How to Remain Proactive in your Job Search During the COVID-19 Crisis

In this time of uncertainty, many companies and job seekers are faced with a decision. Pause the interview process or adapt to the situation. If you are a job seeker, ask yourself, can your skills be leveraged remotely? While some companies are reassessing hiring needs as their industries may be experiencing a slow-down (travel, entertainment and the gig economy), other companies are seeing unprecedented spikes (tech companies with high site traffic and ongoing remote operations). Overall, tech talent is still in demand and you may have a shot at landing your dream job in a more remote friendly environment.

Companies that would otherwise not consider remote interviewing are now revamping their recruitment process. Their focus is to continue hiring candidates and keep their business running. This may be a silver lining for those that have been waiting for their digital dream job to pop up. For those that prefer an onsite culture, there may be hope. Many of these companies are likely to resume their onsite culture in due time. Consequently, they may be more inclusive of remote working options and flexibility long-term.

Read on to learn how to manage your job search as the nature of recruitment evolves during the global pandemic.

Lean in to your job search

As some candidates pause their search, top performers know new vacancies are out there. Not only that, they are more than willing to compete for them. Businesses may be experiencing a slow-down; however, it doesn’t help your cause to exclude yourself from the running to be considered for open headcount. Companies still need to keep running and are forming contingency plans to account for their hiring goals. The best case scenario of not pausing your search is that you land a job. The downside is that you are exactly in the same spot as before, with some added knowledge of the market to keep you ahead of the curve.  

Make every interview count

While opportunities are still out there, many roles have been cut or paused. As such, you may have to work harder with what you have on hand. This means preparing more and practicing your code or other technical skills to ensure you ace assessments or interview questions. 

Keep an open mind and find creative ways to negotiate your terms if you get as far as an offer with a company you may have mild concerns with. For example, if you are concerned about location, this might be the perfect time to negotiate a remote work policy long-term given hiring will most likely begin remotely. This may be a great time to earn a company’s trust to work remote. If you are concerned about company size, consider the team and/or department size. They may operate with similar team dynamics or check off other factors you expect to see company-wide in an ideal employee range.  

You may also consider having less interviews as less cumbersome to manage than if you were white-boarding thrice a week and not performing your best each time. You run the risk of interview burn out when multiple opportunities are spreading you thin. Consider the silver lining and make every interview count with the added focus you can give to each one at present.

Follow up with companies

The nature of recruitment can be fairly volatile with a host of factors causing delays in companies getting back to you. With the added crisis on hand, you may have to adopt a more proactive approach than normal and be the one to steer hiring conversations forward.

Add your updated availability to each follow up note and balance your tone to be cooperative versus demanding. For example, ‘I enjoyed chatting with you last week! I wanted to share a few times I am free to continue our conversation in case you are as keen to assess a mutual fit…’ sounds cooperative. On the other hand,  ‘Any update???’ sounds unpolished and one-sided. Overall, be genuine, pragmatic and most importantly, empathetic in your follow up notes.

For companies that let you know they are on a hiring freeze, be sure to add a note to your calendar to check in every 10 days. If they happen to share a time-line for their next update, stick to that. Be courteous in referencing previous highlights from your conversation and check in to see if scheduling next steps is feasible. Do not use these notes to sell yourself. Save the humble brag for the next round of interviewing if and when you land it. Instead, focus your notes on relationship building. Connect your reader to what they care about. Perhaps add a link to an article on a topic of interest to them. Think back to previous chats and recall what they might have shared with you. 

Advocate for a remote onsite

If a company you are in process with is hesitant about moving forward, consider suggesting a video interview. Note, some companies may be new to this. Showcasing your flexibility and willingness to ensure their projects and priorities aren’t stalled may be the sign they need to formulate a new interview process. You can highlight any experience you have with remote interviews as well as any success in accomplishing work remotely to put employers at ease for this setup.

Negotiate an indefinite remote work policy

Most companies are abiding by state and provincial laws. However, some companies may still be turning a blind eye to an in-office culture. While I would reconsider working for a company that doesn’t value the safety of their employees, it would be wise to lookout for yourself. Negotiate an indefinite remote work policy given it is unclear when it will be officially ‘safe’ to return to physical proximity of others. Some offices may jump the gun here especially where legal requirements are softer.

Overall, when you cannot control external factors, take a more proactive approach. Keep moving and cover your bases to move closer towards your goal. Your dream job is out there and attainable should you remain open to it.

About the Author

Neha Khurram

Career Coach and Recruitment Consultant. Working with employers and helping hundreds of candidates land their dream jobs. You can find more of my content and career-related advice on Instagram @nehakhurram_