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6 Steps To Accelerate Your Job Search During the Era of COVID

Geschäftsfrau fliegt auf Rakete Richtung erfolgreicher Zukunft

“How do I land a job fast?”

That’s a question I’ve heard for years.

“How do I land a job fast while quarantined at home during an economic crisis and pandemic?”

That’s a new one.

I know it’s scary out there right now.  

  • CNBC is stating that the coronavirus economic freeze could cost 47 million jobs.
  • A Federal Reserve Estimate is stating the unemployment rate could soar past 32%.
  • 50% of companies surveyed are considering layoffs.

But here’s the deal.

You have two choices.

1. Freeze up.  Sit on your hands.  Wait for this to blow over.  Then start panicking. Spray and pray as many resumes as possible to job openings.

OR

2. Make moves now.  Be proactive and deliberate in executing a powerful and effective job search strategy.  Get ahead while others roll over.

I’m here to tell you that the people who ACT NOW are going to be on the TOP of the consideration pile as roles open up.

And PS….

People are still landing roles!

My client Teju received an offer a couple weeks ago for her dream role in HR at Uber HQ.

And….

My client Leilani landed her dream role in the midst of the COVID crisis as a People Team Business Partner at a major web-infrastructure company in the Silicon Valley.

They both achieved this by activating an effective job search strategy designed to help professionals land jobs during times of turbulence.  

The truth is… virtual networking and virtual interviewing are a whole different ball game.  

Strategies that may have worked for you in the past won’t necessarily work now. 

With that, let’s dive into how to pivot your job search strategy to accelerate your job search during times of crisis.

6 STEPS TO ACCELERATE YOUR JOB SEARCH DURING THE ERA OF COVID

Step One: Create a Killer Resume

Before you even dive into throwing together a resume, it’s important to study job postings for the type of job you are targeting and draw parallels between multiple job postings.

This will help you understand what to focus on in your resume.  Think of it as the lens through which the hiring manager will view your marketing material.

There is a specific method I walk my clients through in my 6 week Job Search Accelerator Program to help you strategically pull together this prep information.

Next, take note of the following important resume checkpoints:

1) ATS friendly

If you submit your resume online, will the resume robot pull the information effectively?   You don’t want your document to get rejected before it even gets to the eyes of a human because of formatting or missing key words.

2) Attention grabbing headline

“Executive Sales Representative Who Exceeds Sales Targets by 30%”

“Award-Winning Communications Manager with 8+ years Corporate Retail Experience”

Headlines are personal. For yours, you may consider some combination of the following:   a descriptor, your target job title, years experience, industry, quantitative data or how you drive results.

3) Summary

This short paragraph at the top of your resume is your elevator pitch. Hiring managers or recruiters may take 7 seconds to initially scan your resume, so you need to make this count.

Consider sharing:  your unique value proposition, proof of your ROI, and your “why.”

This part can be challenging.

I’m here to walk you through this as part of the 6 Week Job Search Accelerator Program.

4) Skills

In this section, list out key words or areas of expertise from the job description that are true of you.  This will also boost the ATS.

5) Job Experience

When you list your job history, instead of focusing on job responsibilities, focus on your accomplishments or wins.  Each bullet point should lead with a quantifiable result you achieved based on an action you took (plus context as needed.)

6) Education 

Education or certifications are listed at the bottom.

**All members of the Job Search Accelerator Program will receive a matching resume and cover letter template***

Step Two:  Write an Powerful Cover Letter

Yes these are necessary.

And your cover letter cannot be generic. Hiring managers will spot this from a mile away and the document will be disregarded.

Focus on three parts.

Introduction:

Who are you? Why this company? Why this role? Share your career change narrative.

Body

There is a way to use the job posting and pull out 4 or 5 key requirements and highlight in the body how you are uniquely qualified to do each.  

The key here is that it is up to YOU to connect the dots for the hiring manager so that it’s glaringly obvious why you were born to do this role.

Conclusion

Drive them to action.

Dangle a carrot if you have one (get them curious to talk to you.)

