If you are back in the job market due to Covid-19, you are probably finding it is a very different job market today. There is a lot more competition for advertised jobs. Some industries are not hiring at all. Many jobseekers are anxious about their finances. With fewer opportunities to socialise and network, there is less flow of information about potential job opportunities.
How should you be approaching the search for a new job in this environment?
First, do some research. The industry or role you trained for may not be hiring right now and you may need to look further afield. What other roles are available in your industry? Which industries or regional areas have a shortage of candidates? Having done your research, form a shortlist of the roles you want. Continue to monitor what roles are advertised.
A key part of finding a role that suits you and where you will do well, is knowing and making use of your strengths. Try gathering feedback from family, colleagues, and friends. Ask them to tell you what they think are your specific strengths and talk about occasions when they observed you using those strengths in a meaningful way. If you can’t do this, try a strengths survey to identify your top strengths and then think about when you have used these strengths in the past to help you succeed or contribute. The VIA character strengths survey is free and provides valuable insights.
Next use the information to write a description of yourself when you are at your best. Think about all aspects of your life – sport, education, relationships, hobbies, volunteering, as well as previous jobs. Then think about how you might use your strengths in a different role. You can find more guidance on how to do this in this article. What job possibilities does this information open up for you?
Armed with this information, you can now refresh your online profiles and practice how you will present yourself when meeting possible employers. Review your resume and update your profile on LinkedIn. There is a lot of free guidance online on how to make your job applications, online profiles and resumes stand out. If you want to be considered for various different kinds of roles, it is advisable to draft your online profile in a way that shows you are open to change and focuses on strengths and abilities, not just experience. Ask people you trust to read it and comment.
Jobs are often found through networking. It’s important to think laterally about what connections you already have, and all their connections – not just their employers and co-workers but their clients, people they volunteer with, their partners or friends. People are more isolated and missing connection at present. Make connections online without asking for something by sharing information, joining a forum or commenting on something they have posted.
Don’t come straight out and ask for work. Be aware that the person you are contacting may be having a tough time as well. If you are having a conversation with one of your new contacts, show interest in how they are travelling and have some questions to ask about the nature of their industry, a course of study or an introduction.
It’s natural to feel overwhelmed, downcast or anxious when you are unemployed. Humans are attuned to notice the negative before the positive. It is a survival mechanism which can backfire.
Develop short term, middle and long term goals to keep a sense of purpose and help motivation, by focusing on the things you can control. While the long term goal is getting that job, a short term goal might be to update your resume or research job opportunities in a particular industry. A middle goal might be to talk to three people in the industry you are interested in or complete a short course. Each of these goals might involve a few steps or pathways. Document your goals and keep track of your progress.
Finally, make sure you take care of your physical and mental wellbeing. Eat healthily and keep active. Plan positive experiences to boost your mood, whether playing sport, catching up with a friend, or that really interests you. Other beneficial activities which can increase your positive emotions include doing something to help someone else and making a list of three things you are grateful for. Positive emotions actually inspire new ideas and actions and increase resiliency. You, your strengths and mindset are your best assets in locating that job.
Christa Ludlow is a Principal Consultant with Weir Consulting (National) and is a lawyer, qualified coach and mediator. She provides workplace conflict resolution, investigation, coaching and training services to clients in the public and private sectors.