Most of the time, the search for the perfect remote job is hard enough. But job searching during COVID-19 adds an additional layer of complications. With the current unemployment rate at 14.7% and the U.S. economy losing more than 40 million jobs, things are certainly a bit dire.
With news that the pandemic has effectively erased all job gains since the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009, remember a few things. The economy is not entirely shut-down. Yes, specific sectors have been severely affected and have suffered massive job losses. But many companies have transitioned from in-office work to remote-only without a hitch. For remote jobseekers—especially those who already have experience working remotely—this is an opportunity. Businesses have reduced or eliminated travel, in-office meetings have switched to web-conferencing applications, and employers have become more open to at least the temporary idea of remote work.
So, what is a jobseeker to do? Use these tips to improve your job searching during COVID-19 and find the perfect remote-friendly job that will fit your unique needs.
Don’t Stop Job Searching During COVID-19
Giving up is a tempting proposition. The news gives near-daily updates on how many more people are filing unemployment claims. With the constant barrage of failing job markets on the news and social media, it can feel like job searching during COVID-19 is like trying to swim against the current.
But remember, recruiters still have jobs to fill during these uncertain times. Yes, some companies have hiring freezes, but that doesn’t mean that everything has shut down. Telecommuting opportunities are available for businesses able to pivot to remote work successfully. Now is also a great time to do some company research. What companies are hiring remote-for-now workers? How many have pivoted to a remote-only forever state? What kind of jobs are out there for my skill set?
Actionable Step: Remember, focus on quality vs. quantity. Nothing good can come out of applying to just any job vacancy. The remote job search process works when you are methodical and apply to jobs that fit your skillset. Not only does that waste your time, but the psychological toll of rejection can affect your job search when employers start sending rejection letters.
Make Your Job Searching During COVID-19 A Daily Habit
Despite being a bit clichéd, the saying is true: the early bird does catch the worm. But for the statement to be more accurate, you need to put some effort into it. Finding the perfect job for your needs takes work. Brand new jobs are available every day. And although the competition is fierce, it’s imperative that remote jobseekers get into the habit of searching for these new opportunities daily and early.
Lucrative jobs in popular sectors have been known to be snatched up within minutes of being posted on job boards or their company website career pages. With hundreds of companies posting new jobs every day, how can a remote jobseeker keep up? When job searching during COVID-19, focus your search on sites specializing in your needs. For remote jobseekers, that is Virtual Vocations, Inc.
Actionable Step: To ensure you gain access to the freshest job leads, subscribe to Virtual Vocations and put our job email alert tool to good use. Create a custom email alert by specifying the alert’s frequency, selecting the desired job category, and narrowing down your selections using the advanced filters so that you are sent only the most relevant job leads.
Take Advantage of Temporary Remote-Only Job Openings
If your desired industry has been walloped during this pandemic, consider short-term jobs. Right now, there are many remote-only, entry-level jobs seeking temporary or part-time help during the pandemic. Since remote work is still not standard or sustainable in many sectors, thinking outside of the box may help alleviate any financial difficulties that may arise.
The job market is a bit different now. Many states are searching for contact tracers and public health interviewers who can work part-time (or full-time) until this health crisis is over. Also, remember that schools transitioning to virtual classes will need online tutors or test-prep instructors.
Actionable Step: Stay open to new opportunities and consider that the next job you have may not be the perfect job of your dreams. If your chosen industry is in a downward spiral due to COVID-19, strongly consider temporary or part-time remote-friendly jobs.
Reach Out To Your Network And Remain Visible
Most of us are still under stay-at-home orders, and not everyone is an essential worker. Although things are a bit overwhelming, you may be tempted to stay low and not bother anyone. Now is the time to reach out to your network. Don’t feel like you are intruding on anyone else time. Remember that although you may not receive an instant response, you will stay on the appropriate peoples’ radars. Reach out to people you know—and even those you don’t—via your social media accounts. Catch up with co-workers and friends. You never know who might have leads on potential jobs.
