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Pandemic-proof Job Search Tips

Updated: Mar 30, 2021

AVA is an action-oriented learning community for ambitious professional women. We provide an open, honest place to learn and practice the tools and skills you need to Assess, Visualize, and Advance your career. Share on social media @advancewithava.


The jobless rate for recent college grads in the US in 2020 is higher than 17%. AVA hosted two virtual panels early in 2021 with industry experts sharing their tips and tools to get an edge on finding a job this year. Here is some of their collective wisdom.

The Grey Cloud

Many of you have told us that the number of jobs available has declined as companies cut back. Alex Noble, one of our panelists representing recent grads, shares her experience that entry level positions have been hard to find and video interviewing has been an adjustment. Rosie McCarthy, a career coach with Badass Careers, says her clients are feeling ghosted and aren't hearing back from recruiters or companies because the increased volume of applicants. And even if you eventually find a job opportunity, you are trying to stand out in a virtual environment. Overall, it feels like it is taking a long time and it can be hard to say motivated.

The Silver Lining

The upside of the pandemic is that there is more access to job opportunities and, more importantly, to decision makers. You can attend virtual panels, belong to key LinkedIn groups, and digitally get information and get yourself seen by those that can help you. Job recruiters are able to reach out to more students through virtual recruiting opportunities. Sarah Iglesias, a talent acquisition leader from Viasat, shares a success story highlighting increased access and equity in the recruiting process.

There are also specific job market opportunities in industries like cyber security, Ecommerce, logistics, technology and health care. If these are areas of interest to you, start building your skills now, and it can offer more open doors now and a long-term career trajectory, says Sabrina Ho, CEO of Half The Sky.

Pandemic Or Not, Follow These Tips

All of our recruiting experts in both of our panels agreed that there are four important things you must do to increase your opportunities no matter what is going on with the job market.

1) Be Flexible

It’s not a bad idea to take a job right now that isn’t your dream gig. You will earn money and build skills. Jack Parson, CEO of the Youth Group in the United Kingdom, encourages you not to overthink it and wait for the perfect job. Don't let others get ahead of you, and go for it now.

2) Network, Network, Network

This is one of the areas that has gotten easier during the pandemic, since people are home and more businesses are focusing on kindness.

Jack shared advice on how to connect with people that can help you. Everyone likes to help, give advice and support. With the right message, you can succeed in connecting.

  • Don’t overcomplicate it. Be concise and focused in your communication.

  • Reach out. Send a message on why you are reaching out to them.

  • Be specific about what they can do to help you.

  • Ask for a brief amount of their (5-10 min coffee).

  • Approach it from a place of learning (interested in your career or learn about...).

It is also much easier to find people on LinkedIn. Sarah shared the key tip of connecting beyond recruiters to people that have the job title that you want and asking for a brief amount of their time. You can find out more about the job, their career path and maybe they will have connections that can help you get an in on an open position.

Courtney Lach leads Qualcomm's student engagement efforts and offers the key tip that you can find a way in with past interns. Think about who you are connected with and who they are connected with and find a way to get an in.

3) Build, Build, Build

You can always be building on your personal brand and your skills. Position your image for the job you want or the job you are applying for. The basics always apply. It's important that you build a consistent brand across all platforms: your social media, your LinkedIn profile especially and your resume. Sabrina also says to clean up your social media and use key words in your resume to help it come up in recruiting database searches.

4) Get The Basics Right

Have a clear, concise, authentic personal brand statement. Write a visually appealing resume using key words, have a clear cover letter. Follow up in writing with the recruiter or hiring manager after the interview, summarizing your skills and why you are right for the position. Rosie explains a lot of this and shares some impactful resumes templates in the video below:

Positioning Yourself For Success While You Are Looking

To stay motivated and to continue to increase your chances, build your skillset, volunteer, start a side gig or start a business. If you show a prospective employer that you didn’t just sit around and waste time in this incredibly difficult time but also added these credentials to your portfolio, "you’ll be showing that you had the grit and resilience that they are looking for in an employee", says Sarah. There are more opportunities than ever to do projects or make money with side hustles. Identify the skills you might need for your future job (click on the video below to follow Sabrina's tool) and sign up for courses, through programs like Udemy, Coursera, LinkedIn Learning, etc..

How To Get Noticed

Since there are more people than ever looking for jobs, how can you stand out in your job search, during the recruiting process and during the interview?

Jack shared his 3 C's:

  1. Start the Conversation. Standing out sometimes means showing up. Reach out.

  2. Cause a bit of Chaos (respect the process but good chaos helps you stand out). Write a resume that looks a bit different. Rosie has a unique tip to send in a video pitch or mock up something to visually show your skills.

  3. Be Consistent. Be who you are. If you are able to articulate this, it makes the recruiters job easier.

In the interview process, the basics still apply. Be prepared, do your due diligence on the company. You can show show that you are passionate about the company by asking thoughtful questions about the company culture.

Virtual interviewing often takes place in your personal space. Try to set it up so there are no distractions (turn off notifications, tell family to stay out) and make sure your backdrop is simple, even if it is a blank wall. Be human. There are more opportunities for things to go wrong in this current environment. When it does, it is better to explain it, then to let it interfere with connecting with the interviewer.

Most Important Take Care Of Yourself To Be Your Best

All of our panelists were sympathetic to the current difficulties facing job seekers and emphasized the need to take care of yourself to stay resilient. There are a lot of complications and blurred lines between work and personal in the last year. As Sarah said, be kind to yourself. Being true to where you are throughout the process is important. Know that it will take time and stick with it. Most importantly, as Jack enthusiastically put it, "your career is not cancelled".


What topics do you want to discuss? Let us know in the comments below. #advancewithava

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