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How to Excel in Your Job Search During Uncertain Times

With the pandemic bringing about a new normal, companies around the world had to rethink and reshape the way work is done. Many companies have transitioned to a fully remote model, and those actively searching for employment need to adapt in order to be successful in this new working environment. Whether you’re currently employed, without work or temporarily furloughed, I want to offer five tips on how to navigate our new normal when looking for a job. 

#1. Leverage Remote Learning Opportunities

As the job market becomes more competitive, it’s important that job applicants seek ways to bolster their resume. One way to do that is looking into continued education classes, upskilling with certifications or even learning a new skill altogether.

In addition to the myriad of free online learning platforms, many organizations with a primarily in-person footprint have had to offer learning opportunities via their online learning platforms for free or at a discounted rate, making now the perfect time to enroll in a course. Before choosing a learning path, find out what necessary skills you may need to improve for your role. Consider looking into what skills are in demand for industries that are thriving during this time, like healthcare. This should guide your choice in what classes to take. 

#2. Look for Remote Opportunities

As you have started to build up your resume, it’s important to start strategically applying for jobs that align with your skillset and interests just as you would have before the pandemic. The current environment allows you to broaden your search in one critical aspect: Location.  

Many employers have had to become more flexible in the working arrangements that they offer. Instead of limiting your job search to companies with offices in your area, expand your search to companies that offer remote work.

As in previous years, carefully read each job description and learn more about the company to see if it aligns with what you’re looking for before clicking “apply.” Being strategic pays off, as it will save you the effort of applying for something irrelevant to your skills and interests.

Evaluate your fit for a role by answering the following questions:

  • How many years of experience are required?
  • Does this role require certain domain knowledge or certification?
  • What are the key responsibilities?
  • Who will I be working with?
  • What am I expected to deliver?
  • Is the company sponsoring work visas for this position?

#3. Attend Virtual Networking Events

Networking and hiring events are key components of a successful job search.

Attending a career fair allows you to learn more about companies that are hiring and their current priorities, and opens the door to forming a relationship. With safe distancing measures in place, more firms are organizing virtual recruitment fairs instead of physical ones. While the same basic principles still apply, job seekers will have to keep a few additional tips in mind to make a good virtual impression.

For a virtual event, a job seeker should do the following:

  • Make sure you have the proper technology. At least one day before the event, make sure you have the proper hardware to connect. You should have a functional camera, microphone and speakers as well as a strong internet connection. Be sure to also install the proper meeting software at least one hour prior to the event’s start.
  • Be prepared. Since virtual meetings tend to lack the ease of in-person conversations, be sure to bring questions for company representatives to get into an easy conversational flow and show that you are interested in their business.
  • Dress for success. Even though you may be connecting from your home, it’s important to dress the same way you would for an in-person professional event. Make a good first impression by showing that you care about your professional image. Check how your outfit appears on camera 30 minutes before joining the event so you have time to change if necessary.
  • Establish a strong LinkedIn presence. Now more than ever, it’s important to have a strong digital presence. If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to get a LinkedIn account. Rather than seeing it simply as a tool to get a job, think of it as a means for growing your professional network. A good LinkedIn profile can establish a person’s credibility, reputation and personal brand. Ask former colleagues to leave you a recommendation or endorse your top skills.

#4. Seek Referrals

Referrals are an effective way to stand out. When someone vouches for you, it can put you at the top of the list for consideration, leaving you more likely to land an interview with the hiring manager and advance to further rounds more quickly.

Even if companies find that you are not a match for the current role, most will consider your profile for other similar roles over a period of three to six months. In a bid to encourage employees to introduce similar capable talent, recruiters will also look for those who have been referred via employee referral programs.

For example, if you’re interested in working for EPAM, see if you know one of our employees who can refer you. At EPAM, we also run an external referral program where you can refer your friends, former colleagues and other connections for various technical and non-technical roles. If you have someone in mind, see the links below.

#5. Track Your Applications

As the job market gets more competitive, it’s even more important to make a good impression by being organized. I’ve lost count of the number of candidates that I’ve worked with who forgot about their application entirely when I call them, which does not make a good first impression.

Whenever you apply for a new role, add the job description and company information in a spreadsheet or in a notebook. Doing so will help you manage the interview process and follow up effectively. By keeping information on the jobs you have applied to handy, you can easily pull out the high-level details rather than having to scroll through your history and logging on to many different application portals.

Applying for a job can be a job in and of itself. I hope these tips help you to navigate your job search. Use this opportunity to learn a new skill, expand your knowledge in a certain area and explore new industries.

The EPAM Talent Acquisition team is always looking for skilled talent to grow our EPAM family. Learn more about our open roles here.

Good luck in your job search!

About Shireen, EPAM Recruiter

Shireen is a recruiter at EPAM Singapore who has been recruiting software engineers and technology experts for the last four years.