IT careers: How to job hunt during a pandemic

For job hunters, strategies that worked before the pandemic may not today. Consider six job-search moves for these times
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The manager sent out 30 resumes touting all the various responsibilities he had taken on over the last few years. He called 30 former colleagues and badgered them for job leads. And he did five video job interviews, all with his television on in the background.

Mistake, mistake, mistake.

With each day the pandemic keeps its grip on the world and the global economy, the number of people looking for work grows. And that includes many – potentially millions – who haven’t had to search in a very long time.

What they may discover is a whole new world of job hunting. “It’s time to be really more pro-active,” says Val Olson, a career coach for Korn Ferry Advance. “This is an unprecedented time where so many people will be looking for jobs in a limited market.”

[ What careers are on the rise now? Read also 5 flourishing and 5 fading IT careers. ]

Six ways to job hunt during the pandemic

There are no foolproof steps, of course, but here are some strategies that may help job seekers adapt to the current and post-pandemic job environment.

1. Talk to people

The odds of getting a job are considerably higher if someone within a company recommends you. In a 2018 survey of more than 1,000 companies by the talent management software firm Silkroad, 78 percent of more than 320,000 hires the firms made were “offline,” meaning that the candidate came from somewhere other than a career site.

That means going out and networking, experts say. Tap people to learn about an industry, a company, and what roles are in demand. But be patient – people may take a little longer to respond these days.

2. Update your resume properly

A resume recapping prior responsibilities used to be enough to at least catch a hiring manager’s eye. That’s no longer the case. Career experts say a resume should instead showcase a person’s accomplishments in each job, using data and statistics to highlight successes. A resume is not the place to list your entire career history and give every detail of each job, says Korn Ferry Advance career coach Valerie Hayes.

A summary can speak about how your experiences have taught resiliency, agility, technical abilities, or other traits that a recruiter might look for.

It also doesn’t hurt to add a brief one-sentence summary of their professional career at the top of the resume, especially if you are considering switching out of an industry or career you’ve been in for a long time. That summary can speak about how your experiences have taught resiliency, agility, technical abilities, or other traits that a recruiter might look for. However, don’t fill the summary with corporate jargon such as “team player” and “value-adding.”

“I would rather see you have no summary than have a bad one,” says Korn Ferry Advance career coach Gabby Lennox.

[ Read also: IT career goals 2020: Most-wanted technology and core skills. ]

3. Update your social media resume 

LinkedIn and other online career sites are often the first stops for many talent acquisition specialists, and candidates should ensure that their profile gets their attention (or the attention of an artificial intelligence software designed to find potentially qualified candidates).

Start a new current employment section and call it "Seeking Opportunities."

“If you have lost your job, update that section with when your job ended. Then start a new current employment section and call it ‘Seeking Opportunities,’” advises Lennox. For the job title, enter the role you aspire to. Then in the description section, list what roles and responsibilities you want.

Finally, adjust your profile’s settings to show that you are actively seeking opportunities. This can keep your profile from dropping lower in online job search rankings, Lennox says.

4. Practice video interviews

"Take the time to learn that tech before you're in a position that you have to use it."

Video interviews have been gaining traction among many recruiters because they can eliminate the expense of bringing candidates to the office. One 2019 survey indicated that 47 percent of big employers already use video interviewing for some roles, and experts agree that video calls will only increase during and after the pandemic. ”Take the time to learn that tech before you’re in a position that you have to use it,” Olson says.

Beyond that, find a space to conduct an interview where there will be as few distractions as possible for the recruiter, and wear full business attire during the interview, not just nice clothing above the waist. “You never know when you may have to get up and get a document,” Lennox says.

Practice doing a video interview with a friend. Video conferencing software from Zoom and other providers is free now, and friends can judge how you look and sound. In addition, apps from Korn Ferry Advance and others can help evaluate your responses, eye contact, and other essential metrics and give feedback.

[ Read also: Zoom tips: 6 ways to make meetings better and Conducting remote interviews: 6 best practices. ]

5. Show empathy

When sending a thank-you note, a very brief video thank-you can help you stand out.

Experts say that hiring managers, recruiters, and people in professional networks are either going to be swamped, anxious, or both. Be respectful of that and ask how other people are feeling and whether their families and friends are safe. “Asking how they are adjusting is even more important right now,” Olson says.

This show of humanity can carry over into follow-up notes as well. When sending a thank-you note to a job interviewer or network contact, a very brief video thank-you can help you stand out. “Nothing too eccentric,” Olson advises, “just something a little different can be helpful.”

6. Be patient and flexible

Just as networking contacts may take a while to respond, so might job recruiters and hiring managers. Companies may take longer to fill roles. The waiting could be tough, but it’s necessary, experts say. “You have to be patient at a time when we’re all pretty low on patience,” Lennox says.

As for the job offer itself, you should never take a role you will hate, but you may need to become more flexible about hours, remote-work options, compensation, and other factors, Olson says, adding, “This is not a time for prosperity.”

[ Learn the do's and don'ts of multi-cloud: Get the free eBook, Multi-Cloud Portability for Dummies. ]

Editor's note: This story appeared originally on Korn Ferry's website as Job Hunting During a Pandemic. It is republished here with permission.

Val Olson, career coach, Korn Ferry Advance, brings excellence in coaching best practices, theory, and innovation to career service delivery.
Lead Career Coach Valerie Hayes provides leadership to the Korn Ferry Advance Career Advisory team and supports Korn Ferry Advance clients in managing all aspects of their careers.
Gabrielle (Gabby) Lennox is a Career Coach with Korn Ferry Advance based in Philadelphia.