Hunting for a job during the COVID-19 pandemic may feel like a means to an end but persevere we must! What can you do to bring this never ending and repetitive story to the happy ending part, faster? We’ve been sharing job search advice with a special eye to the pandemic situation for the past several months. Here we round up the best tips for putting your best foot forward, nailing the virtual interview, touting your soft skills, dealing with resume gaps, and more. Let’s delve into expert advice from recruiters and hiring managers:
Remote Interview Acceptance
For the foreseeable future, many job interviews will be online. That means you need to ensure that you look professional and engaging on the video call. You also need to strive to create an emotional connection with the interviewer – not as easy to do on video as in person.
The virtual presentation part is the biggest change, and a lot of people are not comfortable with that. Intricate details like how to position the camera, how to talk to the camera etc are pivotal to your success. Watch for details like reflections on your eyeglasses. Other items to consider are:
- Nod and smile more often than you think you need to
- Using your hands can also help establish a connection
- Look directly into the webcam to make eye contact
- Dress professionally head to toe in case you need to stand up
- Pick a clean, uncluttered background and avoid virtual backgrounds like amusement parks
Review The Resume
You must get through the initial screening process and that means tackling the bots. Most leading job boards use AI-powered applicant tracking systems like iCIMS and Taleo to shortlist potential candidates. Understanding how these systems work is just as important as understanding what employers are looking for. Here is an excellent guide to improving your resume; https://www.thejub.com/millennial-career-resources/quick-resume-writing-wins
The machines that scan resumes are targeting keywords that are relevant to the job to be filled. For the best chance of moving forward and getting your resume in front of a human, use wording from the job description in your resume without making it an exact replica of the job requirements, goes without saying. Using synonyms or jargon may cause machines to overlook potentially relevant information in your resume.
Showcase Your Soft Skills/Remote Work Experience
Showing demonstrable soft skills, which you can bring up in the course of discussing challenging projects and/or working relationships, can put you at the top of the candidate list. Getting across to the online interviewer that you are both comfortable and competent in these new surroundings can be a challenge. So how do you accomplish this enviable task?
Here are some areas to consider for your next interview. What examples can you discuss to show these skills?
- Critical thinking/problem solving
- Social/interpersonal skills
Additionally, if you already have significant experience working on teams remotely, that’s a big plus right now since many people are doing it for the first time during the pandemic. Get ready to tell this story early in your interview, describing the challenges you faced and how you addressed them.
Bridging The Gap
While job seekers have traditionally dreaded explaining gap time on their resumes, the reality is many people will have gaps in 2020, whether due to a layoff, needing to care for family needs or other challenges. Due to today’s current environment, employers will be more mindful and understanding of resume gaps over the next two years. Community volunteer work can also be a plus on several levels. Voluntary project work adds to your resume, builds your network, and shows employers more about your personality. When you’re asked about the gap time, be ready to discuss how you filled it. Here are some examples that show you continued learning and improving:
- New certifications
- Publishing articles or speaking at virtual conferences
- Contributing to open-source projects
- Pursuing a personal passion project
- Online courses
Prepare For Competency Tests
Competency tests are common for technical roles, especially at larger organizations, to make sure the information on your resume matches your actual knowledge, while you’re at it, research typical interview questions for the role. In lieu of a face-to-face interview, they may be the only factor considered when it comes to identifying which candidates move to the next stage and which are discounted. Do your online research to check out a few sample evaluations around the particular skill set.
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