What Parents Should Know About Job Seeking During COVID-19

It’s challenging to be a job seeker, especially when parenthood demands add complexity to looking for a new job. Still, a new academic year is all about reinvention, a good excuse to tee off your own. Here’s what parents should know about job seeking during the pandemic.

Overview. 

There’s mixed news about the US economy, which can be confusing for job seekers. Glassdoor’s senior economist and data scientist Daniel Zhao summarizes: “U.S. job openings improved slowly in August, rising 2 percent month-over-month to 4.97 million. Job openings are still 18 percent below pre-crisis levels. There is still a long road ahead for the economic recovery.”

Recovery is mounting, though slowly, and there are certainly job opportunities to pursue. According to Glassdoor’s data, healthcare, transportation and logistics, education, manufacturing, and technology are just some industries showing a solid number of open positions.

Get your game face on.

You’re ready for this. It’s a matter of wrapping your mind around the project and getting your approach up to speed. Sharon Potsch, the owner of recruiting firm HirePlexus, advises: “Really, acknowledge to yourself (and your family and friends) that this is hard–don’t be too proud to give in a bit to the difficulties of searching for a job during a pandemic.”

Even as you recognize the challenges, keep in mind that a good strategy can help make this doable.

Knowing where your motivation is, doing this for yourself and your family, can cement your focus and give you the grit to dig into the process to secure your next fit.

A job-seeker routine.

While you want to put daily time into your search, be strategic. Potsch advises: “Schedule job seeking into your day, but put time limits in place.” You want to be disciplined in your search, but spending too much or not enough time each day can make your daily routine feel uncomfortable.

Also keep in mind that patience is key. This can be difficult when you’re waiting to hear back about a resume submission or an interview. Know that the pace of business may be moving differently now. “Hiring managers are also experiencing their own difficulties, whether it be health-related or caretaking, and those issues are stretching out decision-making times.” Potsch shares.

Strategies for searching in the current market.

How should you alter your search strategy, considering the current job market? Potsch explains: “before the pandemic, clients were more open to looking at candidates who might come from different industries and seeing how their skills are adaptable. Now, with limited resources, clients are really looking for specific, exact experience. Because of this, it’s important to be very specific when applying for jobs and paying attention to highlighting the exact areas of your background that match–and making the connections yourself for hiring managers for the areas that don’t.”

This means carefully tapering your resume and cover letter for each position to which you apply. Also, make your resume application tracking system (ATS) friendly.

Another helpful strategy: revise and refresh your LinkedIn profile. Expand your network.  Reach out to contacts, old and new. Potsch recommends connecting with industry communities, groups, and societies, which can bolster your network and your resume.

Up your pro game.

Potsch advises that your job search is an opportunity to familiarize yourself with “tools that you may never have used before. For example, get comfortable using the G Suite of applications. . . spend some time taking small bites of new things–and while you’re doing that, you’re building upon your skillset so that you can more quickly hit the ground running whether you decide to consult, or continue to pursue a direct-hire role.”

It’s also important to get savvy about new job search protocol. Potsch explains: “Everything is video–if you’re not familiar with selling yourself in an interview format via video, it’s a good idea to do some trial runs with friends or family to ensure your camera, laptop, or Ipad is positioned in the most flattering way possible–and do a triple check on your background and surroundings.”

Also, keep in mind that while remote access may make it seem like the process is less formal, you don’t want to miscalculate. Potsch advises: “What hasn’t changed is the level of professionalism that clients are still expecting — despite the ability to wear stretchy clothing it’s important to emulate somewhat onsite attire in how you choose to present yourself for these interviews. The same goes for follow-ups; send the letter, send the email, treat that just the same as you would have before the pandemic.”

Get your gig on.

Technology has enabled more flexible opportunities for workers, which can be helpful, especially for parents. If you’re not ready for full-time employment, freelance or contract work might be a good way to ease back in.

Potsch explains: “Gig working is a fantastic way to make contacts and start bringing income in while you seek that ideal salaried role, but it can also be very time-consuming. When you start billing for every hour you work, there are nonbillable hours that make the billable hours possible. Until you get your stride, it can be time-consuming to get your gig career up and to go–learning new technologies (the G Suite!), getting the technology up to speed so that you can take on virtual/remote work, getting up to speed with new teammates. Many factors go into a successful gig working.”

Remember, there’s a place for parents in this economy: they know how to work, and they know how to hustle.  Potsch urges: “stay focused on your worth and the steps of the process.” Good luck-you’ve got this.

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