To say the COVID-19 pandemic has had widespread impact would perhaps be the understatement of the year. The unemployment rate is at one of its highest points in U.S. history, with huge increases across virtually all industries. If you or someone close to you should experience a career transition during these uncertain times, what should you do? Christina Stokes, vice president, director of talent acquisition at RUBENSTEIN, joined us virtually to offer advice to those who may be looking for their next professional opportunity amid the pandemic.
Keep in Mind: Some Organizations are on Hold
Given the economic impact the pandemic has had, some companies are focusing more on working with existing staff versus hiring from the outside. That’s not to say there aren’t opportunities out there, but you will need to be actively engaging mentors, professional organizations like PRSA and proactively reaching out versus casually scrolling through job postings in order to land your next opportunity.
While you have some extra time, consider also utilizing resources to help you grow professionally, like webinars, online courses or other professional development programs. That way, you’re making the most of your time and coming back into the workforce even stronger.
Does Your Resume Need a Facelift?
If it’s been a while and you really don’t know where to start, it might not hurt to talk to a professional, but Christina advises starting with your network first. Look at your peers on LinkedIn to see how they organize their work experience, which may help you decide how you want to organize your talents and abilities.
“When you are applying on a job portal, keep your resume less graphic-heavy. Simple text that’s easily scannable is ideal,” Christina said. “In most cases, a listed position is going to see at minimum of around 100 applications. It’s not easy to immediately stand out but having a well-organized resume can help.”
Also remember that a hiring manager may only review your resume for a few seconds before deciding whether to contact you. This is why keeping the information laid out in a way that’s well-organized and easy to understand is crucial.
Lastly, consider the words you are using to describe your work experience and abilities.
“When it comes to the words you are using, use terminology that is in the job description,” Christina said. “It makes it easier for the recruiter, which increases your odds of landing an interview. The words you use are very important.”
You’ve Landed an Interview – Now What?
You know the basics – maintain good posture, eye contact and dress for the occasion. Throughout the interview, and with all interactions you have, you want to build rapport.
“Bring your best self to the table, no matter who you’re dealing with. Whether it’s the receptionist, the talent acquisition person or anyone else,” Christina said. “Each conversation you have is the most important conversation.”
But what should you ask them when it’s your turn to ask questions?
“When it comes down to the time when you are able to ask questions, you should demonstrate that you have some knowledge of the company. There isn’t any one right or wrong answer, per se, but having no questions can be concerning,” Christina said.
Use this opportunity to learn more about the team you may be working with, the types of clients or any other information seeking that shows your ability to have a dialogue. It also demonstrates that you’re paying attention, as you can reference topics discussed earlier in the conversation.
After the Interview
Should you write a note, send an email or do nothing?
“It varies from case to case,” Christina said. It’s not necessarily make-or-break, but she recommends always sending a thank you note when you can.
“They spent their time with you and it shows your gratitude. It doesn’t need to be long, but you should include something that was discussed in the conversation. It makes it more personal and authentic. Handwritten notes are special and meaningful, but there is nothing at all wrong with sending a simple email thank you note. It’s a quick, easy and impactful way to stand out.”
Christina also recommends following up periodically after the interview. Not every day, but it’s perfectly fine to check in perhaps a week or so after an interview to be proactive and show your interest.
Failing is OK – Don’t Fear It
“Failure is a funny word,” Christina said. “I think it’s a part of life, it’s not a bad thing. Look at it more as a learning opportunity.”
Christina shared the experience of her first layoff, which happened at the end of the Great Recession.
“I learned so much at that time about tapping into my network, reworking my resume and evolving professionally,” she said. “During that period, I got so many rejections before the yesses started coming in. It’s hard and it can be discouraging, but you have to be good to yourself during those times.”
As you are going through the process of job searching, be kind to yourself and remember to practice self-care. As challenging as it may be sometimes to find the right fit, know that your efforts will pay off and you will find the career you desire to have.
Thank you to those that could join us for this outstanding event! If you missed it, please be sure to watch it:
Jeff Adkins is a public relations specialist with Henry Ford Health System and a Detroit PRSA board member/programming committee chair.
For 75 years, PRSA Detroit has helped PR pros become smarter, better prepared and more connected. Join Today!