Many people in Australia (and around the globe) have experienced the loss of their job or a reduction in their income as a result of the impact of COVID-19. The effects have been so severe that Australia has experienced its first recession since the 90s. The three biggest challenges facing job hunters in the current economic climate are increased competition due to the number of unemployed people looking for work, the job search taking longer, and under these conditions, there is less leverage to negotiate for benefits and pay rates. At Credit Counsellors, we understand that on average, unemployment or loss of income accounts for 28% of the reason why people find themselves in a state of insolvency(1). Here’s our guide on how to get a job in the COVID economy.
Job Hunting in a Crowded Market!
Research conducted by Seek.com found that three-quarters of people believe that competition for jobs is higher now than compared to the beginning of the pandemic(2). In such a cutthroat job market, it is necessary to go over and above in order to stand out to potential employers! Here are some recommendations to help you get the attention of hiring managers:
- Tailor Your Job Application to the Role and Company
When the market is flooded with candidates, indeed competition is tougher and employers will have an excess of applications to review. When a cover letter is littered with generic terms and phrases – or even worse – when a resume is submitted without a cover letter, it is obvious that that “job beggar” is desperately using the same application to apply for multiple jobs. If you’re wondering how to get a job in the COVID economy, it’s actually really simple - you just need to make the process of wading through resumes easier for your hiring manager, by grabbing their attention with a thoughtful and well-written cover letter that addresses how and why your skills and personality are the perfect fit for the company and the position you’re applying for.
- Spruce Up Your Resume
Your resume is a representation of you – take the time to make sure it presents professionally and stands out! Just as you should tailor your cover letter, take the time to make sure to match your prior role responsibilities with those of your new position. Emphasizing your achievements will also help hirers match your strengths to those of the role. In addition to ensuring the content is properly formatted with clear headings and adequate space, select a stylish-yet-professional design to help make your resume POP in comparison to the others (Canva is a great free tool you can use, with lots of templates to choose from). Importantly, make sure your online presence is as clean as your resume – you might look great on paper, but your hiring manager might not be as impressed as you were stumbling across a random meme that you shared in 2014 (and trust us, they will find it).
- Your Network is Your Net Worth
We’ve all heard the saying “it’s who you know, not what you know” – and yes, whilst legally employers must be fair in their hiring practices – the “word-of-mouth” endorsement that comes from existing professional relationships and personal connections, pays huge dividends in the business world. Number one – get your LinkedIn up to scratch if you haven’t already done so. Reach out to your contacts for a recommendation, and get in touch to see if anybody you know works for companies that are currently hiring. In the face of uncertainty, a referral from a colleague could be all it takes to score an interview at the very least!
- Add a Personal Touch
Make your own job opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic! Even if you don’t know anybody who works at the company you’re applying for, nothing stands out more than having the courage to actually walk in the door, introduce yourself and personally hand your resume to the hiring manager. Of course, this strategy is dependent upon COVID restrictions (in which case it might be best to call ahead and book in a time) – but regardless, if you make the effort to build a personal connection, this will make you stand out a whole lot more than somebody who only applies online.
Wondering how to find a job during COVID-19? Well, you’re not the only one. 80% of people think that it will take longer to find a job now compared to before COVID hit(2)!
- Stay Positive!
Whilst this is easier said than done - it’s important to stay positive throughout the duration of your job search! Long days of scouring through job ads, tweaking your cover letter and resume, submitting application after application and not hearing back from employers can take a toll on even the most resilient person’s morale, so be sure to balance your relentless search with plenty of healthy food, exercise, sleep and socialisation with positive people! The longer you’re out of the workforce, the harder it can be to regain a sense of normalcy, and that’s why during such stressful times, it’s imperative to do things that make you feel good, recharge your batteries and keep you motivated!
- Don’t Take Rejection Personally!
Recruiters are likely to be swamped with a high volume of applications at the moment – so even if you are the most qualified candidate for the job – don’t take it personally if you don’t receive a response straight away! Instead of becoming disheartened, consider it an opportunity to demonstrate that you are proactive! If you haven’t heard anything after a week, pick up the phone and call them! Politely introduce yourself, state that you recently applied, and are wondering if a decision has been made because you think your skill set would be great for the role. Offer that if they need any more information they are welcome to contact you. If you aren’t able to get past the gatekeeper, the next bet is to reach out via email and address it to the person handling the applications.
- Surround Yourself With Supporters!
Having a team of good people around you is one of the best ways to maintain your motivation and positivity! Ask your friends and family to hold you accountable and boost you up when you start to get down on yourself, lose track and question your confidence and abilities. There are also lots of amazing career experts on YouTube who create motivational videos that address many of the specific concerns you may be facing as a jobseeker and can help you overcome those moments of self-doubt!
Negotiating Without Leverage
Three-quarters of people believe that in a competitive post-COVID job market, it is harder to negotiate benefits such as perks and pay. If you find yourself in this boat, consider the following:
- Remember Your Values
In a sluggish economy, job seekers aren’t the only ones feeling the pinch – businesses are struggling too, and are more likely to offer lower salaries when under financial strain. If you aren’t sure about applying for a job or accept an offer based on the salary, ask yourself whether higher income or job security is more important? Are you happy to accept a pay cut if it means you will get a job sooner, or do you have the luxury of waiting for a position that satisfies your criteria? Knowing when and where to compromise is key to making the best of uncertain circumstances.
- Benefits Other Than Money
If the salary you want isn’t on offer, remember the value you bring and consider how you can negotiate other benefits to compensate. You have the most leverage before you accept a job offer, so see if your future employer is negotiable to flexible schedules or working arrangements, leave benefits such as extra annual leave or RDO’s, paid career development/training support opportunities and perks such as parking or health and wellness programs.
Take One Step At a Time
Instead of setting an arbitrary date by which you would like to get a job, break down your job hunt into manageable, bite-sized chunks. For example, start by updating your resume on day one. On day two, scour the internet for job opportunities and tailor your cover letter and resume for each position. On day three, go to Officeworks to print your documents on glossy paper and present them in a nice folder. Then dress up professionally and spend a day personally handing out your tailored resumes to potential new workplaces! Each day schedule is a positive activity to maintain your motivation as you go through the motions.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed or discouraged during your job search, remember that you’re not the only one who is feeling the pressure in this tricky environment. By acknowledging the challenges that may lay ahead, at the very least you are one step better prepared to leap over the hurdles and on track to starting what could be an amazing new career!
As we said in the beginning – loss of employment or income is the leading factor behind personal insolvency, and more often than not – it’s nobody’s fault – what happens in the economy is beyond our control, but what matters is that we are prepared to pick ourselves up and make the most of whatever circumstances we are dealt. If you are struggling to get on top of bad debts, for whatever reason, our team of debt experts will be able to help assess your financial situation and guide you in the right direction to get back on track. Call us at your convenience on 1300 003 328 for a confidential, obligation-free debt assessment to figure out your options.