Don’t Overlook This #1 Factor When Job Hunting During Covid-19
As businesses remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, nearly 33 million Americans have filed for unemployment. With an economic recovery that is predicted to take months if not years, the job market will only continue to get more competitive.
The simple truth is that most job seekers won’t get hired right away, which is why it’s important to know which industries are hiring and be diligent in submitting applications. But that’s not the only thing you should be doing.
The biggest mistake people making when job hunting, especially during times of desperation, is limiting their strategy to only sending out as many resumes as possible — and not taking a few minutes out of their day to focus on networking.
Don’t overlook the power of networking
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 70% of jobs are found through networking. So, if you want to boost your chances of getting hired, you need to put yourself on the radar of those who can really help you land an interview.
The pandemic certainly makes the job of finding a job even more stressful. But the good news is that if there was ever a perfect time to network, this is it.
The work-from-home experience has created a captive audience for networking. People aren’t traveling for business or going to conferences. Instead, many are staying put and working from home, meaning they’re likely to be available and pay attention when you reach out (via a simple email or call).
The wrong way to network
Networking poorly is worse than not networking at all. For example, reaching out to someone you haven’t had any contact with for years and blatantly asking for help is a huge turnoff.
Reaching out to someone you have not kept in contact with and asking them directly to help you secure a job is not the process to follow. If you have not had meaningful contact, and attempt to connect ‘out-of-the-blue’ with someone from your past, with a job ask or referral request, your contact will be uncomfortable in “backing” you having little to no understanding of what has transpired in your career.
Lead with your ‘give’ before you seek to ‘get’
Right now, think of a person in your network who could help with your job search. Who can make an introduction or connect you with someone at a company you’d like to work at? Who can help you brainstorm or provide you with perspective from their own career journey?
Then, write down a list of things you can do for them. Even if it’s a minor gesture, it can still jump-start your networking — as long as the act is genuinely meaningful to them.
What information or assistance can you offer? Maybe you heard they need help with a project or initiative. Look at their Twitter, Facebook, blog, or website. Are they or their company supporting charitable causes (i.e., making face masks for frontline workers, donating food to homeless shelters) that you can help with?
In these turbulent times, offering an extra set of hands is a great way to lead with your “give” and develop a reputation for going the extra mile. Also, never underestimate the power of simply being a sounding board for someone going through a tough time — or having a laugh with them to help ease their worries.
The unexpected fruits of networking
If you think networking has to be structured, think again. Take a look at the following story – A man lost his job due to a corporate merger, and the timing coincided with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In addition to spending much of his time looking for jobs, he set aside an hour or two per week to hand out blankets and bottled water. He even acted as part of a human chain to bring people out of flooded homes.
He worked side by side with another volunteer, but they didn’t talk about themselves at first. When the other volunteer asked, he shared his story briefly. (Remember, the cardinal rule of networking and job searching is to always tell the truth. And there’s no shame in being laid off. It happens to good, hard-working people when companies downsize, like right now.)
“My company is looking to hire someone with your background,” the volunteer said. “I don’t need a resume to see who you are. I’ve already seen it.” Three weeks later, he had a new job.
Make sure your job search is running on all cylinders and utilize every strategy you can to express what you bring to the table to describe what you are looking for. Don’t just leave your fate to letting your resume speak for you. Reach out and make human contact. You never know who someone knows or what their network looks like.