With increasing workplace, college, and event closures, uncertainty can start to feel like the new normal. This anxiety is particularly overwhelming for young people just starting on a career path, looking for ways to expand their skills and experiences to make them more marketable in the future. Add a loss of opportunity on campus or in the surrounding area they’ve been forced to leave, and the worry tends to grow.
While almost every sector of the workforce will be influenced in some way by COVID-19 (coronavirus) and efforts to curb its spread, that doesn’t mean that your career path can’t remain on track. Sure, select businesses will be moving toward remote work, but they still need positions filled and people trained. Here’s how you can keep on track in the coming months.
The first step is to identify the company or positions that you plan to pursue and research how COVID-19 will influence the field. Like I said before, there’s no need to panic or become discouraged, but it may be necessary to understand the unique challenges or setbacks to your field, whether it is entertainment, business, or communication, in order to proceed in the job search well.
There are some fields that will be affected more than others during this time, including the service and travel industry. On the other hand, other companies like grocery chains and delivery services may find themselves suddenly needing more employees with increasing demand.
In addition to fields that may be limited by travel restrictions or event closures, there are some fields disproportionally influenced by the virus itself. For example, those looking to start a career in the medical field might need to think through the potential risks of these jobs, while also weighing the increased need for people in these positions.
While it’s true that your career path can remain on track, it’s also true that you may need to adjust expectations for how it will look. For example, you may not be traveling to do that all-day interview and tour that you dreamed of. Instead, the hiring manager might ask you to set up a Zoom, Skype, or phone interview. Remember, these can be different than in-person recruiting, so make sure you also stay informed on best practices for these types of meetings. For any company, you should expect some delays in interviewing and hiring as HR might have other more pressing things to deal with first in the next few weeks.
While that can be disappointing, if you understand the position of the company and remain flexible in your plans, it shows your potential employer that you will be a good fit for their company during a time with a lot of change, which brings us to our next quality.
Once you know the challenges faced by a specific field, try to think of ways that your specific personality, skills, or experiences can help the company succeed, even turning potential concerns into potential growth or benefit to the company.
For example, is the company having everyone work from home? Maybe you’re an expert on a new technological platform they could use instead of the one that keeps crashing during important board meetings. Is the team you want to work on worried that their audience is too pessimistic to make purchases right now? Maybe you have an insight into a new demographic or target audience that’s searching for this product. Stay informed and updated on what your field faces and figure out a way to meet that need, thinking outside of the box.
This is the moment for your ideas, your suggestions, your insights. The best question you could get right now is, “what could this company be doing better and how can you make that happen?”
Keep applying to jobs. Even if your field is experiencing delays or recession. Even if your position isn’t the biggest priority for the company. Even if you’re not sure what the future holds. Even if you can’t travel to the company for an interview right now. Keep reaching out to employers and keep hustling!
Eventually, your persistence will pay off. As professional career writer, Lisa Rangel, put it, “Like investing, trying to time the market is futile. Successful investing comes from doing it regularly and consistently. The same is true with job searching.” Even if the economy slows down, which may or may not happen and may or may not impact every industry, people will still be hired, and it will be the people who stayed “competitive and consistent.”
Remember, this is new for everyone.
You’re not alone in your confusion or concern. It’s not like you’re the only one without the playbook, forgetting your lines while everyone else has them memorized. The companies and industries you’re interested in are experiencing the same fears that you are. Be honest about what you don’t know and understanding when your potential employers don’t have all the answers.
Everyone is in the same position right now; it’s a time to come together and find new ways of serving your community through your work. Your career path may look different in the midst of these changes, but they won’t be forever, and your trajectory can remain set for success not just despite, but also because of, the effects of COVID-19. See everything as an opportunity for growth rather than a reason to despair.
As you go out to find your dream job, remain informed, creative, and persistent in the search, and remember that we at Her Campus are 100% behind you!