Actionable Steps: If the thought of networking fills you with anxiety, start small. Send an email and contact someone in your professional network each day—just one to start. If someone sends you an email, answer it. Return those phone calls you’ve been postponing. When you are feeling braver, participate in online events with your alma mater or join an online forum for remote workers. Since conferences and in-person events have all but disappeared, this is an excellent way of expanding your professional circle while still respecting “social distancing” rules.
Spruce Up Your Social Profiles
Remote jobseekers have an advantage. They can interact professionally via online collaboration tools and social media. Therefore, visibility on professional and personal social media is integral. Because of this, make sure that your social media accounts and public brand reflect who you are as a professional.
Potential employers search and scroll through the social media accounts of their applicants. If you participate in social media, ensure that your content does not reflect poorly on you. People have lost jobs based on private behavior that has been posted on social media, and sometimes by things they post online themselves. If you tend to shy away from social media, now is the time to perfect to start. For jobseekers, LinkedIn is the place to start as it helps manage your professional identity and engage with your professional network.
Actionable Steps: Don’t self-sabotage. Give your online presence a thorough audit to ensure your online brand is helping and not hurting your job search odds. If you don’t have much of an online presence, open an account on LinkedIn, and start generating content in your field. Show off that expertise to potential employers by highlighting professional certifications and supplemental skills on your website and social media accounts.
Be Prepared For That Video Interview
Although some states are removing strict social distancing rules, business travel is still limited or nonexistent. Because of this, the likelihood of in-person interviews is slim. Therefore, you should prepare for an online video interview. As employers adapt to remote hiring, note that 61% of recruiters use video as a screening process and 80% use it during the actual interview.
First impressions count, and an unprepared video interview can eliminate your candidacy. Treat a video interview as seriously as an in-person one. Remember that although telecommuting involves sweats and pajamas, those outfit choices won’t impress in an online interview. The saying “if you look good, you feel good” is correct. Wearing a professional outfit can change your professional demeanor, which is especially vital during the job search process.
Actionable Steps: Make sure you are prepared. Do a test run with friends using your video camera/laptop camera and lighting equipment. Tidy up the background or use a screen to block any mess that might be visible. Practice your vocal tone, have a list of questions to ask the interviewer, prepare an “interview ready” outfit, and please remember to wear pants or appropriate bottoms.
Prepare All Your Work Documents
Jobseekers have an arsenal of tools at their disposal to help them find remote employment. From resumes to cover letters to online portfolios and websites, they are essential to demonstrate your skillset to potential employers. But for them to be effective, they must be current. Some questions to ask yourself include:
- When was the last time you updated your resume?
- Do you tailor your cover letter to every employer?
- Is your online portfolio or website current, and most importantly, do all the links work?
- How about your personal and professional references?
- Are they up to date, and is their contact information still the same?
- Do you have the soft skills that are necessary for remote work highlighted in your work documents?
Remember to compare your skills and education-level on your resume to those required for your dream job. You may need to take on some additional courses to make sure those gaps are filled.
Actionable Step: Make sure your resume is ATS (Applicant Tracking System) compliant. If you have difficulty with this, consider hiring a professional resume service writer to help you.
Take Care of Yourself and Treat The Job Search Like A Marathon, Not a Sprint
Everything at this point is regional based on state health laws, so you should be prepared to jump at the opportunity for the perfect remote job opening you’ve been waiting for. But don’t trouble yourself by trying to accomplish too much at the same time.
Many people are suffering an extreme amount of stress—even those who worked remotely before COVID-19. These are challenging times and burnout is real. Even when you’re working from home, you may want to take advantage of this time to learn new things, work on solo projects, find the perfect job, and finish long-forgotten tasks. Stay motivated even if you don’t hear from employers or recruiting managers after you send in your application. Hiring takes time, and patience is key.
Actionable Step: Remember, things will get better, but just thinking positively has its limitations. It is essential to take care of your mental health. These are stressful times, and the longer this situation lingers, the more likely it is to affect your work and mental health. Be proactive in finding effective coping strategies.
Finding a remote job during COVID-19 isn’t a cakewalk. But if you’re willing to put in the time and effort, you can achieve your goals of making a living virtually.
iStock Image: Daniel Balakov
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