The real challenge is creating a polished, professional resume that is “skimmable” and makes it easy for recruiters and hiring managers to find what they need in under 8 seconds to land an interview.
The number one question clients are asking right now is: “Should I put effort into searching for a new job or just focus on keeping my current position?”
Believe it or not, even though unemployment numbers so far have hit record numbers during this pandemic, companies are still hiring. In fact, some companies are actually experiencing hiring surges (you may see “hiring surge” under select job titles when browsing job boards).
Before the pandemic, the average time to find a job was 4 to 5 months. It’s pretty safe to assume that it may take longer considering the many changes that are affecting the job market during the pandemic.
I recommend being prepared and ready to jump on career opportunities in advance. I can’t tell you how many times a client has asked me to rush his/her resume to meet a closing deadline. These are unprecedented times and opportunities can pop up unexpectedly. Many companies are still up in the air on hiring and/or hiring freezes, layoffs, furloughs, etc. If you’re prepared to act ahead of time, you won’t risk missing out.
What can you do RIGHT NOW to prepare?
Update Your Resume
Don’t wait until the last minute to make sure that your resume includes the most current information, including the most recent job; any recently earned degrees, certifications, and licenses; and contact information.
Make sure that the focus of your resume accurately positions you for your profession or industry by including relevant, results-driven skills, contributions, and accomplishments; and seeding the resume and cover letter with industry skills and keywords to increase your resume’s odds of passing keyword screens.
Update Your LinkedIn
Or get on LinkedIn if you’re not there already. As with updating your resume, make sure your job experience, education, professional affiliations, licensure and certifications, skills, etc. are accurate and up-to-date.
Also, take close look at your headline. It may be a small section of your profile, but don’t underestimate its importance. The headline the first thing people see (along with your photo) in both LinkedIn and Google search results. Strangers take in your photo and headline and “size you up” in seconds, so your headline MUST hit the mark immediately and leave an impressive first impression.
Lastly, don’t leave the summary section blank. If LinkedIn was your personal website, the summary section would be the “about” page. Visitors to your profile land there to learn more about who you are and what you can do, so give them what they came for!
Prepare Your Responses to Commonly Asked Interview Questions
If you’ve ever been through a job interview, you probably have an idea of the type of questions to expect. I advise my clients to prepare and rehearse responses prior to the interview – especially if you have a challenging situation that might trip you up (Example: “Why are you leaving your current job?”
“Why do you want to work here?” “Why is there a 15-month employment gap on your resume?” “What would you say is you biggest weakness?” etc.).
Polish Up Your Elevator Speech
Having an elevator speech ready to go is useful in so many situations. It can be incorporated into the opening summary at the beginning of your resume; you can use it during online and in-person networking scenarios; and you can use it in job interviews. Your elevator speech is a powerful introductory statement that clearly communicates to others who you are and what you can offer.
A strong elevator pitch should be no longer than 20-30 seconds and should include the following:
- A “bite-sized” overview of your work history
- Total number of years of experience
- Notable education and/or professional credentials (if relevant)
- An overview of your skills and achievements
- Your value proposition – that is, your value and the measurable results you consistently deliver
- Your job focus (for networking situations)
- The companies that you are targeting (mostly for networking situations)
Now obviously you won’t be able to pack all of the above information into a smoothly delivered elevator speech; but it is the foundation that allows you to customize your pitch to your audience going forward. Practice your speech with a trusted family member or friend; or record yourself so you can hear exactly how you sound. Work on it until your delivery is polished and natural.
Spend Time Learning New Skills
Set aside time to learn new skills that will increase your marketability in the workforce. This is especially important if you’re planning to ascend into a leadership role in your field; or change careers/industries completely.
Remote learning makes it easier to obtain a PMP certification; complete a comprehensive executive leadership program; or embark on salesforce certification training to learn the ins and outs of CMS. These days you can take advantage of free and low-cost skills training online to further your career through courses provided via Coursera, Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, HubSpot and more.
Get Comfortable with Online Networking
It’s important to build and maintain a professional network throughout your career so you can reach out and connect with those contacts when you need them most. Networking is still the #1 method of securing a new job so you can see why being well-networked is so important.
Professionals that routinely attended industry tradeshows and conferences during Pre-Covid times will be challenged with prioritizing remote connections for now. Tap into LinkedIn and other social networking sites to grow your list of professional connections and network your way into a new job and new organization.
Create a Job Search Action Plan You Can Stick With
Searching for a job can be stressful under “normal” conditions. The uncertainty of the pandemic can challenge your focus and spike feelings of anxiety and desperation. Having an action plan with weekly goals and measurable steps can help you maintain the consistency and focus necessary to achieve your job search goal.
Every plan that I create with my job search coaching clients is different, but you can create a simple plan for yourself by including these actionable steps:
- Identify 1-3 top job focuses
- Identify 3 job boards in your field/industry
- List 10 target companies (remote positions and jobs within a 30-mile radius of your home)
- Identify and connect with at least 2 contacts on LinkedIn for EACH target company
- Identify contact phone numbers/emails of at least 10 hiring managers at your target companies
Time management and consistency is important in any job search. If you’re already working, your time will be limited. In that case, commit to spending at least 1-2 hours a day searching. If you’re unemployed, you can afford to spend 15-20 hours per week searching.
Monitor your progress by creating an Excel spreadsheet or MS Word doc to track when/where you apply, contact info, company websites, job boards, etc.
We’ve experienced economic challenges before. Stay focused on your job search goal, continue building your professional network, and work your job search action plan consistently.
Now be honest… is the resume and cover letter you’ve been submitting for jobs getting you noticed? Are you receiving invitations to interview? If not, we should talk! Contact me by phone: 1-866-562-0850 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org for a NO COST, NO OBLIGATION 15-minute consultation.
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