Finding a job post COVID

A look at some ways to change the employment search process to land a job

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Finding a job during or even post COVID may be a tough challenge for all those prospective candidates out there. While recent data indicates the job market is improving, the improvement is neither cheerful nor does it guarantee ease of finding a job.

According to the recent data released by the Centre for Monitoring of Indian Economy (CMIE), the country’s urban unemployment rate has seen a positive change from approximately 25 per cent on May 31, to 17 per cent in the week ending on June 7.

As for the rural unemployment rate, it improved by .21 percentage points to 17.71 per cent as on week ending on June 7 — a marginal improvement.

So yes, there have been improvements in the economy. However, candidates will still need to change their job search process a bit to land a job. Here are five ways to do so.

1. Brush up your skills

Learn new things while at home. Easier said than done. Probably the first among many tips offered by multiple websites, is to invest your time in learning. Sure, but learn what?

Given the current situation, it is recommended that you brush up a few important skills to improve the chances of finding a job.

Competition out there is going to be stiffer now than ever before. And if you are interested in refreshing your skills by taking courses, it would be helpful to invest time in skills that will always retain value and will remain the key drivers employers will look for. There are many options for learning today, and it will be easy to find classes on public speaking, negotiation skills, as well as personal and business marketing skills to name a few. These soft skills will always be valuable and in demand, as there is no chance that they will be automated in the future. According to a job seeker outlook survey, over 50 per cent of respondents were utilising this time for self-development

2. Remote work opportunities

The idea of virtual work is here to stay, and we are probably moving in the direction, albeit slowly.

For the freshers out there, who are looking for jobs right now, it is better to get a freelance job or a work-from-home internship during this time. It will add some work experience to your resume. Remote work postings are increasing on job portals, such as LinkedIn.

It is not just freshers but even workers across blue/white/grey collars may be looking at job opportunities just to get by. The pandemic has hit some of us hard and shone the light on the depth of inequality that exists in the economy. Not everyone is cushioned from the adverse impacts of job loss.

It is a good time to make use of the remote work opportunities available in the market. Moreover, in areas such as software, finance and media, there is more positivity regarding remote work than in health care or manufacturing.

It is also boom time for the gig workers or contract workers, as companies are wary of spending much during these challenging times. Job seekers can take advantage of this by taking up contract jobs to stay relevant and at the same time earn their bread. There are other benefits as well. Working on a contract basis, there is always a possibility to further extend the contact, expand networks, and with the right attitude, even transform into a permanent employee. Moreover, prospective employers will be interested to note how the candidate has been keeping busy and whether she/he has picked or is picking up new skills during this time.

3. Pivot, Reinvent and step out of the silo

It is important to keep you ego in the refrigerator while searching for a job in these times. A tunnel vision while searching for a job is not helpful. One cannot keep thinking along the lines of “Oh, I am a marketing guy, how can I be in sales?” It is essential to expanding search borders a bit.

It is time to get real. Getting a job and keep running is more important right now than making peer comparisons. While reinventing oneself or pivoting to another job description is not a piece of cake, it is easier in our times. One can go back to school by taking advantage of the large number of online resources available, obtaining accreditations and getting certified or even accepting a job at the bottom of the ladder and starting over in a new field.

Adaptability is critical at this juncture. Even within organisations, job roles are becoming blurred with employees donning multiple hats and taking on many responsibilities simultaneously.

It is wiser to think of this as searching for an income source rather than a job. It is a need. Moreover, with money in the pocket, people tend to be less desperate at job interviews, which works better than all the interview tips and advice out there.

4. Time to network

We are all in a tough spot at the moment. Organisations need intense networking and also required to build relationships to keep the business running.

For those still in search of a job, networking is all the more important. Even those hesitant to reach out to unknown people, need to engage in this activity. After 10 cold calls or messages, the 11th one may give a positive response.

It is not always about the self. While looking out for jobs, one should take the time to connect relevant opportunities with people who actually need them. The network will pay back in kind.

Networking is important even after you land a job of choice. It is advisable to keep relationships warm and open for at least a few months until you have settled in as a permanent employee in the organisation.

5. Be prepared – now more than ever

Mistakes, that could have been avoided, will only diminish the chances of finding a good job in an already sluggish market.

Preparing adequately for the interview is always a good strategy. In these tough times, when most interviews are taking place online, you have to adjust the routine to suit a virtual setup. This includes making sure the microphone and camera are working properly, adjusting the camera angle, speaking clearly without shouting as most people are likely to do, to make themselves heard over video, and dressing up for the occasion. Other tips are focussing on body language and selecting a decent backdrop for the session.

For many out there, who have been hit by furloughs and layoffs, the search may be hard but not impossible. Until the market pulls itself back up, you have to do all that you can to survive and see this phase through. Being picky and holding on to old CTCs will not help. The key to survival is going to be adaptability and being open to change, because the world, as we know it, has already undergone change.

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