July 13, 2020

We’re months into a pandemic that has put many companies out of business, forcing millions of people out of work. Currently, 17.8 million are jobless in the U.S., while in Europe, the unemployment rate is 7.4 per cent. In Asia, nearly 10 per cent of the Thai population is unemployed and the estimated retrenchment numbers in Singapore could range between 45,000 and 200,000.  

Despite the world being in turmoil, there is always opportunity in a crisis—and you just have to look (harder) for it. If anything, Covid-19 may have made the job searching process less time-consuming, since virtual job interviews are the current norm. Instead of going to three interviews (before coronavirus), nothing is stopping you from doing double or triple that per day, all in the comfort of your own home. Moreover, with most companies adopting telecommuting as a new mode of arrangement, do not limit your search locally. This is the best time to spread your wings. If you want to get hired amid the pandemic, here are five useful tips to help you get back on your feet.

Be Focused 

If you have recently lost your job or been furloughed, it may be tempting to send out a barrage of emails to random companies, in the hope that at least one of them might reply. While there is an urge to cast your net far and wide, be intentional about the companies you are targeting. Invest your time and energy in researching how you can add value to the organisation by showing that you can be an asset. If you are willing to step out of your comfort zone and venture into a different sector, focus on industries like cybersecurity, compliance and logistics. They will continue to flourish even in times of crisis. 

Tap Into Your Network

Make a list of contacts and reach out to them, as they may be able to help you advance your job search. Research has shown that you are more likely to get a job through close contacts like your neighbours, recreational buddies and even ex-schoolmates. Apart from activating these personal connections, having a diverse network is the key to getting a step closer to your dream job. Consider joining Zoom networking events, or Facebook and LinkedIn groups to connect with people in a certain type of role or industry. Exhaust all options, including consulting your mentor for recommendations or asking if they can link you up with a company that you have your eye on. This will increase your chances of getting a first-round interview. 

Sell Yourself According to the Job 

In light of the current Covid-19 situation, the job market will be increasingly more competitive. With a slew of candidates jockeying for the same role, employers have a pick of the litter. Update and polish your resume to make sure it stands out from the crowd. HR will gloss over generic, one-size-fits-all resumes, so tailor yours to fit the job description. Also, avoid using a standard cover letter. Instead, create an original and compelling one that focuses on the distinct qualities the company is looking for. A tech start-up will probably value traits like humility, leadership, ownership, so demonstrate that you have them without sounding braggadocious.

Always be prepared for the interview process. Think about the potential open-ended questions they may ask, which include telling the interviewers about your greatest weaknesses or even why you left your previous jobs. Talk about your values, interests and insights. Every company is looking for a lateral thinker who is able to provide solutions to problems. 

Go Freelance

Although having a full-time gig may appear to be a more secure option, freelancing can be a viable source to generate income. Gwendolyn Tan, who works as a freelance music teacher, is content and comfortable with the flexibility that her job offers her. The income she receives from her assignments is enough to maintain her current lifestyle, allowing her to have more free time to pursue other non-work-related interests like dancing and singing. The upside of a freelance position is that you can test the waters first before making a full commitment. Don’t wallow in anxiety and fear, look at your retrenchment as a chance for a career transition—there is no better time than to switch to something you are more passionate about. For example, you don’t need a licence if you want to start a small-scale, home-based baking business.

Take on a Temporary Role

If the idea of freelancing seems too nebulous, contemplate taking on a temporary or contract position. There is a higher possibility that the company may convert you to a full-time staff once the economy recovers. Even though the temp job may not be your top choice, you will learn new professional skills, gain experiences and form more contacts, which can aid you in your future endeavours. Working in a foreign environment can also introduce new ways of thinking and expose you to different perspectives. As long as you are willing to embark on this uncharted path with an open mind, you may end up liking it more than you thought.