By Allie Grilland Matt Rousu

Susquehanna University

Wow – what a difference two months make.

In early February, the job market was arguably the strongest in this country’s history. Now there is high unemployment along with economic and public health uncertainty, making any job search much more difficult.

Still, there are things job seekers can do to help navigate the market in uncertain times.

In the first of two articles, we will share strategies to improve your job search in today’s uncertain environment.

Stay open minded

There is a theory on careers known as chaos theory. Chaos theory of careers maintains that uncertainty is the core principle.

It also suggests that careers are not linear or predictable. For those who are looking for a job right now, that might be reassuring.

Given the chaos (both literally and the theory), it is best to stay open to various possibilities and embrace the unknown.

Never was there a better time for this theory to be applied to job hunting than in today’s turbulent economic and public health climate.

In today’s climate, it’s best to approach your job search with flexibility, rather than a rigid set of goals.

It would also be wise to think through how your intended industry is impacted by COVID-19 now and how it might be impacted once the restrictions on physical distancing are removed.

Relatedly, if the industry you wish to get into is negatively affected, perhaps you could think about pivoting your plans and applying for jobs in industries that are experiencing an uptick in hiring due to COVID-19, such as shipping/logistics, major retailers, and health care.

Improve your social media presence

About 95% of firms will research a candidate online, through LinkedIn or other websites, before hiring them. Given COVID-19, almost all recruiting must be done virtually.

Even if you previously didn’t think you needed to have an online presence, you should produce content for recruiters to see and control content that would paint a less than favorable picture.

Your digital brand is what you control for others to see. One of the first things you should do is to create and update your LinkedIn profile, or create a digital portfolio that can include examples of your work.

Second, given that firms will be spending more time researching your online presence, it is more important than ever to control your digital shadow — what people can see or find about you online.

Check your privacy settings

Are you publicly searchable? Do you have images or text on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter that could be viewed as inappropriate? (Red Solo cups, for example?) If so, remove them. If others posted unflattering photos of you, untag yourself so employers can’t find them. This is a good investment of your time, as you don’t want a picture, status update, or tweet from several years ago to cost you a job today.

Changing your mindset first, then focusing on your digital profile and social media presence are two key tips to help job searchers.

Next week, we’ll share additional tips to manage your job hunt during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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.

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