By Anna Hosey
Career and Educational Resource Specialist, APUS
Job searching is a daunting task, even without the presence of a pandemic. With millions of people unemployed due to COVID-19, global workforces have been tossed into a highly competitive, “Hunger Games”-style climate. I, too, faced unemployment—right before the first wave of this international COVID-19 crisis.
Start a management degree at American Public University.
I was three years out of college, working in a very niche field, when I suddenly found myself unemployed. I felt lost and unaccomplished, struggling through the trials and errors of today’s job market. But searching for a job in the midst of a huge economic recession caused by COVID-19 taught me a few lessons about the job-searching process.
Lesson #1: Search for Skillsets, not Job Titles
When I first began looking for a new job, I didn’t even know what positions I wanted to apply to, let alone what to search for. I quickly found that job titles are not exclusive, which made it difficult to determine which positions I was qualified for and what work the jobs actually entailed.
That’s when I learned to search for skillsets instead. When I applied for my current role at APUS, I had no clue what a Career and Educational Resource Specialist was, and I wouldn’t have even known to search for that job title. By searching for keywords like “jobs that require Photoshop and media design,” my job search became much easier.
If you’re having trouble identifying your skillsets, consider the following:
- With what do you have the most experience, and how does that relate to the field in which you’re applying? Typically, we gain the most experience doing things in which we’re interested. Even if you didn’t like your last job, consider how your experience could benefit you in another field.
- What soft skills do you possess? Do people say you’re a great communicator or have great attention to detail? Soft skills are difficult to teach, so they’re a great starting point when determining where you excel.
- What are you passionate about? Why does that drive you? Finding your “why” can keep you grounded and help you discover how your skillset is applicable in the job market.
By doing this instead, I was matched up with jobs for which I was actually qualified and interested in. Use your niche skillsets as your main selling points, because chances are there will be fewer people in your industry who have the same skillset and expertise as you.
Lesson #2: Become a Self-Starter By Developing and Showcasing Your Marketable Skills
The best piece of advice I can give is to spend any extra time you have now developing and showcasing your marketable skills. Gain experience that will help you cross over and into the direction you want your career to head. But first look at the time and effort you’re expending to see if it’s worth your time.
Seek opportunities to display self-initiative, leadership and drive. With everything moving online during the COVID-19 era, employers are searching for disciplined, self-sufficient employees. Do pro bono work, give back to the community or even create an Etsy shop.
Anything you do—especially online—will give you more experience and demonstrate that you are a self-starter.
Lesson #3: Look to the Future and Don’t Lose Hope
While thousands of industries are struggling, many more are adapting to the pandemic and becoming more robust. So look to the future for job security.
I knew that whatever job I landed needed to be remote or capable of fully transitioning online if it was going to have any sense of security during this COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve already witnessed educational institutions transitioning to full-time remote learning. It’s a safe bet that new career opportunities will arise from this crisis.
Determine where the gaps are in the job market and work on becoming someone who can fill those gaps. Brush up on your tech skills, educate yourself on the industry you want to enter and pay attention to how your field and the workplace are changing. If you can grow and adapt to provide new solutions and perspectives to a potential employer, that employer will be more likely to snatch you up right away!
Lesson #4: Get Comfortable with Rejection and Use It to Grow Personally
I have been “ghosted” by many employers who did not respond back after I applied for a job. Having joined a team of career experts, I now realize the many things I did wrong. But even if you do things correctly, rejection will still come your way—and this simply means the job wasn’t meant to be.
Instead of applying to jobs from huge job board sites like Indeed and Monster, use Google and LinkedIn to streamline your search and take you directly to a company’s site. This strategy eliminates the middleman, increasing the odds that an employer will see your resume.
Conversely, knowing when to reject job offers will save you wasted time, even if it seems like a step backward at first. Rejecting a job offer can seem like a costly and risky move right now, but it could be unavoidable if you don’t feel comfortable working for that company.
If you discover that the salary you’re offered isn’t going to cut it, there’s no opportunity for professional development, or you have a hunch that there’s a high turnover for a reason, do yourself a favor and say “Thank you! Next!” It’ll save you time and give you an opportunity to focus on what you really need.
Lesson #5: Utilize Available Resources
Finding a job in the midst of today’s COVID-19 pandemic—or any other time—is a harrowing task, and it requires that you possess patience, utilize your resources, and reach out for support. If you find yourself searching for the same things over and over again, take a step back and look at your skillset and career path in a new light.
How many different industries could benefit from your expertise? Search for what fits your priorities and skillset.
If you need additional help, consult with a professional on our Career Coaching Team. Our expert coaches can help you identify transferable skills, ideal careers and available positions.
About the Author
Anna Hosey joined Career Services in 2020 as a Career and Educational Resource Specialist. Using her skills in digital media production and project management, Anna assists in developing strategies for projects, social media marketing, and resource development. In addition to this, she also assists in Virtual Career Fairs. Anna holds a B.F.A. from Shepherd University.