Keep searching, hiring will begin again.
From focusing on online networking to practicing video interview skills, there are several ways job seekers can prepare themselves for job interviews during the COVID-19 pandemic. — Getty Images/Ridofranz

This April, the U.S. economy lost 20.5 million jobs and unemployment jumped to a record 14.7%. COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on nearly every business sector, and experts are expecting the pandemic to impact hiring until at least the end of this year.

If you’re seeking a job at the moment, the outlook may be grim. But experts say that doesn’t mean you should stop trying. “Companies might not be hiring today, because they’re trying to figure out how to do business virtually, but they will be hiring,” one expert told The Muse. Shift your job search strategy to account for the pandemic with these tips.

Focus on online networking

It’s important to let people know you’re on the hunt so that when something opens up, you’re the first person who comes to mind. Start increasing your digital presence and connecting (or reconnecting) with your professional contacts. Here are some places to start:

  • Update your LinkedIn profile. Make sure your heading is aligned with the type of position you’re seeking. Join relevant groups and make sure to participate in the discussions. Ask for recommendations from former colleagues or mentors. Send notes to connections and ask how they’re doing. Comment on other people’s posts. LinkedIn’s algorithms will start boosting your profile the more you participate.
  • Hold informational interviews. Informational interviews are structured conversations in which you speak to someone who works at one of your target employers or within your industry to learn more about their experience. They’re usually no more than 30 minutes and can be scheduled over Zoom or another video conferencing service.
  • Lean on your friends and family. We’re all in this together, and your friends and family have your back. Spread the word near and far that you’re job searching, and see who can introduce you to someone at a company you’re targeting. An email introduction can go a long way, and you may be surprised who knows someone who knows someone.

[Read more: How to Network...the Right Way]

Improve your skills

There are plenty of places offering free and discounted online classes at the moment. If you have time in your day, sign up for a course that could boost your resume and make you stand out from the growing pool of candidates. Here are a few platforms offering courses:

While you explore your options, dust off your resume and look at where it needs to be updated. Add remote-friendly keywords to your CV: Are you familiar with remote conferencing tools? Project management platforms? Add them to help an applicant tracking system screen in your resume. Reflecting on your past experience can also help you identify where you might need additional skill development.

Since you’ll likely be working remotely, focus on highlighting skills like self-discipline, excellent communication, time management and other traits that show you’re a self-starter who can stay motivated.

Look for something temporary

Right now, your next best career move might be any job — not necessarily your dream job. Consider taking on some temp or freelance work to start bringing in a paycheck. Freelance work can also help you get your foot in the door for a full-time position if you decide you like the company and want to stay longer.

“If it’s your first time entering the realm of freelance, take stock of your top transferable skills and then search for opportunities to leverage these in a different capacity,” wrote the experts at Glassdoor. Great at project management? Consider working as a virtual assistant. Have an eye for detail? Apply to be an editor or graphic designer.

[Read more: What Is a Virtual Assistant?]

Since you’ll likely be working remotely, focus on highlighting skills like self-discipline, excellent communication, time management and other traits that show you’re a self-starter who can stay motivated. Companies are looking for freelancers they can trust to come on board quickly and sync up with the team easily.

Practice phone and video interviewing

Many of us are used to meeting in person for an interview during the later stages of the hiring process. However, many companies are conducting their entire recruitment process virtually.

“It can be more challenging to have a phone interview because it is harder to interpret someone’s reaction and have a conversation that flows naturally. It can be trickier to have a video interview because it can feel awkward to be on camera,” said the experts at Monster.

Practice your interview skills for both formats to make sure you’re comfortable interviewing remotely. The more you practice, the more confident you’ll feel when the next opportunity comes along.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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