guest articles by James Fitzsimons, Director of Elevate Career Advice. Make the next step in your career count – visit Elevatecareeradvice.com.
Whether you are a seasoned professional or an inexperienced graduate, the process of finding a job can be a daunting one. Your self-esteem and confidence can take a hit throughout the process and you can be plagued with waves of self-doubt with every rejection letter. This can be challenging enough to deal with in regular times but in times of a global pandemic, this challenge can be magnified.
Coronavirus has been a massive contributor to the rising levels of anxiety and mental health issues across the world in 2020. It has also been a massive contributor to global unemployment rates and has caused fierce competition for the jobs that are still available. Approaching this kind of a job marketing is past the casual description of daunting, being more akin to monumentally overwhelming.
In order to stop yourself being swallowed up by the wave of anxiety around applying for jobs, you need to have a plan. Here are some things to keep in mind when trying to find a job during a global pandemic:
Resilience & Persistence
The first thing to keep in mind is to manage your own anxiety and thoughts around the whole process. You need to be sure that you and your head are ready for it because if you aren’t ready for the game, then you won’t succeed in it.
You should also make sure you keep going through the process even if you are knocked down by a steady stream of ‘no’s. It can be really difficult to bounce back quickly from rejection after rejection, but it is something you will have to prepare yourself to face and overcome. You have to have a knock-on- doors approach. This means knocking on 100 doors saying no for the 101st door to say yes.
It’s a cliché but it only takes one yes to change everything. You have to be prepared to keep knocking on those doors until you get your yes. You will be surprised with how quickly you get used to it.
Upskilling/Training During The Time Off
While you are applying for jobs, you have to make sure you use your time wisely. What you do with this time is key to finding a job during the pandemic. Make sure you look at what you are missing in your skillset and what you can do to fill the gaps. Perhaps it’s a masters or a diploma course in your area of interest – or it could be simply a case of sitting down and familiarising yourself with particular programmes you would need for your dream job.
By upskilling during your time off, you will make yourself even more employable. By taking this kind of an initiative, employers will not look at the time gap in your CV as an unproductive period. They will see it as a period spent being innovative and motivated. They will see you have turned your months of unemployment into training months that have prepared you for your future career (and perhaps for your job with them).
A great way to get yourself and your skillset known is through your network. Your friends, family, family friends, recruiters and other acquaintances all form a valuable web of connections which is one of the best resources you can have in your job arsenal. By reaching out to your network, you can gain valuable opportunities. You can learn more about your desired industry or any possible openings.
There is certainly a fear around doing this and ‘making the ask’, especially for young people. The only way to answer this fear is to remind yourself that people are generally very happy to help, especially so when they see someone who has a keen interest in their field. You never know, they might have had someone help them out when they were young.
Once you realise this, you can go ahead and meet different people who can help shape your career journey. An important thing to remember as well is that networking is not a one-way system; there are always at least two stakeholders in the process. You might be valuable to the other person in some way, even if it does not seem obvious to you.
Remember that when you are networking you should always start with the question “what can I do for you?”. On our podcast, The Career Scoop, one of our guests Professor Jane Farrar, Head of Human Genetics in Trinity College Dublin, exemplified how important it is to network when talking about her early career.
She spoke about how in order to gain access to important research and knowledge, she rang up professors in top Universities in the United States of America and asked to shadow and learn from them. She explained that not only did they say yes, but they also invited her to stay in their own family homes!
Be open to anything – you have to be willing to make the cup of coffee.
An essential message to remind yourself throughout the job application process is that you have to be willing to do the grunt work. You cannot think that any job is beneath you or your skill set. Employers will have no interest in someone who is not willing to do every bit of a job – even parts they dislike. You have to be willing to make the cup of coffee for the others around you and you have to make that clear to your potential employers.
Particularly in such a competitive environment as the COVID-19 job market with cut-backs and redundancies, you really have to prove you are willing to pull up your sleeves.
Find yourself a career guide
What can make your experience of the process of finding a job slightly easier is having a career guide beside you while you do it. This is a person whom you trust to advise you and maybe has and shares knowledge of your desired industry. It could be a parent, a sibling, a friend, a family friend or a career expert.
They can help you clear head your head and figure out exactly what you want to do. They can also guide you through the process they possibly went through years before.
Figure out what ‘Brand You’ is
In order to get the interview or to get the actual job, one thing is essential; to be able to sell ‘Brand You’. This is what you bring to the table. It is your education, skillset, personality, work ethic, work experience and more. You need to know this before you go anywhere near a job application or interview. Once you figure this out, you need to have your 30 second pitch ready to go, that points out your unique selling points and why someone should hire you. Master that and you’re one step closer to getting the job!
Represent it in your CV and Cover Letter
The two biggest faults in any CV or Cover Letters is that is does not sell ‘Brand You’ or tell an authentic story. The very point of these type of application documents is to make yourself stand out as the best candidate possible. For that to happen, the document needs to spark a human connection between you and the person evaluating it. The best way to do that is to tell your story and sell it to them. Make sure your voice comes through and outshines the others.
Make sure you do interview practice before any possible video, phone or in-person interview. Even a little preparation can go a long way. Ask a family member, friend or career expert to sit with you and ask you typical job interview questions and make sure you have your answers ready. Nail down your answers to questions like your strengths, weaknesses or interests. Even if they do not ask those questions, you will be a well-oiled answering machine!
More more career advice and tips visit Elevatecareeradvice.com.