Navigating your Job Search in Challenging Times
Well done to everyone for finishing out the semester and adapting to the changes that we all faced. We wish to especially recognize our recent graduates and their success!
Your contributions and presence on campus will be missed. We desire the best for each of you going forward in your respective careers, and hope you will carry with you the many positive experiences and friendships you’ve gained over the years.
As we study, we are hopefully preparing and training for future work in a fulfilling career. We focus a lot on classes and the educational track we’re on, but sometimes the “track” towards finding the right job and landing that job is not as clearly defined and tricky to follow. In all honesty it can be hard to navigate, and we might not even know where to start.
It can be even more difficult during times like these when the United States has seen a record-breaking number of unemployment filings and job loss around the country. According to a recent CNN report, in just a matter of 4 weeks 22 million Americans filed for unemployment. To put that into a little bit of perspective, that’s roughly 13.5% of the labor force.
So—what’s the silver lining on all of this? There are still companies out there hiring! And although things are bad right now, the future outlook and probability that the job market and national economy rebounds is very high.
I hope to share my thoughts, offer a few tips, and provide a few resources to make finding employment an encouraging and enjoyable experience rather than something that can often be overwhelming. It’s necessary to realize that unemployment happens, and oftentimes to no fault of our own. Companies need to make tough decisions, and unexpected circumstances arise (e.g. coronavirus pandemic) that limit the number of available jobs out there. And sometimes you might just realize that you aren’t as happy as you’d like to be in your current job, and want to pursue something different!
Either way, whether you have a job you love or are currently searching for one, these tips will be helpful to know and to review.
Where do we start then? Well, understanding why it’s important is the first step, and then understanding how to frame the job search experience is the next.
Let me illustrate by painting a picture of two people. For the purpose of this article, consider job seeker 1 as Cathy, and job seeker 2 as Kate.
Kate and Cathy have both recently graduated college and are searching for jobs. Despite doing the best they can to save and work part-time while in school, they’ve each slowly been running out of money. Cathy knows she needs to find a job, and reminds herself often that if she doesn’t then she’ll no longer be able to afford rent and will have to move back home with her parents. In her mind she’s constantly worried about what her friends will think of her if this happens, and she doesn’t want to reach out to any of them for help because fear of embarrassment. Although Kate is in a very similar situation, her attitude and approach to her search is very different.
Rather than focusing on the consequences and pressure if she doesn’t find a job, Kate chooses to be excited about the opportunity to explore her interests, learn new skills, and showcase her abilities… oh, and did I mention earn a living at the same time!? She knows she’s not the only person out there looking for a job, and that there are a lot of people in her circles that would be willing to help her when she asks. She decides to focus on what she can control (e.g. number of applications she submits) rather than focusing on what she cannot control (e.g. number of offers she receives).
Framing your mindset during your job search to think of things in terms of opportunities and rewards, away from self-doubts and fears can go a long way. I like to think of the job search experience as a fun and exciting ride I get to go on, rather than a scorching hot desert I have to wander through alone. The better parallel might even be a mountain climb that does take some effort and a map to get to the top, but one you know you’ll be awarded by your efforts with a beautiful view upon reaching the summit.
So, as a review—what type of job search mindset do you want to have?
Positive job search mindset
Negative job search mindset
When we embrace a positive job search mindset, the odds of succeeding grows tremendously. But all of us will still face doubt, disappointment, and discouragement.
How do we meet those disappointments, and eventually overcome the doubt?
Well— I’ll let you in on a little secret that might surprise you. That is, the #1 reason people don’t get hired for a job. (And nope, it’s not because the formatting of their resume was off, or because their cover letter needed a few changes.)
It’s actually because they don’t end up applying for it!
You’ve probably heard the phrase that goes, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”, but this principle is so true when it comes to seeking employment. Even if you don’t feel like you’re the “perfect” candidate, or even if you feel “underqualified”—if it’s a position that interests you, go for it! You may even come to find that those positions you feel underqualified for is where you’ll learn and grow the most.
A couple of questions and answers:
Q: Should I apply for multiple jobs at a time?
A: The simple answer is, “yes”. But there’s a trick to it. Don’t overburden yourself by applying to every single job listing that exists. There’s a balance to quality over quantity, and you want to make sure that you’re applying to the jobs you’re serious about. That way you are more likely to be willing to put in the extra effort to produce an exceptional application.
