With a record number of Americans losing their jobs since the coronavirus outbreak and the number of job openings quickly shrinking, finding a job or changing careers may seem impossible.
But there are a few moves you can make to improve the chances of being hired. Focus on submitting a well-reviewed application and use the time to network, learn a new skill, and polish your application materials.
“This is not the time to be applying to hundreds of jobs hoping one sticks,” said Allison McLean, career coach at Springboard, a remote learning platform.
While companies are pulling back from posting many positions, that doesn’t mean they aren’t hiring at all. Now may be a good time to do your research and learn about positions that aren’t advertised.
“The best way to reach out to the recruiter is through a contact in the company,” said Shweta Khari, a career expert at CareerBright. “Let your friends and connections on LinkedIn know that you are currently in the market for a job.”
Reach out to recruiters and people in your desired field and see if they’re hiring. You don’t need to ask about open positions specifically. You should also focus on creating an informal relationship and learning from them, according to Alexandra Levit, a career coach and author.
Polish your application materials
Start with adding your most recent experience and skills to your resume and LinkedIn profile and keep that updated while you’re actively applying for jobs.
“Practice customizing your resume to the type of positions that you are likely to pursue,” Levit said. “Consider running it by a hiring manager in the field for review and feedback.”
The competition will be tough so improving your portfolio and materials is essential. What you learn and improve now will pay off in the long run — if not now.
Learn a new skill
Whether you’re changing careers, just graduating, or looking for a new job, this is a good time to fill any knowledge and skill gaps you may have.
“Take advantage of free or low-cost online resources like Coursera, Udemy, and EdX,” Levit said. “You can gain an additional certification or take coursework that will make it easier to translate your skills to hiring managers in the new field.”
You could complete an online course in graphic design, data analytics, SEO, or any other skill, according to Lindsey Pollak, a career expert, and author. The competition will be tough, so improving and sprucing up your portfolio can help you get your next role.
If you’re about to graduate
If you’re graduating this year, you may have a hard time job-hunting. Finding internships or jobs will be difficult, because many companies are reducing workforce, cutting budgets, and freezing hiring, according to Khari.
But there are a few steps you can take.
“Your college or university career center is a fantastic resource for free online interview prep, resume writing, job search seminars and more,” said Lindsey Pollak, a career expert and author. “Most centers are also keeping track of what employers are hiring in this difficult time.”
If your school has moved your career fair online, make sure to attend it and make the most of it.
If your summer internship got canceled or it didn’t lead to the full-time position you were hoping to get, contact the recruiter and ask if there are any remote projects or tasks that you could do for them in the meantime, McLean said.
If you’re changing careers
If you decide to change your career path now, you might want to customize different versions of your resume for various industries, according to Pollak.
Additionally, you might need to strengthen your portfolio to show some relevant experience in the new field, Khari said.
“Tough times often evoke emotions and opportunities for us to grow or branch out to a career or passion that we have had deep inside of us,” Khari said, “but never had the time or courage to explore further.”
Read more information and tips in our Advice section