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Job Searching in the Age of COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

interview prep Mar 11, 2020

The impact on the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has impacted every aspect of our society. The stock market a new low which has weakened the economy, the events industry has seen massive conference cancellations, and the travel and hospitality industries are losing income. As it continues to spread around the world, businesses are taking precautions encouraging people to just stay home.

Along with current news cycle reminding us to constantly wash our hands and stock up on hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes, employers are putting special policies in place to limit contact and the further spread of this virus. Naturally, this is going to have an impact on the hiring process.

On February 28th, Amazon changed its hiring process, switching from on-site interviews to video calls, tell their staff, "not to bring any candidates onsite in person for interviews due to coronavirus concerns." In addition, Delta, Facebook,  Google and many other businesses have decided to take their interview process virtually to avoid contact and potential infection.

In some cases, companies have put a halt, or at least a delay, on any new hiring like the airline Lufthansa. And the British airline Flybe shut down, in part, due to the coronavirus. 

For the new graduating class of 2020, it's hard to know how this will impact employment prospects. While there was a significant increase of jobs added to the market in January and February, the sharp rise in COVID-19 cases recently and the precautionary measures employers are now implementing, may cause a notable delay in landing that post-graduate position.

So, what does this mean for you? 

It's time to build a social media presence that can serve as a powerful and compelling marketing tool. In other words, your visual brand matters more now than ever before!

That includes creating an engaging LinkedIn profile by (a) updating your profile and photos,  (b) networking, and (c) asking for recommendations. Also, this is the perfect time to practice your video interview skills.

LinkedIn

This is the perfect time to build a robust profile so your page can do the talking for you. Think about your headline, beef up your summary/about section, and make sure those bullet points under each position speak to the powerful work and results you brought to your employers. Don't forget to include a cover photo that speaks to your career goals and update your profile picture to something more current and on brand.

Be sure to use your professional narrative as part of your summary/about section.

Once you get your profile together, make a list of people you would like to virtually meet and send a quick message explaining why you're reaching out. You never know what new doors will open for you from making new connections. While you are networking, reach out to formal employers, colleagues or clients and as for recommendations. This will greatly enhance the credibility of your profile.

Finally, this would a great time (if you're currently staying in doors) to put your thoughts together and right an article for LinkedIn to position yourself as a thought leader in your industry or field. 

Interview Practice

If you're lucky enough to get a virtual interview with a company, you'll want to be prepared. Even though you're on video, treat it the same way you would a face-to-face meeting. It's easy to fall back into an informal tone because you're sitting at home; however, you need to keep it professional.

The best way to prepare is to practice, practice and then practice again. Record yourself responding to random interview questions, then critique yourself and make the necessary improvements.This will help you hone your answers so you're not rambling and answering in a clear and succinct manner. 

One of the benefits of a virtual or phone interview is that you can have your notes off camera to keep you focused and on target with your responses. However, don't rely on your notes. An interview is a conversation, so be sure you're looking at the camera and not your notes.

If, for some reason you are granted a face-to-fact interview, be sure to follow the Center for Disease Control's (CDC) recommendations:
  • Don't shake hands - the Interviewer will understand
  • Send your resume and cover letter electronically - don't worry about bringing copies to the interview
  • Don't exchange business cards
  • Bring your own pen and notebook to take notes - don't ask to borrow or use one
  • Wash your hands before and after the interview - you won't even remember the 15 things you touched during the interview
  • Use the hand sanitizer while you're there and when you get to your car
  • If you're sick, ask to reschedule or if you can have a virtual/phone interview to avoid getting others sick.

At the time of me writing this blog post there are over 119,220 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with more than 1,000 confirmed cases in the US and 31 deaths and more than 4,299 deaths worldwide.

So be careful, be thoughtful, and above all take care of yourself.

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