How to Navigate the Job Search During COVID-19 Times

Insights from our recent virtual event included resume and networking tips from people who lost or left jobs during the pandemic, then used these helpful tactics to find new ones.

By Deanna Tomaselli
Young Professionals Co-Chair

Searching for a new job is no easy task, let alone during global pandemic. But hiring is happening. And people right here in Pittsburgh are landing new jobs, or even shifting their career paths. We spoke to a few of them at the recent virtual PRSA Pittsburgh panel, “Navigating the Job Search During COVID-19 Times.” Here are their top takeaways.

The panelists:

Alex’s Insights: Be patient

Alex brought a helpful HR perspective to the mix. She stressed that right now, things may take a bit longer and start dates are getting pushed back, so job-seekers should stay patient. In regard to the tricky subject of salary negation for new professionals, Alex says to do your research. While numbers may be inflated on job searching sites, understand the incomes of someone in your area at your level. You can most definitely negotiate! Even if it’s not for something like salary, don’t discount negotiating for something like commuter benefits or more vacation days. And if you want more, have a reason – and data points – to back it up.

Marina’s Insights: Stand out from the crowd

Marina has been through a roller coaster over the last few months. She, unfortunately, lost her job in March due to the pandemic. But, she immediately reached out to her mentor and got to work. She treated job searching as its own full-time job, spending lots of time researching companies in Pittsburgh, and carefully targeting each cover letter to the position she was applying for. Her mentor also suggested she make her resume as succinct and to the point as possible – and all on one page. She also added some of her personality by adding “Professional Walker of Cats” in the description of herself! Needless to say, it caught the attention of her soon-to-be employer. Here’s how she transformed her resume and landed her next dream job: Tapping into her network (and expanding it) while being honest and true to herself helped.

More on resumes

Our HR guru Alex also added that quantifying your accomplishments are very key when it comes to resumes. She also suggested looking at the description of the job you are applying for, then using those keywords in your own resume. Also, apply as early as possible! Set up alerts on LinkedIn, Indeed, and other job-hunting platforms, so that when a job pops up, you get notified right away. Be detailed and show examples of your work and how they apply to the job. And if you are just starting out or changing careers, be creative and show how that applies. For example, if you only have waitressing experience, that’s client service, right?

Chris’ Insights: Make yourself a thought leader

Throughout the panel, LinkedIn stood out as an essential platform for virtual networking and job searching. Everyone agreed that having a solid profile of work history, a description of yourself and your skills, plus a nice cover photo and headshot work well. And that sliding into DMs of recruiters and contacts can help jumpstart conversations. But Chris also said to take it a step further by posting about the companies you want to work for (or the people you want to work with). A super fan of Stitch Fix, Chris often tags them in posts highlighting recent news or thoughts he has on the brand. And a recent post he wrote on Giant Eagle garnered him 12,000 views after just one post! More engagement means more visibility. Think of LinkedIn like an ongoing cover letter to the world.

Jannah’s Insights: Get comfortable being uncomfortable

Speaking of Giant Eagle, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard about them week after week since March, as the grocery industry has been completely flipped on its head. Her company had to rethink how they did pretty much everything – from conducting media interviews on Zoom, constant communication to the workforce, pivoting how people shop and more. This “forced innovation” as Jannah called it has allowed them to tap into the expertise of their employees, and the ones who are acting quickly and efficiently are standing out from the crowd. Something job seekers can do, too. Showing you are proactive and a team player can go a long way.

Emma’s Insights: Tap into your creative intuition

Emma has been in the education field for a few years, and always thought she was going to become a teacher. But once she launched a side hustle selling soap, she ended up falling in love with marketing the product. Creating content and imagery was so much more appealing to her, so she decided to go back to school for marketing. She made some quick tweaks to her resume – including adding a description at the top talking about her career change, and putting in some real writing examples from past blog posts she’s done – and ended up landing a virtual internship this summer. Emma took her passion, and made it happen.

Job searching and day-to-day business operations are forever changed due to COVID-19. But this pandemic has opened up more opportunities where virtual connections are happening, and people are landing more virtual work than ever before.

Continue the discussion in our Young Professionals Facebook Group.

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