Job loss resulting from the pandemic has been devastating, with the unemployment rate reaching as high as 14.7% in the U.S. back in April. The layoffs, furloughs, and wage cuts have seen close to 50 million people filing for unemployment as of July. This has affected all categories of workers, not least of all Ph.D. holders and students. There are millions around the world who are dealing with unemployment due to Covid-19.
As it relates to these professionals, there was already a high level of uncertainty due to funding cuts that were imposed on higher education institutions in the last recession. Pressure on tenure track jobs and fewer opportunities to progress in academia have now collided with the harsh realities of the pandemic. Universities and colleges remaining closed since the outbreak have not helped either (reports indicate that some 200 small colleges are at risk of closing permanently).
As the pandemic prolongs, the challenges of academia appear to be worsening. It seems more scholars will need to look elsewhere for employment opportunities, but many have been in academia all their lives and don’t have connections in the industry to help them make the transition. “The COVID-19 pandemic will cause many PhDs to make a major career pivot and leave academia and their career success will require strong support and career coaching”.
The truth is many PhDs, like other segments of workers, are living in depression. They feel isolated due to the unabated onslaught on the academic world and are worried about the state of the economy. However, this focus on the sad state of affairs is also causing many to lose sight of an important fact: plenty of companies are hiring and recruiters are still on the hunt for top-quality job candidates.
How can PhDs and other classes of workers overcome fears, stay focused, and find meaningful jobs in these times? Here are 7 job search strategies that can help.
Optimize your personal brand
Making yourself more visible professionally is one of the best things you can do to boost your chances of finding employment. This is where overhauling your personal brand comes in. Start by updating your bio on LinkedIn, on your personal website (if you have one), and across your social media pages. Use professional images if possible and maintain some level of uniformity as it relates to colors, font, and writing style. Clearly outline your experience, skills, qualifications, and what you are passionate about.
Refine your resume
If your resume has not been updated recently, it is past due for some TLC. Research shows recruiters take as little as 7 seconds to scan your resume before making a decision, so it is important that you spend time making it perfect. There is much literature available about how to make your resume stand out, including how to show off your strengths, your passions, and clarify what you have to offer. One small change that can help your resume stand out in the current environment is to include keywords on your resume that relate to remote work. Many employers are seeking workers who are willing to work from home and will give preference to job applications that make that distinction right off the bat. Another tip is to ensure your listed skills and competencies are tailored to suit each job description you are applying for. Listen to the PhD Career Coaching Podcast – Why Companies Ignore Your Resume
Get the word out that you are seeking employment
Don’t just accept that jobs are scarce. Let people know you are in the market for employment. Let your friends, colleagues, and classmates know that you are actively seeking work and ask them to spread the word for you. Utilize your social following – make a tweet or post indicating your area of expertise and experience and ask for a signal boost (like a retweet, re-share, etc.). By making people aware that you are on the job market, there is a chance that someone will think of you or even refer you for a position that becomes available.
Research companies and recruiters for vacancies
As established earlier, there are still firms and recruiters that are scouting for new members to add to their staff complement. Your job is to find these vacancies by going on company websites and job boards, checking newspaper career sections and looking out for job advertisements both online and offline.
Get acquainted with the hidden job market
Doing a traditional job search is one thing but becoming familiar with the hidden job market may significantly improve your chances of finding gainful employment. The hidden job market includes all the non-public means of advertising job vacancies, including those posted on social media that are not ads and those that are shared among members of professional networks and passed around among friends.
According to research, this hidden area can account for up to 75% or more of the total job market. Tapping into the hidden job market means being active on social media by following and interacting with company leaders and business accounts, as well as joining more professional networks and groups.
Finding hidden jobs is also possible by asking for informational interviews with influential business leaders who work at firms you may be interested in. This is where you ask for a meeting to get insight, whether on the industry, a particular role, or about the company. While not explicit job applications, informational interviews can lead to job offers. With social distancing measures in place, you can take initiative and suggest setting up a Zoom meeting or scheduling a telephone call. A Hidden Job Strategy is to have a Networking Strategy Networking for Introverts
Diversify and expand your skillset
YouTube, LinkedIn Learning, and Udemy are among the many platforms that offer course materials and tutorials to help you learn new skills. Many schools such as Harvard have also rolled out a raft of free and heavily discounted short courses and programs since the start of the pandemic. All of these have made it easier for people to acquire new skills while under lockdown. Before diving in, pay attention to the skills that are in demand as a result of the changing environment. Adding relevant skills to your resume can help you get hired sooner than later.
With the rising number of COVID cases and dismal projections for the economy, it is easy to believe in the notion that all is lost. Remaining positive will keep your eyes open to new opportunities as they arise and put you in front of the line to get hired for meaningful jobs How to maintain a positive mind-set during Corona Pandemic
Dr. Tina Persson | CEO | Career Expert | Author | Helping people to fulfill their goals