COVID-19 is not just a health crisis – it’s also an economic crisis, as unemployment in claims in Georgia have reached 1.3 million since mid-March.
But some places are still hiring, and it always helps to have a competitive edge when you’re seeking employment.
Here are five things you can do now to sharpen your job search skills:
Create a game-plan: What do you want to do and why?
Having a game-plan ready will help you feel more prepared and could ease the anxiety of the job search. Bill Lins, a career coach at the WorkSource Atlanta Regional career resource center in Clayton County, suggests first zeroing in on what profession, industry, and company is right for you.
“It’s like dating versus marriage,” he says. “If you have a job, it’s a paycheck. But a career is an investment.”
Figure out what factors mean the most to you – maybe it’s the level of challenge in the role, or the opportunities for advancement. If you can rank them in their level of importance, you can figure out which are negotiable and be more in control of your job search. Know which professions and industries are ideal fits for you and why.
Network – from a social distance, of course
Networking might sound counter-intuitive when we’re supposed to be distancing from each other as much as possible. But it’s still the best way to find a job, whether you need one now or want to explore your options later.
Lins suggests finding out what virtual events people are attending and make an appearance. Network After Work is one resource hosting an online networking event in May, and LinkedIn or Meetup.com are also good ways to connect in cyberspace. You can also create and invite people to your own networking events on LinkedIn, so now is a good time to make a profile if you don’t have one.
According to Business Insider, 70% of the jobs available aren’t going to be found on job listings – so your key to snagging one might be who you know.
Polish up your resume
The purpose of the resume is to get you noticed, not get you hired. That being said, you’ll want to make sure your resume makes you stand out so you can snag an interview.
Your resume should highlight your strengths with data and facts instead of generalities. For example, instead of saying “I have excellent time management skills,” you might say “I worked 30 hours per week while getting my degree.” The latter demonstrates your time management skills using evidence – proof, versus a boast.
Know your strengths
You should be able to articulate your strengths whether you’re interviewing, networking, or just job hunting. Like in your resume, you should be able to back up your strengths with hard data.
Lins suggests going one step further and figuring out how that information translates into a benefit for your potential employer. Let’s go back to that time management example. What does it mean for the employer that you worked 30 hours per week while getting your degree?
“Maybe you can put fourteen hours of work into an eight-hour day when it’s needed,” says Bill Lins. “The number one reason a decision-maker will hire you is because you’ll make their job easier.”
Try to identify five of your strengths and what benefits they might provide to potential employers.
Prepare for the Interview
If you have done the work up to this point, you’ll be ready for this step.
Some of the most common interview questions can be answered by the information you’ve already prepared. Here are a couple examples:
Why do you want to work for us?
Because you’ve taken the time to make a game plan, you can talk about how the company is a good match for you, and vice versa. It gives you the opportunity to show off what you’ve researched about the company.
Why should I hire you?
Here, you can talk about two or three of the strengths you identified and how they’ll benefit your employer.
Practice interviewing with someone you trust to give you honest feedback.
How atlworks.org can help
There are a ton of resources out there, and sorting through them can be overwhelming. Fortunately, WorkSource Metro Atlanta – the workforce development team behind atlworks.org – can make it a little easier on you. Signing up at atlworks.org/get-started will get you in the door with career resource center staff, who can help you figure out your next steps. Enter your information into the form, and someone from one of the career resource centers will get in touch with you.
WorkSource Metro Atlanta’s career coaches usually work out of the metro’s Career Resource Centers, which are closed because of the statewide shelter-in-place. But the centers have set up shop online and are hosting a variety of virtual trainings and workshops designed to prepare you for the job-hunt.
The webinars cover basic topics like interviewing skills, resume-writing tips, managing money, and negotiating salary. But the career coaches have also pivoted their lessons to help people manage in the current world of COVID-19.
Check out the comprehensive list of webinars available at atlworks.org/resources.
WorkSource Atlanta Regional and its partner organizations – WorkSource Atlanta, WorkSource Cobb, WorkSource DeKalb, and WorkSource Fulton – are the first stop for metro Atlantans to get help finding work or improving their skills, depending on which part of the region they’re in. A great way to see what county/city-specific resources are being offered is to check each agency’s social media or webpage. Stay current with their activities below:
- WorkSource Atlanta Regional Facebook
- WorkSource Atlanta website, Facebook
- WorkSource Cobb website, Facebook
- WorkSource DeKalb website, Facebook
- WorkSource Fulton website
What’s Next ATL, produced by the Atlanta Regional Commission, is a community resource that explores how metro Atlanta is growing and changing, and how the region is addressing its most pressing challenges.