By Allie Grilland Matthew Rousu
Last week, we brought you two strategies to use if you’re actively job searching during the uncertainty of COVID-19.
We recommended that you stay open-minded by considering industries that have open positions and improve your social media presence by developing your digital brand and containing your digital shadow.
Today, we will discuss three additional strategies you can use to advance your career development and competitiveness in the job market during this pandemic.
Use structured approach
Job searches often last 6-9 months, depending on the industry, candidate, and process. While we’d like it to happen more quickly than that, candidates should prepare for a long tenure of job hunting. Like taking class or reporting to a job, you should treat a job search as something you’re required to go to regularly.
If possible, dedicate a specific place in your house free of distractions and a specific time in your schedule to your job search, which will help create a ritual and structure for you. Think about the time of day you are at your best, and aim for the majority of your searching to occur then. By focusing your job-seeking energy a few hours a day for a few days per week (the actual hours per week may vary greatly depending on the individual), you can more easily manage job search anxiety and create measurable goals that you can actually achieve. Take it day by day and you’ll see results. Don’t forget to think about how you’ll celebrate your job searching wins, such as an updating your resume, an interview request, or receiving positive feedback—no matter how small.
Take (free) online class
Massive open online courses, better known as MOOCs, started to become popular in the 2010s and continue to gain credibility with firms.
Many colleges and universities currently host online courses for free or for a nominal fee, and you can learn about topics ranging from data analytics, history, graphic design, and conflict mediation – almost anything.
Completing an online class can help you overcome a major hurdle that many job seekers face – matching skills and experience to the qualifications list in a job ad.
If you think you match some of the qualifications for a search, but don’t have good Microsoft Excel skills, for example, perhaps you can complete an online certification for Excel to increase your competitive edge.
But the qualifications that are listed in an ad bring us to our third recommendation:
Go ahead, apply
Firms often produce a qualifications list that is really a wish list—the most desired skills and experience are typically at the top and those listed on the bottom are usually considered nice, but not required.
If you match many, but not all qualifications, you should consider applying for the position. This point is especially important for women to consider, as recent data shows that female candidates tend to seek out and apply for positions that match 100% of their skillset, while male candidates are more willing to apply even when only a 60% match.
There is a bit of a tradeoff here, as each application takes time. But for positions where you match most of the qualifications, submitting an application could be worthwhile.
COVID-19 has upended what might have been the greatest economy in US history.
While job searches are often stressful, hopefully these strategies will lower your stress and help you to find a dream job.
Allie Grill is associate director of the Career Development Center at Susquehanna University and Matt Rousu is dean of the Sigmund Weis School of Business at Susquehanna University.