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Job Hunting? How to Make the Most of Your Search During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Lakshmi Hutchinson

woman in empty office on laptop

If you’re a job seeker, you’re probably wondering (or worrying) what the current pandemic means for your search. While there are still many unknowns, there are some things you can do to prepare yourself to forge ahead. Start by setting realistic goals, reaching out to your network, and prepping for virtual interviews and remote work. 

Flexibility and patience

While it can be disheartening to see the number of new job postings dwindle as the pandemic continues, it’s important to remember that organizations are dealing with uncertainty, too. And as a result, many may have to delay their hiring processes. And while patience will certainly come in handy, there are other things that you can do to put yourself in a better position in the meantime:

  • Keep applying for opportunities that appeal to you. Since other job seekers may choose to take a break from their search, you could potentially find yourself in a smaller field of candidates.
  • Follow up with the organizations to which you have already applied. Being proactive and reaching out can make a great impression. It’s good to keep in touch, ask questions, and convey your continued interest.
  • Consider expanding your job search parameters. Use idealist.org to search specifically for remote work opportunities.
  • Take advantage of virtual networking opportunities. While many in-person networking events have been canceled or postponed, others have moved online. Engage for Good’s 2020 conference, Awaken Impact and the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ 2020 Fundraising Day in New York are now both virtual events. 
  • This is also a good time to build on existing relationships. You can use this time to catch up with old colleagues, bosses, and other contacts.

Virtual interviews and remote work

You may find yourself having to interview—and potentially work—virtually, for the first time. The good news is that this is a skill you can practice and refine.

  • If you are scheduled for a virtual interview, ensure that you have any needed software or applications installed on your computer (and your correct login details handy if it’s been a while). Doublecheck that your camera and microphone are both working.
  • Find a location with good lighting and minimal visual distractions, and try out different camera angles to make sure you’re happy with how you look on camera. If you feel you need practice, do a test run beforehand. You can record yourself, watch it back and see what adjustments you want to make.
  • Of course, it’s important to look professional and be prepared just as you would for an in-person interview. A natural posture and good eye contact are key!
  • Making a good impression during a virtual interview can also demonstrate your comfort level with working remotely and communicating via videoconference. Be sure to highlight any skills or experience that show how you are suited to work remotely, if needed.

Managing stress

The stresses of being cooped up at home, dealing with changes in family responsibilities, and facing financial uncertainty, can be a lot to deal with at once. You may find that you do need a break from your job search in order to look after yourself and your health.

  • While you don’t want to abandon your job search completely, cut yourself some slack and limit the number of times you’re going online to look for new postings. 
  • Do whatever you need to do to relax in this unsettling climate. Whether it’s reading a book instead of checking the news on your phone, or having a virtual happy hour with friends, take time to unwind and enjoy a little “normalcy.”
  • Do your best to stay active and get fresh air. Depending on where you live, you can still get outside for walks or exercise as long as you practice social distancing. This is also a great time to try online dance, yoga, or other workouts. If you have an Amazon Prime membership, there are plenty of exercise videos to stream for free including official Zumba and Doonya Bollywood classes. YouTube also has a number of free options, from strength training and aerobics to yoga. Some states have even teamed up with some of the mindfulness apps that many of us know and love to offer free access to all residents.

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Lakshmi Hutchinson

Lakshmi Hutchinson is a freelance writer with experience in the nonprofit, education, and HR fields. She is particularly interested in issues of educational and workplace equity, and in empowering women to reach their professional goals. She lives in Glendale, California with her husband, twin girls, and tuxedo cat.

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