How to Job Hunt During Covid-19

I was on LinkedIn recently to update my profile, and see what my professional colleagues are up to. Imagine my surprise when I accidentally came across an Associate level job that had 947 applicants! Yes, you heard that right, 947 people applied for one job! I was shocked! I mean sure COVID hit everyone around the world pretty bad but I had no idea it was the Hunger Games on an Olympic scale. The more I did a deep dive on LinkedIn to find out what the trend is, the more surprised I was. Apparently, that job with 947 applicants was just the tip of the icebergs. Due to COVID and the many downsizing by companies, some jobs on LinkedIn have over 1000 applicants. This got me thinking, does this mean there are 1000 people qualified to do the same thing, or are people just applying to any jobs they think might remotely suit them.

If you’re currently job hunting as well, whether you are starting out in your career or a mid-level professional, here are some things to keep in mind.

Update your LinkedIn Profile

I know this sounds basic and obvious, but you’d be amazed at how many people don’t actually update their profile. They have a LinkedIn profile filled with their email and mobile number and they think with that info, they can just apply to any job and their application would go through. Odds are if your profile isn’t updated and clearly state what your capabilities and experience are, recruiters will not be contacting you no matter how good your profile pic is.

Speaking of updating, when was the last time you upgraded your skill? Most seasoned professionals think that just because they have reached a certain level in their career, it’s ok to stop learning. That they have somehow become the ultimate Jedi in their field. Yoda level if you will. Sorry to break it to you, but in today’s day and age and the fierce competition out there, the people in mid-level management have to fight twice as hard for the position being offered because not only is the competition peers from your age, but it’s also Millennials who probably graduated in the last five years and at the age of 25 already has a Masters Degree. In addition, they most likely have at least 1000 followers on social media. Yes, wisdom and experience are things these spring chicks might be lacking, but when it comes down to work output, mid level position managers have to be tech-savvy and keep up with the times. If that means joining a class on Skillshare, LinkedIn, or Coursera, do it. Then proudly update your 2020 achievement on the education section and prove to the world that you can indeed teach an old dog new tricks.

Use a professional profile picture

This IS KEY! It’s the first thing anyone sees. Make sure it is professional and polished. Not too fake and stiff but basically a representation of the best version of you. I’ve seen plenty of LinkedIn profiles that seemed to be pics from social media that was cropped to be a profile pic. When I was doing recruitment for my team, the first thing I did was to look at the profile picture of candidates before I looked at their achievements. Often first impressions count more than accomplishments. Today’s recruiters are looking for someone who can fit into their team, more than just somebody who can do the job. With the many hours that we spend at work, chemistry is important, and first impressions matter.

Set yourself apart

I know that not all of us have had the experience of working for multinational Fortune 500 companies, International Organizations or Unicorn Startups. No matter what type of place or company you’ve worked for, make sure to highlight your achievements, your contributions, and your skills. A great recruiter will see what you have brought to the table and can bring to their table instead of a fancy logo on your LinkedIn profile.

I personally have worked with people who were in the above organizations and to be honest, they managed to get into those companies mostly because they went to the right university or they knew someone who can get them in. When push came to shove, they were lacking in language skills, couldn’t problem solve, couldn’t handle a budget, and often couldn’t even manage a project on time and within said budget. So don’t feel that just because you didn’t work for companies that are household names, you can’t get your dream job. You’d be surprised how today, the benchmark is a great attitude, adaptability, and outside the box thinking which you can’t get if you’ve spent too long being a yes person in a multinational organization.

Only apply to jobs that you can actually do

When people are in-between jobs, they often do the one thing that they shouldn’t do, apply to every single job they see, whether it fits their profile or not. I know it may sound counterintuitive, but you really shouldn’t apply to jobs just because you really need one.

Instead, spend some time reading the job desk, is it something you can actually do? have you had experience doing that in the past? is it something that is achievable for you? In my younger days, I use to apply to all and any jobs that came across my path. It was like casting a net in the ocean without actually checking if there are any fish in that location. What ended up happening was I clicked and applied to so many jobs there were days where my fingers got cramped. Out of the 200 applications I submitted, I only got 1 call back. After reading all the advice and comments on LinkedIn from recruiters and HR people, I realized that instead of applying to 200 jobs, I should’ve maybe just applied to 20 which I was qualified to do and had the skills to do.

Do not exaggerate your skillset

It’s ok to positively highlight what you are capable of doing, but don’t flat out lie. If you’re at a certain level of a language, please don’t say you’re fluent. There is a big difference between a Professional level and a Fluent level. Please remember that you might actually be tested during the interview. I’ve called applicants who said they were fluent in English, only to find they can’t even string a sentence correctly. After a few seconds, of course, it was evident that if this person was exaggerating on his / her language skills, what else would he/she exaggerate on?

If you’ve learned some new skills or taken courses that you have not finished, please think through how those skills can contribute to the company you are applying to. I’ve seen CVs that lists down the applicant speaks basic Thai, French, Korean, Portuguese. Instead of being a plus point, the first thing that came to mind for me was “This person never finishes anything. Can this person see projects through, or will he/she lose focus in the middle of a project?”. Every single inch in your CV is prime real estate, just like decorating your house, use it wisely. No clutters, please.

Be wary of jobs that keep being reposted

You know the type, the same job keeps being promoted or posted every few months. I know it’s tempting to apply and think that they might not have found the right candidate, but ask yourself this if the job had decent pay or is a positive environment to work with, why is it reposted every few months?

I’ve seen organizations where this happens and most often than not it’s because the position reports to a difficult manager or is a position that multitasks on so many things that the person holding that position literally has no life. Similar to being Miranda Priestley’s Assistant in The Devil Wears Prada. The good news is, these posts are often desperate for candidates, so if you really are desperate for a job and really need the money, go ahead and apply. Just walk in knowing that it will probably be one of the most difficult jobs you will ever have in your life, you will cry numerous times in the bathroom, you will have realized that hell is real. But on the upside, you’ll get a paycheck to pay your bills.

Do your research

I can’t stress this enough. Applicants often come into interviews thinking they can “wing it”. Please don’t. You need to have done basic research on everything and everyone, or at least the people that you will be working with on the job you applied for. After the basic research, you need to know exactly how your previous experience and skills can have the company move forward. Basically what you bring to the table. I’ve had candidates walk into an interview not even sure what the company does or even bothered to visit the company’s website. Find out what type of people and graduates the company hires, present yourself accordingly as to how you would fit in with them.

At the end of the day, yes luck and being at the right place at the right time matters. But we still have to prepare for when luck does knock on our door. As the saying goes “Preparation is key” Good luck!

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