After supporting hundreds of job seekers during the past six months of COVID-19, we’ve gained an expert level understanding of what works in the current job market; likewise, we’ve heard every question and concern possible when it comes to getting hired during the pandemic.
In our experience, most of the anxiety job seekers are experiencing right now is due to two factors: Outdated thinking and misinformation spread by other anxious job seekers! Beware of these four myths as you execute your job search, and follow our tips for building a strategy that helps you stand out from your competition in the current climate.
Myth #1: “Companies aren’t hiring right now.”
A common frustration among job-seekers is that companies aren’t hiring new positions right now, and the ones that have extremely competitive talent pools. This isn’t necessarily the case! The fact is, companies are getting more creative with how they’re hiring and creating open positions. Remote work opportunities in particular have skyrocketed since the beginning of the pandemic, from small and large companies alike. Companies are hiring – you just have to know what they’re looking for!
As for what job skills will be in demand moving forward throughout this pandemic, and even so after it ends, a recurring theme is tech-oriented skills such as data literacy, digital and coding skills, and artificial intelligence/machine learning skills. These also happen to be the companies that are able to hire and work remotely, so there is hope in this space for job seekers like you. Yes, even if you aren’t a coder or product manager. Growth in any area in the tech space means growth in administrative, customer service, and clerical roles too.
We’re based in Denver, so we’ve heard a lot about the Denver job market specifically. There has been a large increase in the number of tech job postings in recent months, making Denver one of the leading cities in the country in this category. So the nation’s major transition to remote work shouldn’t be seen as an obstacle, but rather an opportunity to engage more applicants from all over the country in virtual roles.
Myth #2: “If I can beat the applicant tracking system, I’ll get an interview.”
Too often we see job seekers operating with what we call a “click-click-apply” approach while looking for work. During this pandemic, this is no longer enough to be successful in this market. You’ll be making dead end efforts that land you in a candidate pool five times the size of the one they would have been in just six months ago.
You’ll be playing an endless numbers game, spending hours each day, sending off dozens of applications, only to hear nothing back. In fact, 60% of jobs aren’t landed through online applications, because beating the applicant tracking system is just one piece of the job search puzzle.
To successfully land work during COVID, ensure your job search includes the following:
- A strategy that side-steps gatekeepers (i.e. HR screeners and online application portals) wherever possible.
- Meaningful connections with professionals on the inside of the companies you wish to work for.
- Relationships rather than transactions – this requires an integrated approach of research, networking, cold outreach, and smart follow-up.
Myth #3: “I need to stand out in a candidate pool of 400-500 competitors.”
If you’ve been laid off or furloughed as a result of the pandemic, it’s likely that you’ve gone to apply for a job and noticed that there are massive pools of other applicants for the position.
Don’t panic! There are ways you can stand out, even in a huge group of applicants.
It’s key to know that a lot of work is involved before the application process even begins. Preparation should consist of you clearly laying out what you are looking for in a company. It should also involve extensive research about the company you’re applying to, so the hiring manager knows you took the time to be an informed applicant!
Take an multi-layered approach to pursuing your next role. Disregard the notion that you should be applying to lots of jobs hastily just to cast a wide net. Instead, strive to make meaningful connections with those inside the companies you are applying to. If you invest time into your application, show genuine interest in the company, and tap into an advocacy network, you’ll increase your chances of success throughout the process.
Your effort to make a meaningful connection with the company you’re interested in will make you stand out from the crowd and increase your perceived value in the eyes of the employer. If you truly understand why you think the job is the right fit for you, you’ll be a much stronger applicant than if you had just tried to squeeze out a halfhearted job application with little to no preparation.
Myth #4: “Ageism is standing in my way.”
Fact: Ageism is a reality for job seekers young and old.
Fact: It’s not what’s actually standing in your way.
While there is no question that discrimination on the basis of age occurs within the hiring processes of many employers, your age does isn’t usually the determining factor of your job search success—that is, IF your application, resume, and overall brand as candidate combats the issue head-on. Tackling ageism requires more than disguising your graduation years, or eliminating older positions from your timeline. In fact it’s not about hiding your age at all!
Rather, to overcome misconceptions about your age, it’s essential that you demonstrate your agility, energy, and pro-activeness as a candidate, whether you’re early or late in your career. Does your cover letter speak in a tone that matches that of the company? Have you determined which tools and systems the company uses, and if so, are you able to show/explain how you have leveraged similar ones in the past? Can you tell stories about how you’ve adapted? Introduced new solutions? Thrived in similar cultures previously? You’ll want to overcome misconceptions every possible touchpoint of the hiring process, from the bullets of your resume, to how you show up during an interview.
Don’t allow outdated thinking and misinformation to lead you to be disheartened and challenged in this particular job market. Ensuring you’re prepared and connected doesn’t have to take endless months of effort. With the right focus, strategy, and groundwork, you can go from having no options, to