Step Three:  Rebrand & Optimize your LinkedIn Profile

Your LinkedIn profile is the FIRST thing an employer checks when they receive a resume OR when they hear about you as a referral.

It’s also what can potentially get you recruited.

So your LinkedIn page is a BIG deal right now.

It can NOT be a straight up cut and paste of your resume.

No one wants to read regurgitated info.

PLUS, this is an incredible tool with a ton of features.  Here are 10 ways to optimize it.

1. Privacy

If you need to be discreet during your job hunt, be sure to update your privacy settings before you start to make changes.

2. Profile Picture

Your profile pic truly matters.  You need to have a professional looking headshot where you are smiling and looking directly into the camera.

3. Banner

This is like your own personal billboard.  It needs to represent the type of role or industry you are targeting. 

4. Headline

LinkedIn automatically populates your headline based on your current job.  We want to change that. This is your brand statement so it really needs to pack a punch.

Consider a combination of a couple of the following:

  • Role or function you are targeting
  • Key Words (What would someone search for if they were trying to find an applicant for the role you are applying for?)
  • Speak to the pain point your role is trying to solve (and how you solve it)
  • Your Unique Value Proposition
  • Quantifiable achievement
  • Skills & Expertise
  • Industry and years experience

For example:

“Communications Manager | 8 + years Corporate Retail | XYZ Award Winner”

or

“Executive Sales Rep | {Insert sales increase or quantifiable data here}”

Part of my 6 Week Job Search Accelerator Program is nailing down what your unique headline looks like for you.

5. Key Words

Examine job postings for your target role and identify the common words or phrases used. Pepper into your profile.  Increase the odds of showing up in recruiter search results.

6. Summary

This is your most important section on your LinkedIn page.

You have a LOT more space here than your resume summary, so you really want to beef this up.   It’s your online elevator pitch.

Consider sharing:

  • Your brag file: key accomplishments, quantifiable results, awards, strengths, and skills
  • The type of leader/colleague/teammate you are
  • Your Unique Value Proposition
  • Personal Mission Statement
  • Career Values
  • Passions – at work or personal life

This is an opportunity for you to be human.  Get them to know, like, and trust you.  You can get personal where you wouldn’t otherwise in your resume.

In the 6 Week Job Search Accelerator Program, we’ll work on pulling the right combo of levers for you here and the role you are targeting

7. Multimedia

Optimize LinkedIn by adding multimedia: Powerpoint presentations, videos of you presenting, graphics, etc. This is like a live portfolio.

8. Job Experience Section

Instead of focusing on job responsibilities, focus on your accomplishments or wins.  Each bullet point should lead with a quantifiable result you achieved based on an action you took (plus context as needed.)

It’s tough to pull these out of your hat if you haven’t thought about the job for a while. 

In the 6 Week Job Search Accelerator Program, I’ll be providing you questions and guidance to help you come up with these.

9. Skills and Endorsements

Focus on only the skills that are relevant to the role you are targeting.

Edit them so that the top 3 are the MOST relevant to your target job.

10. Recommendations

These are powerful testimonials. Collect recommendations by first doling them out to others. Ask those same colleagues if they would mind returning the favor.

Step Four:  Refine Your Elevator Pitch

Even if your marketing material is bright and shiny, if your verbal narrative comes across as clunky, you will miss out on potential job opportunities.

Your elevator pitch will set the tone for the rest of your professional relationship with that person or your interview.  

Also, having this down gives you confidence.

Now we don’t want you to come across as robotic or like you’re reciting a speech.

Instead, simply develop the key points you will hit in your elevator pitch.

Then practice letting it roll off your tongue naturally.

On the other hand, you also don’t want to “ramble” your entire job history when someone asks “Tell me about yourself” or the other party will check out.

We want to find the sweet spot between…not robotic, but not rambling.

And most importantly…. Emphasizing to the other person how you add VALUE.

PS:  Know your audience.  Tweak and tailor your pitch to your audience.  Why should they care? What’s in it for them?

There are three basic elements of an elevator pitch

1. Who are you  / What do you do?

Share your name, title or target title, expertise (the more specialized the better), and years experience.

