Four Job Search Strategies During A Pandemic

“I’m thinking a lot about my work and what’s next.”

It’s coming up to the new year and a time to re-assess so much about our work. For so many who are are planning a job transition, the current search for meaning and greater purpose is a new wrinkle in an already tough situation. A health crisis, a racial inequity crisis and an economic crisis have stopped most of us, employed or looking to be, long enough to reflect on what we are doing with our lives. With so many abruptly ordered to stay home to work, and the pandemic and discriminatory policing ending lives, plenty of people are scrutinizing their working lives for purpose and greater alignment and are choosing to move on from where they are.

My clients who are in job transition have raised interesting concerns. Here are four of them, along with complementary strategies for what to keep in mind if you are in a job search or expect you may be in the future.

Strategy #1: Push through to share with others that you are in transition.

“A colleague just got a new role as a CEO, and I want to hold off changing my work status because I’m concerned that when I reach out to congratulate her that it will look like I’m just doing it to nudge for a job.”

The sooner you share with your network that you are in search mode, the sooner others can help. It sounds commonsensical enough, but holding back is common, especially, in my experience, among women who aren’t always comfortable leveraging relationships when they need to. Their hesitation is that they will appear needy and others will feel used by their manipulation.

Conducting a job search without the support of your network won’t be nearly as successful, and unless you are lucky, it will be a long journey until you land. There is no shame in taking initiative and communicating you are looking for work. Most of us have experienced job transition and are eager to help. And those who know your work are motivated to see you continue to contribute. If ever there’s a time to not hold back the reality of your situation, it’s during a job search.

Strategy #2: Stay current.

“How do I find out what’s going on in an industry that I’ve targeted during Covid-19? They are all in deep change. How do I get current?”

Social distancing has removed the opportunities to learn about industries at in-person conferences that so many depended on. Conferences have now migrated online, making them easier to access and at a lower cost. But it’s important to not just limit your learning to mass venues. In some ways, this tumultuous time is an opportune one to learn what is going on in every field and industry because everywhere there is so much flux in the marketplace.

And don’t give up on an industry because of what you are hearing from news reports. It’s true that many are having a tough time returning to full productivity and profits post-Covid-19. Your job is to consider your skills and assess how you can help with change management or a strategic pivot. Some employers are hiring far less, but many are hiring what they absolutely need.

Strategy #3: Get out in front of the internet.

“I do a lot of Zoom and I listen to a lot of webinars. I haven’t been asked to any interviews yet.”

Be careful not to spend too many hours on the internet. Naturally, it’s easy to do and believe you are job hunting productively. It’s relationship-building, though, that will make the biggest difference in landing work.

In addition to attending webinars and listening to expert panels, offer to lead or host your own webinar. Consider corralling your colleagues and host a panel to gain exposure and show what you know. The point is to be visible and be seen as an expert. Get out in front.

Strategy #4: Help them see you as a fit in the role.

“I know what I want, but I’m not sure I can persuade them that I’m a good fit.”

This is what I heard from a client of mine at the start of his career transition. After leaving an exceptionally demanding senior leadership role that started as meaningful and highly rewarding work, changes came in that degenerated the role, and he found that he was at odds with what was being asked of him. My client spent time talking through what he wanted next with his family and then with me as his coach. Still interested in a senior role, his review of his personal values led him to seek work in a smaller city where he and the family could root themselves and be closer to nature. The job, too, would need to be smaller but still complex and with the potential to make a big impact. He was clear what he was after; nevertheless, the members of the interview panel for the first job interview felt he was overqualified. Challenged to help the next job panel share his vision that he was right for the role, we worked together to clarify his story and the articulation of his values to clearly show how they were aligned with the role. Spending time on your story and your values is a necessary strategy for anyone seeking new work, not just for those others deem overqualified.

A version of this article was ublished on Forbes.com. Thank you to Aaron Burden for the image.

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