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  • Shaunna Levy

Should Your Job Search Strategy Change During A Pandemic?

I started off the week thinking I'd blog about whether liking your job has anything to do with being good at it. And while I think many of you may be working in a job you don't like, it seems more fitting to write about how to go about looking for a job during a pandemic.

A record 36 million Americans have filed for unemployment as of last week. A mere 3 million people filed last week alone. These numbers are staggering. And we really don't know how or when our economy is going to rebound.

I am not going to sugar-coat it, competition is going to be fierce for a while. You absolutely have to put your best foot forward every, single time. The good news is, I don't think my tips have changed. Add an extra dose of empathy and understanding and you're good to go.

Tip 1: Be specific about what you are looking for

Our first reaction when we are laid off or begin to look for work is to frantically apply to every job that interests us. We set our search terms on the various job sites too broadly and we are inundated with so many options we don't know where to start. We begin to over-apply and soon we've forgotten what we applied for.

First, take the time to really think about what you want to do. Define what you liked doing in your previous role, maybe even name a few things you didn't get to do so often but would like to do more of. Next, using the terms you've noted, do a few searches on job listings sites and see what comes up. What are the titles you are seeing? Read through the descriptions and see what resonates. This will help you be more specific about which roles to look at.

The second step is to think about what's important to you - what are your values? Once these are defined, find companies that will support them. Check the companies out on Glassdoor -- is what they articulate out the same experience employees are having? Make a list.

Finally, combine your lists from step 1 and 2 to create filters on the job search sites which apply to you. If nothing comes up immediately, that's okay. It takes time to find the right job so remember to be patient. It will happen.

Tip 2: Make sure your resume, LinkedIn, portfolio, etc. are up to date

Here's the thing, what you discover if you follow Tip 1 will help you with the words you need to use to update your resume and LinkedIn profile. We all know the key to getting noticed when we fill out an online application is keywords. The keywords we have in our resume or application need to match somewhat with the words used in the job description.

Remember, you aren't just looking for a job. You are looking for the right job, so you have to be conscious to include the words for your ideal role (hint: reread Tip 1) and words from the job description.

If you can afford it, getting a professional to help with either your resume or LinkedIn profile or both is a good idea. They offer an objective opinion on how you should market yourself and may be able to do it in far less time than you can. (No, this does not mean you skip doing what I outlined in Tip 1.) If you can only afford one, invest in help with your resume. Once it's done you simply use it to fill out or update your LinkedIn profile.

If can't afford it, reach out to those you trust to help you. And don't only pick the people who'll say the nice things. Find one or two who will give direct and honest feedback. You'll be surprised about what they can offer.

Tip 3: Network, network, network

Between 70% and 80% of open positions are not posted. That said, reach out to those you know, and who are still employed, and let them know you are looking for a new role. This isn't a blanket notification to your entire network. You need to be specific about what role you are looking for and what help you need.

Is there a position open at their company that you are interested in applying for? Are you requesting an informational interview? Do you need an introduction to someone else? Most people are happy to help you, especially those you know, so make it easy on them by specifically asking for what you need.

As you reach out remember they are likely busier than ever. They're transitioning to a new way of working and could be juggling how they manage their work, their families, and trips to the grocery store. That said, be patient. Overly pinging them is obnoxious and not going to help. You'll only add to their feeling overwhelm. Pace your pings and when you do hear back remember to be grateful and understanding.

Tip 4 (specifically for anyone who is a not male): If you think you don't meet the requirements, think again

You know that list of requirements you see in every job description? I call this the "wish list." Yes, it's important that you be able to do most of the things listed, but you don't need to be able to do all of them. Stop a minute and read that sentence again because if you're not male, your head may have exploded.

I'll say it again and encourage you to write it down: You need to be able most of the things listed in the requirements, but you don't need to be able to do all of them. And my most I'm talking 50%-60%.

This is why I call this section the "wish list." Employers are looking for someone who can fulfill the job requirements, but they also want that applicant to open to new learning and challenges. The list is in priority order, so if you meet the first 5 out of 10, you are good to go.

As I said above, the competition is going to be tough for who knows how long. And you are going to get tired and feel a little bit beat down. Looking for a new position is not a sprint. It's a marathon. It takes time, authenticity and commitment to find the role that is right for you.

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