Tips for Job Hunting During a Pandemic

Tactics, tips and resources to help you navigate the job market
close-up of a man buttoning a suit

Currently on the hunt for a job? We caught up with Tess Surprenant, director of the Bloch Career Center and interim director of UMKC Career Services, to get her best tips for graduating students currently looking for a job. Here is a wrap-up of what we learned.

Tried and True Job Hunting Tactics
1. Network, network, network

We all know that networking is an important part of job hunting. Now, with the potential for fewer jobs and higher applicant numbers, building connections will be more important than ever. Luckily, the new virtual working world has made it easier to get in contact with people. Don’t be afraid to share your goals with others. You might be surprised how quickly people will get on board with your dreams and cheer for you. 

2. Start with Roos to build your network

What if you don’t have many people to network with? Never fear, we’ve got you covered. Some of the best places to start looking for new connections are to follow up with any guest lecturers from classes, connect with UMKC alumni on LinkedIn, or search for Facebook groups specific to your industry or location. Scheduling an informational interview with someone is a great way to learn about their career path, their current work and their industry as a whole. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! Remember, that UMKC Career Services can also connect you with dozens of industry professionals and alumni that are happy to network with UMKC students. 

3. Do your research

Whether you are about to reach out to a new contact or apply for a position, do your research. Researching for a networking opportunity allows you to ask more specific and thought out questions which will impress your contact and allow them to provide you with more helpful information. Researching each job and company before applying will also help you tailor your resume to that position, something that Surprenant stressed as absolutely vital when applying for multiple jobs at once. 

4. Apply on company websites

Surprenant cautioned against applying for positions through recruiting websites like LinkedIn unless you want to tailor your profile each time you apply for a job. Platforms like LinkedIn are great places to find jobs, but applicants should look for the same job posting on the company’s website and submit applications there. 

Tess' Nuggets of Wisdom

"Keep all your options open for as long as possible and do what is right for you."

1. Know your industry's recruitment schedule

If you are seeking to join an industry that follows very specific recruitment schedules and you are not sure how COVID-19 may have impacted those schedules, reach out to UMKC Career Services. They can help you decide which steps make the most sense for your overall career goals. Not sure if this is you? Contact Career Services as well!

2. Questions to ask in interviews during this new normal

It is perfectly normal to have concerns about the working world and wonder how COVID-19 may have impacted the company you are about to join. It is important to ask the questions that matter to you so you can be as informed as possible when you make your final decisions, but you still want to remain respectful. Surprenant laid out two ways to ask potential employers about COVID-19 related concerns. 

If you are worried about beginning a job remotely, you can say:

“I am anxious to be successful here, so I am wondering what tools you have available to employees to help them transition to online work.”

If you are worried about the stability of the company, you can ask:

“How has COVID-19 changed your business’s culture?”

3. On accepting offers you might not love

Surprenant acknowledged that fear might make it easy to rush into accepting an offer that is not the right fit. She also said it is perfectly okay to accept a job in order to remain financially stable. It is important to understand yourself, your timeline and your finances. Keep all your options open for as long as possible and do what is right for you. She noted that you don’t need to accept the first offer you are made, especially if you have other interviews coming up. Reach out to the recruiters from the other companies to let them know you have been made an offer, but you want to be able to fairly consider all your options. Then inquire about moving your interview up. 

4. Do something rather than nothing

If you find yourself in a position where you take a job outside of your desired field, make sure you keep making forward progress. Reach out to companies and ask if they have any micro projects in your desired field that you can work on. Connect with your professors to see if you can assist in a research project. Volunteer with an organization that is related to the work you someday hope to do. It’s important you continue to learn. Now is a great time to utilize free online learning tools. You can learn to code, master excel, learn a new language or even join a writing group to keep those skills fresh. 

Overall takeaway

Know yourself and your needs. No one knows the future you want to have better than you. Put yourself out there and share your dreams with others, especially those who have a little more job experience. When in doubt, connect with UMKC Career Services. Bring your questions, your resume and your goals. They can help you along the way, even after you graduate and join the working world.

UMKC Career Services

Published: May 5, 2020

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