2. What Sets You Apart?

Describe the value that you bring to the table.  Share the benefits/ROI/strengths that you bring.

You can demonstrate this by sharing an interesting project or accomplishment

Describe your “why” or passion

3. What are you looking for?

For example: type of company, industry, company culture, company mission, company values, type of challenge, or a specific task as it relates to the person you are speaking with.

During the 6 Week Job Search Accelerator Program, we are going to work on YOUR specific script and then practice. You are going to get my personalized feedback.  I promise you this part will be golden b/c it will give the person you are talking to a strong impression of what you bring to the table so you can advance in the process or with the relationship.

Step Five:  Activate Your Virtual Network

Now is the BEST time to network.

Professionals are quarantined at home with extra time to talk.

Not only that…. Building relationships take TIME.

You need to plant seeds and water them over time 🌱 …. So that once a job opens up, you are top of mind.

You want to find ways to be seen as a giver and a server now versus a “taker” later (reaching out cold to someone once you need something.)

There are two ways of getting your foot in the door:

  1. After job is posted
  2. Before job is posted

As you can imagine…. #2 is your BEST BET.

Now I also have strategies for getting your foot in the door AFTER job is posted…. That will be covered in the 6 Week Job Search Accelerator Program.

Here is an overview of 5 steps to get your foot in the door BEFORE the job gets posted.

Step 1:  Create a target company list

The goal is to get on your target companies’ radar BEFORE they post a job.  And/or to get a referral for a job at one of your target companies.  

Shoot for at least 20 on your list.

Step 2:  Empower your inner circle to help you

Leverage your inner circle (your friends/ family /colleagues) who ALREADY know, like, and trust you… and want the best for you.

Share your target company list with them and ask if they happen to know ANYONE who works at any of these companies.  Request a virtual introduction so that you can learn more about the company culture.

Think outside the box with whom you ask.

One woman was connected to someone at her target company by her hairdresser who had that other person as a client.

In the 6 Week Job Search Accelerator Program, I will be giving you a one pager worksheet for you to fill out and provide to your immediate network along with a script explaining how they can help you.

Step 3:  Virtual Coffee Chat

Once your inner circle connects you to someone at your target company, request a 15 minute virtual coffee chat.

Share why you are a fan of XYZ company and that you’d love to learn more about the company culture.

The person from your target company who you speak with does NOT need to be a hiring manager, recruiter, HR, etc.  This person is simply your “sponsor.”  They are someone within the four walls of your target company who down the road has the potential to refer you for a role OR connect you to the hiring manager.  One step at a time. 

Step 4:  Plant the Seed

Have the virtual coffee chat.

Come from a place of genuine curiosity AND service.

Share that the purpose of this conversation is to learn about company culture and what their experience is like working there. (It’s a non-aggressive way of building the relationship versus asking directly for a job.)

In the 6 Week Job Search Accelerator Program, you’ll receive a script to use for this conversation.

Conclude conversation with a thank you.

And ask “How can I support you right now?” (From the smallest thing, like an introduction to someone else, etc) to something bigger (like working on a pro bono project.)

Finally, ask is there anyone else they recommend you speak with to learn more? (Keep the ball rolling.) 

Step 5:  Water the Seed

This is the most important part.

Build the relationship.

After the zoom call, send them a thank you note. Follow up with anything you promised you’d do in support of their endeavors. 

Over time, send them random articles you think they’d enjoy. Comment/engage on their LinkedIn posts. Find ways to keep the relationship alive and be of value.

Down the road you can explore if they’d be comfortable connecting you with the hiring manager of your target department OR refer you for a role.

NOW IMAGINE MULTIPLYING THIS EFFORT. 

A list of 20 target companies distributed to all your immediate network who already know/like/trust you. 

Imagine how many potentially valuable conversations you might have. Imagine who will be FIRST IN MIND when a role opens up at that company. 

OR once you see a role posted, having someone to reach out to on the inside.

This strategy is only a PIECE of the pie when it comes to virtually networking.  In the Job Search Accelerator Program, there are many strategies I’ll be providing you to get your foot in the door and virtually network in times like these when it matters most.

