[Forbes, Getty Images]
We’ve just passed Memorial Day weekend. Some states have started reopening, while others are beginning to focus on gradually easing up on restrictions. Before you know it, we’ll be close to some getting back to business.
With a ray of hope on the horizon, here are four things you can do right now to plant the seeds for future success.
1. You need to get yourself into the right mindset.
This job market is and will continue to be different than others in the past. The simple act of asking someone to grab a cup of coffee or some lunch, which we’ve always taken for granted, is not even possible in certain cities.
Companies, understandably leery of what’s going to happen next, will naturally err on the side of caution and hold off on hiring or enact hiring freezes, as it’s the path of least resistance. They’ll maintain that it’s more prudent to take a wait-and-see approach before attempting to bring aboard someone new. Management will consider the likelihood of future layoffs and deem it inappropriate and unfair to both the company and job seeker. They wouldn’t want to be put in the position of hiring a person today only to let them go in a few months—if things don’t turn around for the better.
With this in mind, it’s easy to get discouraged. You have to change the way you view your search. Instead of interpreting it as a sprint, think of your job search as a marathon. It may take many months or longer to find a new job. Tune out the well-intentioned advice of friends and family who share their own antiquated, job-search anecdotes that took place pre-Covid-19, as they won’t be relevant to today’s environment.
Think of everything you do now as planting the seeds for the future. Don’t worry if you aren’t receiving feedback. The people at the company you’re applying to have no clue of what’s going on and what direction their company will head into next. The harsh truth is that they are worried about their own jobs and future.
Continue doing everything you need to, such as submitting résumés to jobs that you desire, networking, interacting on LinkedIn, making tailored versions of your résumé specifically for each job and other measures. While doing this, understand that you may not hear anything back. That’s okay, as the goal is to do everything you can to get noticed. So, when things improve, you’ve been in front of a large number of people and then you’ll gain momentum.
2. Write down a list of the five or more companies that you’d like to work with.
Then, look on LinkedIn to find out who are the hiring managers and human resources professionals responsible for these desired positions. You can also conduct Google searches too.
Once you find that right person who looks like they are a decision maker, send them a bespoke invitation. Let them know that you’re very interested in working at the company and would appreciate the chance to have a conversation. It might make sense to buy a premium LinkedIn account; you can send Inmails, which affords the opportunity to write a longer, more in-depth message.
Once you’re connected, like and comment on the person’s posts. Start writing original content yourself. By offering smart commentary relative to your field, you will come across as a thought leader and a person who takes their job seriously. You’ll draw positive attention from the people you’re connected with. They’ll remember and think of you when an appropriate job opens up.
3. Start connecting with former co-workers or current colleagues (if you’re still employed), managers, college alumni, business associates and anyone else you can think of who may be able to help with your job search and career development.
This takes a little chutzpah. Reach out to the people you have connected with and invite them for a virtual cup of coffee via a Zoom video or traditional phone call. Since most people are bored out of their minds from being home over the last two months or so, they’re likely to say “yes,” as they are looking for something to break up the monotony.
This will be a numbers game. If you contact 10 people, maybe two or three will say “yes.” There’s no need to get discouraged about the ones who say, “Thanks, but I can’t.” People are wrestling with serious issues during the pandemic. They may want to help, but have enough on their plate already. Keep contacting folks, as there will always be people who are happy to help.
On the call, keep it positive and light. Invariably, the conversation will veer toward what you’re up to. Tell them the truth that you’ve lost your job or are worried about your role or whatever the circumstances may be. Most people will then offer some assistance. They’ll probe as to what you do next and think of some people for you to connect with.
If you do this with a large number of people, it becomes a numbers game. The greater amount of people you contact, the more you increase the odds of positive responses. This tactic will help expand your network.
4. Just sending résumés and applications won’t work by itself.
Continue searching for relevant jobs and submitting résumés. However, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. As 40 million people are out of work, there will be intense competition. You’ll just be another résumé, unfortunately.
The trick is to find two or three people who work at the company. They could be someone you know or are sort of acquainted with. Feel free to find someone who knows someone who knows someone and leverage that contact.
Ask the person to put in a good word for you with the hiring manager. This way you immediately become a known, recommended human being and not just another name on a résumé. If you can find a second or third person, that’s awesome. Imagine how impressed a hiring manager or human resources professional would be when they learn that two or three internal employees highly recommend you for a role.
It’s easy to find yourself frustrated, anxious and worried. We’re all going through these feelings. The challenge is to push back on the negativity. If you wear your emotions on your sleeve, the interviewers will notice and be turned off to your downcast demeanor. You must find ways to work on your presentation to recalibrate yourself, so that you feel positive, upbeat and motivated. If you can’t do this, then try channeling your inner-actor abilities and play the part of the motivated, excited, successful person that they want to hire.
Just hang in there. You will get through this. It may take time, but you will find that great, new job.
By Jack Kelly