How to job search in the age of COVID-19

Jul 22, 2020
Niamh McInerney shares practical tips for job-searching during a pandemic.

When we look back over the last six months, the speed of change from a growth economy to one with a challenging financial path ahead is staggering. COVID-19 has had an immediate and unprecedented impact on businesses with some able to work through, some temporarily closed, and others closed permanently. What does this mean for jobs, your prospects, and the ability to find the right job for you in this new environment?

While we have seen recruitment freezes over this period, the economy is now starting to open up again and businesses are beginning to hire. In that context, here is some advice on how to put your best foot forward.

Leverage LinkedIn

We all know how vital LinkedIn is when looking for a job, but LinkedIn is also a critical channel when a company is looking to hire people with specific skills. Here are some ways to boost your prospects:

  • Step back from the language and read it through to confirm that it reflects your CV in the round.
  • View other role models’ profiles for inspiration.
  • Ensure that your profile includes language akin to job descriptions relevant to your search.
  • Follow the companies in which you are interested.
  • Only ‘like’ relevant posts with which you agree.
  • Share relevant content on LinkedIn (think of it as Facebook, but for your professional life).

Be proactive

As the market re-opens, it will be competitive. There are some practical, proactive steps you can take:

  • Research the companies and roles in which you are interested. Check out the latest news sites for the issues they are commenting on, as well as their website.
  • Scan relevant jobs boards regularly.
  • Reach out to recruiters and share your CV. While there may be a hiring freeze in certain sectors, you might be called first if they have your details.
  • Follow companies’ social media to get better insights, and also to hear about job opportunities they may have.
  • If a company is hiring, find out the closing date and apply well in advance of this to avoid any technical issues.

Use the time to upskill

While you may have more time on your hands, smart upskilling will help you bridge the gaps on your CV to what companies are looking for in their job descriptions. There are many free resources available online or through courses that will help you. An excellent place to start is somewhere like Coursera – there are thousands of courses available online on a range of topics. Webinars are also an excellent opportunity to learn from industry experts, so have a hunt around and sign-up to useful webinars in relevant industries.

Digital is key to everything we do now; this has been highlighted since working from home, and collaborating with our teams is set to continue as we seek to serve our clients’ needs. There are great quick wins here, like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets courses. You can also make considerable advances in more specialist software like Altryx or Tableau, which are used increasingly in businesses. Many of these courses are free and have communities to help you upskill.

PwC has also developed a digital fitness app, which assesses your capabilities and suggests mini courses to help advance your digital skills and track your progress. It can be accessed through the App Store and Google Play Store, with the login code ‘lRNALL’. PwC adds new learning assets to the tool weekly to reflect the latest developments and thinking. Once you download the app, be sure to take the self-assessment, which takes less than 15 minutes to complete. Upon completion, you’ll be given your digital fitness score and your personalised learning feed.

Avoid over-looking the short-term

Although a job may appear to be short-term on the surface, do not say no straight away. Such roles can sometimes lead to long-term opportunities. I moved to my current position, for example, from assurance on secondment for one year. Four years later, I’m still here.

Even if a position remains short-term in nature, such opportunities give great depth to your CV as you learn about new industries, businesses, and systems while expanding your network and enhancing your relationships. Your network and connections are particularly important in these times.

Be creative with friends

I would also encourage you to be creative with friends at this time, when some of you may have more time on your hands than usual. What could you do together that you would otherwise not get the opportunity to do normally? Be brave and go for it.
These are unusual times of momentous change, and with that comes new opportunities. If you get practical, focused, and seek out the opportunities, you will hopefully be able to begin a bright new chapter in your career. I wish you the best of luck.

Niamh McInerney is Head of Graduate Recruitment at PwC Ireland.