Step Six:  Nail Your Virtual Interview

A virtual interview is a whole different beast than an in-person interview. 

Use this 10-point list to prep for virtual interview logistics:

  1. Charge your computer and all equipment ahead of time.  Turn off your phone and silence any text or email alerts that may come through on your computer.  
  2. Let your family members know ahead of time.  
  3. Check your audio and sound ahead of time, in your computer settings.  If you are in an “echo chamber” with hardwood floors, consider using headphones with a built in microphone.
  4. Get rid of backlight by directly facing bright lighting. A window will do if you don’t have a ring light.
  5. When speaking to the interviewer, look at the computer camera lens, (not the screen.)  This one takes practice. Think of it as eye contact.
  6. Be prepared for a potential internet connection delay.   One technique is to nod to confirm you’ve heard the question, then wait a couple seconds before you respond.
  7. Select a background that is blank or solid, but nothing distracting or messy.
  8. Make sure your clothing doesn’t blend in or conflict with the background you choose. 
  9. Clean the camera lens.  The smallest smudge is very distracting on the other end.
  10. Frame yourself from the chest up.  The camera angle should be head on.

Now it’s time to Get Into the Head of your Hiring Manager

Usually a hiring manager is thinking some combination of the following:

  1. Do I like her?  Do I want to see this person every day and work with this person every day?
  2. Will she fit into the company culture?
  3. Can she do the job’s basic requirements?
  4. What is her ROI?  Is the salary we will pay her worth the ROI?  Can she solve my problem or the department pain point?

Let’s briefly touch on points 3 and 4.

3. Can she do the job’s basic requirements?

Be prepared to answer behavioral based interview questions with the STAR Method:

The question is often phrased as “tell me about a time” (because they want proof you solved a problem in your past similar to what you might encounter in this role.)

(S) Situation: Explain the background of the situation. 

(T) Task: What was the particular task you had to perform? If there was a particular problem you were addressing, explain what it was.

(A) Action: What action did you take (or what skills did you use) to complete the task, or solve the problem?

(R) Result: What was the outcome of the situation? Did you complete the task well? Did you solve the problem?

You should have 5 wins/accomplishments in STAR format on the ready at all times. 

I call these feathers in your cap. You should be able to whip them out on demand.

But this part is key….

For every interview prep, copy and paste the job posting into a google doc.

Next, list out STAR examples of a time you did each requirement listed in a previous role.

Again, you can pull these out of your hat as needed during the interview.

During the 6 Week Job Search Accelerator Program, not only will I be training you on how to interview and providing you interview questions, I’ll be running mock interview questions with you…. And giving you live feedback on your answers. 

This is another part of the program that is truly golden and will set you up for success for future interviews.

Back to point #4 – What is her ROI?  Can she solve my problem?

If you can TRULY uncover the hiring manager’s pain point and prove that you are uniquely qualified to solve it…. You will be in the best possible position to get the job.

Prep Work: Research company pain points ahead of time

  • Read press releases and news articles
  • What are clients & customers saying on social media/ twitter?)
  • Monitor employee feedback (what are they saying on Glassdoor?)

During the interview…

When they ask, “What questions do you have for me?”

Ask…

  • What keeps you up at night?
  • Describe the most important problem or pain point are you hoping will be solved by hiring for this role?
  • What does success look like in the first 90 days?  What does success look like in the first year?

After you gather these clues, it is your job to drill into them both during the interview and after the interview in your thank you email, that YOU are uniquely qualified to solve their pain point based on your experience, background, and expertise.

HAVE I LIT A FIRE UNDERNEATH YOU YET?

Start the discovery process to learn the 5 steps to transition into a career you love.

CLICK HERE to download a free 4 part video training series: “5 Steps to Transition into a Career You Love.”

Let’s do this.

Betty Kempa, CPC, ELI-MP, is an executive career coach helping mid to senior-level corporate women transition out of unfulfilling jobs and into their dream careers. 

Visit:   bettykempa.com

Contact:  coachbetty@bettykempa.com

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