Coronavirus and job search: How to get a job in this recession

Jobs in the time of Covid-19

The impact of this deadly virus and actions taken by governments are affecting businesses and industries across the globe. Some, like the travel industry, are staring at one of the worst crises of their time. Countries and cities that go through a long shutdown period will force many out of business for good, especially micro and small firms and others to lay off employees. Many corporates have already initiated a lockdown-like state with mandatory work-from-home exercise.

An ongoing job-hunt and a pandemic make for a heavy combination. How so? By now, it is pretty evident that this virus has not just attacked our bodies, but also shaken our economies and stock markets. If an economy plummets into a recession, almost all of us are at risk of losing our jobs. Especially if you are a job-seeker, searching for a job in a recession will be a Herculean task and you need a battle plan. Use these points to ensure job safety.

Less is more

Your job search strategy in a recession should focus on applying to fewer job openings, not more. Confused? In trying times, you need to narrow down to companies that you want to work for and then find a reasonable opening in just those firms. The logic is to direct your energies towards a few quality job applications, the ones that stand out from the multitude of mediocre job applications. Do not try to spread yourself thin by applying anywhere and everywhere in the market. This is one of the most ill-suited times for that.

Selecting the firm

You are in a recession where if your previous firm or industry was not doing well, your employer had to lay you off. When jobs are scarce, target industries that are growing, hiring rapidly or are recession proof. Further within those, look at firms that have robust financials or obvious growth plans. For instance, in startups, education technology players continue to hire and show growth currently.

Step out of your comfort zone

Tough times are not exactly about choice but about survival. To find your next job in a flaky market, be prepared to step out of your comfort zone. Apart from switching industries, consider switching geographies. Go to cities where the jobs are and business is brisk. Similarly, you may specialise in handling customer complaints on call. Now, create more opportunities for yourself by trying other, novel roles such as inside sales.

Multi-channel approach

To find and reach out to the best opportunities possible, do not rely on job boards alone. Explore job fairs, reach out to recruiters, tap into your college and school alumni networks for openings in their firms. Leverage your LinkedIn profile to get noticed, set up meetings with your first and second degree connections. Invest time in cold calls and reaching out to decision makers who are not part of your network yet.

Different, customized strokes

Once you have identified the firms and roles, do not use the same resume for each application. Each vacancy has a job description (JD) which gives you an idea of the skill-set, achievements and qualifications required. Understand these and present a tailor-made resume that is aligned with the requirements. Ask for help from existing employees. Restructure your resume to highlight points relevant for the role.

Flexibility and fit

When the job market is down, demand for jobs exceeds the supply. Due to this, the salary offered is lower too, which is intuitive, going by economic theory. To adapt to this environment, you need to be flexible and realistic in expectations from role and salary. To beat the competition, you also need to prove that you are a stronger fit for the role. Convince the employer about how you will deliver better and faster results than anyone else. Prepare hard and put your best foot forward in the selection process.

Seek income not job

When jobs are tough to find, change your definition of a job to an income earning opportunity. It’s a need. Thus, in a recession, imagine everything that can fill your pocket. Grab any freelance assignments, contract work, time-bound project work, internships, pure commission-based sales, online tuitions or other activities that either leverage your skills or time. With money in your pocket, you are less desperate at job interviews and thus get selected faster.

Strengthen relationship

Even though we are all in a tough spot, take out time to build stronger relationships. While you are on the look-out for jobs, make sure you connect opportunities with people in your network who might need those openings. Your network will pay you back in kind. When you join a new job, keep relationships and open opportunities warm for at least 3 months until you are confirmed as a permanent employee and have settled in.

By Jennifer Pawlewicz
Jennifer Pawlewicz Career Engagement and Marketing Specialist Jennifer Pawlewicz