Tips from balancecareers.com say,
“The most likely outcome is that you'll get a lot of rejections before you land a job. Instead of getting discouraged, learn from your mistakes and keep applying until you get the right offer. Waiting to hear the results from your application or interviews will only extend the length of time your job search takes. Worst-case scenario, you’ll be juggling multiple job offers. That’s a good thing.”
Q: How should I leverage my resume and LinkedIn profile to improve my chances of getting a job?
A: This is a good question, but it’s important to note that your resume and your LinkedIn profile are mostly meant to get you in the door and help you land an initial interview. It’s not your resume or your LinkedIn that will get you the job, rather how you present yourself and how you highlight what you can bring to the position at the company or organization for which you are applying.
Tips from the muse.com points out,
“Your resume (and LinkedIn Profile) is not a tattoo. Yes, your new resume is lovely. Your LinkedIn profile, breathtaking. However, if they don’t position you as a direct match for a particular role that you’re gunning for, don’t be afraid to modify wording, switch around key terms, and swap bullet points in and out. Treat them as living, breathing documents throughout your job search (and career).”
If you want to improve your LinkedIn profile: Check this out!
Q: What are some helpful things to know about interviewing?
A: I will answer this with a short list of succinct bullet points that I have been made aware of, but I can’t stress one thing enough… practice, practice, practice. Might sound weird? Yes. Will it feel even stranger doing it? Probably. But is it worth it? Absolutely.
Practice or “mock” interviews can take many forms, but becoming familiar with potential questions and getting in the repetition is key. You can practice on your own, with a friend or family member, a career coach, and best yet identifying someone in the role you are applying for and sitting down with them to discuss the details of the job and practicing a few questions with them.
Other tips include,
- Be yourself; I list this first because although practice is important—you don’t want to have rehearsed answers, fake smiles, or try to give answers that you think your interviewer wants to hear.
- Share a thank-you; following an interview it’s always appropriate to send a thank-you note. Don’t overcomplicate it, and don’t ask for the job, but express sincere appreciation. It will help you stand out, and will be appreciated on their end.
- Don’t say anything bad about previous employers; this is one of the most common interview mistakes, and can sometimes be hard to avoid especially when there may have been plenty of bad things about your previous employer. Instead, focus on expressing the things you learned from hard experiences, what you overcame, how you developed, and especially why you provide value to the position they’re seeking to fill.
- Be on PAR; No, this doesn’t mean to bring your golf clubs, nor does it mean to be on-time and look your best (those should be a given). This is an acronym and a good rule of thumb to follow when answering interview questions.
A mentor of mine shared this advice with me years ago and I can attest to its effectiveness. He said,
“Describe the problem, the action you took and the result. All your answers should be less than 1.5 minutes. If it’s getting longer than that, then you haven’t practiced enough. Most my answers are less than 1 minute.”
Going back to my first point of practice, if you don’t know what to practice—here’s something for ya! It helps you stay focused on what’s important, keeps yourself from rambling on, and highlights what you’re capable of and how you’ve made an impact at where you’ve worked before.
If you want more material to review about interviewing or want to schedule a mock interview with a career coach today, you can do so right here through this link!
I actually had interviews for the Big 4 accounting firms this Spring, and can vouch to their expertise and how much it will help. Lynnette Horner knew a lot of things that I was previously unaware of and helped me a lot. It paid off as well, because I got the offer I was looking for!
The job search process can be intimidating and confusing, but it doesn’t need to be. There are so many people willing and ready to help, and so many resources that are available to you in your journey.
Did you know there’s a website that reports live updates as to which companies are hiring and which ones aren’t during the coronavirus? Well, here it is! Don’t waste your time, effort, and energy applying to a company that has currently set in place hiring restrictions or freezes.
These are all just some tips and guidelines, but there are so many ways to go about finding jobs and getting into the career you love. Tired of filling out online applications and waiting to hear back? You can check out more unconventional job searching techniques at places like,
You can also find job opportunities and connect with recruiters through platforms and websites such as these below, but don’t limit yourself to just filling out online applications. Meet with people you know working in jobs you’re interested in, and begin building and cultivating relationships today. Try to find ways to add value and give more than you get. Remember this—"Ask for a job, and you’ll get advice.” But, “Ask for advice, and you might end up with a job”.
Good luck to everyone out there, and now go show your job search who’s boss!
Like what you read here? Share this post with a friend, or go follow our social media pages. Want to learn more? Or need help polishing your resume and applying for jobs?
Go online and schedule an appointment with one of our Peer Coaches, or consider scheduling a virtual appointment with Career Services!
Curious about what to do if you or someone you know has lost their job during COVID-19? Check out this article,
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