COVID-19 has had a large impact on the 9-5 in-office model as many businesses encouraged or even required employees to work remotely. What was once viewed as a temporary decision turned into weeks, months and in some cases, a year or more, of virtual meetings, video conferences, and mastering the mute button.
The work-from-home approach has had an especially profound effect on those who are looking for a new job or the next step in their career. The job search process can be difficult as-is, but coupling it with economic stress and the inability to meet in-person, it can feel daunting. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you navigate this virtual job market journey.
While companies may be searching for employees, it’s probable that their own staff isn’t back in the office yet. Keep in mind that you won’t necessarily get the in-person chance to “wow” your prospective manager or coworkers. Pour your energy into perfecting your resume: it’s the biggest representation of you and your qualifications. Don’t forget to review for spelling errors and typos—asking a friend for a second set of eyes to catch anything you missed is always a good move. Another way to stand out: Consider crafting your resume a little bit differently every time you send it in for a respective job. Pull out keywords in the job description and make sure to talk about your experience the same way. Consistency is key.
Though it may be a time-intensive task, submitting a cover letter is an easy way to stand out from the rest of the crowd. Think of it as an extension of your resume but with the opportunity to add personality and a story. A well-written cover letter that reflects who you are as a person and prospective employee is a huge plus for employers who aren’t able to yet meet you in person.
Most likely, your interviews will be hosted via a video service. If you haven’t spent a lot of time speaking to classmates or colleagues on camera, try a couple of practice interviews where you get comfortable with the process. Focus on looking straight into the camera and feeling confident. A plus? The more comfortable you are during the interview process, the more comfortable you’ll be with your future coworkers when you start to work together on video.
It can be easy to forget that you’re in an interview when you’re not in a room with someone. Always remember to take a breath and pause after your answers. There’s no need to fill static air or talk more than you have to. Let the conversation feel as organic as it would if you were in-person, show non-verbal expressions to show your interest and wait to speak until the person you’re talking to is finished before you launch into a new thought.
While it may seem obvious, dressing professionally for your virtual interview is extremely important even on video. Don’t forget to check your background and make sure that there aren’t any obvious distractions that can be seen on camera. Find a room where you’ll feel the most comfortable and won’t be distracted by outside noises like a dog barking or a doorbell ringing. It’s also a good idea to test all of the necessary technology for your meeting in the days and hours leading up to your interview. Check your internet connection and speed and assess your mute and video functions. Review any notes that the recruiter or contact may have left about your upcoming meeting including time, interview platform, and the names of all attendees. And, make sure you get into your virtual meeting link early in case you encounter any issues trying to get in. It’s important to be prepared when you’re making your impression virtually.
Sending an email (or handwritten note if they’re in the office) to those who spent time interviewing with you is a memorable gesture. Not only are you thanking them for their time, but you’re keeping yourself top-of-mind in the days after your meeting.
For many employers, the virtual job market hiring process is a new one. Though it can be difficult, be persistent in your search, but be patient with them and yourself. Finding a new job can be emotionally taxing and it’s important that you stay positive and committed. If you’re feeling discouraged during the search, take this real advice from a U.S. Bank goals coach.
Looking for additional job advice? Read about navigating your career and building your future here.