Resume Help for Career Uncertainty During COVID-19
Updated: Jun 6, 2022
With unemployment claims climbing to 22 million in mid-April 2020, the coronavirus has taken a toll on joblessness not seen since the Great Depression. The unemployment number hovered around 200,000 in the months prior to the coronavirus pandemic—a recent point of reference prior to the COVID-19 mandatory retail, occupancy, and social distancing restrictions (source).
In addition, many of those still employed face career uncertainty as lay-offs and furloughs loom, as well as the potential for income loss and salary cuts in the months ahead as coronavirus shut-downs threaten employees across industries, from retail establishments and local businesses to white-collar firms.
In light of the current job market and downturned economy during the weeks and possibly months of social distancing and occupancy restrictions, ensuring your resume is current, polished, and effective is a proactive way to take action, along with exploring new career opportunities in different industries beyond your usual employment considerations that still incorporate your existing experiences, qualifications, and aptitudes.
How to Take Career Action!
Update Your Resume:
If you were laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, state this in your resume and cover letter so as not to leave question that it was due to your lack of performance; word it that your department or division (not your position) was eliminated due to COVID-19
If furloughed or laid off for a few months, again explain this as indicated in the bullet above and include what you accomplished during those months, such as completing online training or certifications (more on this under #4), taking online courses, or volunteer work/community support
If you were working during COVID-19, include how you shifted projects, made timeline/budgetary adjustments, or innovated new initiatives to accommodate the unanticipated difficulties the company faced with social distancing, occupancy restrictions, remote work mandates, and financial/staff limitations; how were you essential to the company and its customers staying afloat during this time?
Align your accomplishments and results with each job post of interest to connect your aptitudes and successes with what that specific company is looking for in the job description
Quantify your achievements with numbers, statistics, and percentages whenever possible (example: “Oversaw team of 15 sales managers” and “Increased team sales by 25%”)
Highlight transferable skills if seeking employment in a new capacity or industry (more on this under #2)
Don’t just list job responsibilities or your job description; show how you exceeded expectations at your last job due to your innovation, dedication, and leadership achievements
Ensure there aren’t mistakes, such as typos, spelling errors, wordy phrases, or passive verbs
Spend time reviewing your resume so you are an expert when it comes to discussing it in further detail; be comfortable and able to speak to whatever you included on it (more on this under #3)
Consider Jobs Outside of Your Usual Scope:
Thoroughly search online for positions that require your skillset and expertise but may be beyond your normal consideration; for example, if you are a project manager, expand your job search to companies with remote or digital projects or COVID-19-related initiatives so social distancing isn’t a factor
Make sure you align your resume’s content with each job to which you apply, as most resumes use applicant tracking system (ATS) digital scans initially; a successful scan relies on key word/content alignment and a plain format (without images, fancy or colored fonts, line breaks, or text boxes)
Focus on transferable skills that perhaps were earned in one capacity but would lead to success in another; for example, team leadership, client relationship management, and budget efficiency are beneficial in every industry
Highlight aptitudes and accomplishments that are relevant to each specific job post
Consider part-time, contract-based, and project-based job opportunities, as these are a good way to avoid employment gaps and earn at least some income while seeking other job opportunities during times of economic uncertainty
Prepare for Digital and Phone Interviews:
The interviewer will be looking to see how well you fit with the company and its culture, as well as how you can bring success to the position, especially in light of the COVID-19 challenges faced now and in the future
The interviewer may ask for clarification to your responses; remember, it is fine to pause for a moment to think before you answer
The interviewer will assess your match with the position and the company, as well as how your skillsets and previous career accomplishments can positively impact company growth and success
Know your resume’s content and be ready to talk about it in depth
Each question you are asked has a purpose in proving why and how you are the best candidate for this job and company; prepare yourself to answer potential questions such as:
Why are you looking for a new job?
Are you applying with other companies?
Why this job and why this company?
What do you want to know about this position and/or this company?
What do you want to share about yourself?
Can you elaborate more about ______ included on your resume?
What do you bring to the table as an applicant for this position?
How can you contribute to the company’s success?
What are your salary expectations?
Prepare to address more in-depth interrogations, such as:
Can you share about a previous challenge or failure, how you handled it, the outcome, and what you learned?
When was a time you received professional criticism or a negative response to something you did at work? How did you resolve it?
Can you describe a time when you applied your innovation or an approach that involved thinking outside the box?
What are your strengths?
What are your weaknesses?
What are your personal interests or hobbies?
What do you project for your future?
Expect a question about your salary requirements; for this one, avoid giving a specific amount, indicate you are flexible, and ask what they have in mind, if you can; prepare by researching typical salaries for this position with this company and other companies, or industry norms based on levels of education and expertise
Have a few questions ready to pose to the interviewer about the company, position, expected short- and long-term deliverables, work culture, how previous employees attained success in this position, and COVID-19 adjustments
Be able to discuss your strengths by knowing how your hard and soft skills led to specific successes; as for your weaknesses, be able to discuss one or two and how they were learning experiences leading to future successes after reflection, self-awareness, and determination; spin negatives into positives
Familiarize yourself with the details of the job description and how it aligns with your aptitudes and previous successes
Research the company, and if possible, talk to current and former employees, so you can discuss key elements such as its mission, strategic plan, on-going projects, accomplishments, work environment/culture, job demands, training and advancement opportunities, and vision, as well as the company’s competitors and industry trends
Complete Online Trainings and Certifications:
Keep yourself active and current, and use any downtime wisely to show you are motivated and dedicated to your career and industry; for example, complete online trainings, coursework (degree- and non-degree-related), and certifications in areas such as project management, technology/software, staff leadership, and industry regulations
Be sure to add these to your resume!
All About Writing provides the following services and more: new resumes, resume rewrites, resume updates, and CVs—as well as ancillary resume services such as cover letters, post-interview thank-you letters, references lists, bios, and LinkedIn profiles.
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