It’s impossible to predict what the job market will have in store over the next few months. Even as economic data continues to trend downward, it is hard to guess in what ways hiring demand for the rest of the year will be shaped by widespread reopening of the economy and the requirement to put in place new public health measures.
If you need or have a strong desire to get a new job, you’ll want to start getting ready for a multitude of scenarios. While the job market is slow at the moment, it could ramp up faster than you expect or in industries you aren’t yet targeting.
It’s fair to prepare yourself for a longer job search than you would have experienced this time last year, but don’t give up on your efforts. Before you launch or continue your job search, here’s what you need to know to help you face this month’s unique challenges and find new opportunities.
1. You’ll benefit if you stay on top of hiring trends
No matter how bleak hiring data may appear at the moment, many companies will still have new, interesting and unexpected jobs that need to be filled this year.
Right now, companies are still trying to figure out how they will operate in this new environment once social distancing guidelines lessen or are removed. What they can’t foresee is how much customer demand they will have, how consumer behavior and personal values may have permanently changed and what they will need to do to make their business more resilient in the future. All of these factors will create significant changes to their corporate strategy, exposing leadership gaps and creating new talent needs.
As hard as it is to imagine right now, the business world will get back to operating at full capacity but likely in a very different form. Some companies will experience a long-lasting or permanent shrinking of their business while others will find ways to quickly innovate and expand. This process of resetting the corporate landscape will take some time and it hasn’t fully begun yet. Many leaders are still trying to deal with their most immediate problems which are largely centered around managing their cash flow.
You’ll have a head start and huge competitive advantage if you pay close attention to the news over the next few months and prepare to target the new and unexpected jobs that will soon be needed. If you don’t make it a regular habit to follow sites that focus on business-related content or watch business-only news channels such as CNBC, this is the time that you need to start. Consider this research a major part of your job-searching tasks.
Admittedly, there is no guarantee that you will be qualified for the jobs that emerge or that they will be in the right geographic location for you. But you can’t even begin to assess the fit, work to match your skills to the new needs or consider remote working options if you aren’t even aware that these new jobs exist.
Start this month by building the habit of monitoring the business world more closely than you normally would and be on the lookout for emerging hiring trends.
2. Your networking will be more effective when it’s done slowly
Unfortunately, there are few new ideas on how to best conduct a job search. You’ve likely heard it again and again, but networking is still the most efficient use of a job seeker’s time.
This month, work to reactivate and strengthen your network through personal outreach and check-ins. While you should focus on networking daily, resist the urge to mass email your résumé or have transactional discussions. Difficult times and prolonged social distancing have left many people craving a sense of community, which creates the perfect environment for genuine networking.
Instead of jumping right to your desire to be on the radar for job leads or blasting out copy and pasted emails about your background, try a slower and more methodical approach. Invest time in writing better emails and catching up without a specific ask at the end of your message. These tactics are much more effective in the long run. When the market warms up again, these efforts will have been beneficial in deepening your connections, so that the more direct inquiries you send later will be better received.
The key to developing a stronger relationship is to focus first on the connection with the individual and not on your job search. Be sure to remind people that you care about them beyond your professional needs. This will help them care enough to keep you top of mind when new opportunities inevitably start developing.
3. Once started, your hiring process may move faster than usual
In a booming job market, one of the hardest things about conducting a search is never knowing when a job lead is worth your effort. Many of the jobs you’d see online were outdated or low priorities for the recruiters and hiring managers. Other openings were for jobs that the company hadn’t thought through very well and weren’t sure what they actually wanted or needed in the position. Even in a hot market, it was a frustrating experience to find motivated hiring managers, and job processes often went on longer than necessary.
If there’s any good news about conducting a job search during hard economic times, it’s that almost every job lead you see or hear about is indeed a well-formed position and a priority at the company. If it wasn’t, it would not be open right now.
Jobs that open in the next few months will be created out of necessity—something urgent needs to be built or fixed in the business or someone important resigned—and need to be filled as soon as possible. This can work in your favor if you stay diligent about monitoring job openings throughout the otherwise slow month ahead and are ready to engage your network to find a contact for these searches immediately.
Keep in mind that these jobs will be filled quickly and competition will be fierce. Due to the large number of applicants that are recently unemployed, it will be harder than ever to simply get noticed without a personal contact. This is yet another reason why networking should be your top priority all month long.
Overall, it takes dedication to keep looking for jobs in a difficult market. You have to be emotionally prepared for the unavoidable ups and downs this month might hold. Set aside daily time for your job search, but don’t expect it to fill up forty hours a week. There simply may not be enough activity to work on and it will only burn you out if you force yourself to push past the point of productivity. When you’re not looking for jobs this month, use your time for other personal activities that may boost your spirits so you can continue your job search while trying your best to guard and bolster your well-being.