If you’re considering starting an active job search in the new year, keep in mind that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed what that process looks like. A certified career coach shares advice on making the most of job hunting in 2021.
New year, new career?
According to Glassdoor, January is typically the peak month for job searching in a normal year: 22 percent more applications are started on the platform in U.S. than in any other month.
And amid layoffs and higher unemployment, there’s likely to be even more competition if you decide to start actively seeking out your next opportunity. So how can you stand out?
Certified Association CareerHQ coach said step number one is to ensure that your job search strategy tells a clear and compelling story.
“From your cover letter and resume to your LinkedIn profile and even how you present yourself in virtual interviews, people trust people who are consistent,” she said. “Develop a story that explains the motivation behind your job search. If you can distill your experiences down to a clear story, you’re more likely to be perceived as memorable, trustworthy, and authentic.”
But COVID-19 also means that some of your job search strategies will have to change. For example, although you can’t meet in person, it’s still imperative to grow your network.
“Send lots of outreach emails—to former colleagues, mentors, friends, and friends of friends—and ask for a virtual meeting,” she said. “Then, make the most of that time by sharing your story and asking about theirs. Try to identify common values and shared experiences to foster connection.”
On those calls, ask for their advice. “Be specific about what kind of support you need most, like getting resume feedback or putting in an internal referral with HR,” Anderson-Mabry said.
Since interviews are likely to take place remotely via Zoom or some other digital tool, job seekers should brush up on how to look and sound their best in a virtual environment. “To start, practice and test your setup with a friend or family member who can provide honest feedback,” she said. “Ask them if the lighting is adequate, if your voice and sound are clear, if the camera is at the right angle and height, and if the background is suitable for an interview.”
But even if you’re dedicated and do everything right, what steps should you take if you’re just not hearing back from employers?
First, don’t give up. “Job searching is a skill, so if you’re feeling a bit stick, skill-build in this department,” she said. “Seek out free guides and podcasts that cover professional development topics, or work on your leadership and communication skills using online learning platforms.”
In addition, take time to assess your online presence to ensure that your brand is helping your job-search odds.
“If want to really come across as a polished professional, build out a website to ensure your digital footprint is one you can be proud of,” she said. “This is not only a way to showcase your skills, talents, and professional successes, but it will also show that you’re truly dedicated to your job search efforts.”