Tips for job hunting, applications and interviews during a pandemic

Tuesday, 21st July 2020, 1:41 pm
Updated Tuesday, 21st July 2020, 2:44 pm
It's important not to take rejection personally while job hunting (Photo: Shutterstock)
It's important not to take rejection personally while job hunting (Photo: Shutterstock)

Coronavirus has thrown many people’s lives out of balance, with mass redundancies leaving thousands out of pocket. 

It’s undoubtedly a difficult time to be in the jobseeking market, with stiff competition for positions in all sectors. 

On top of that, video interviews are increasingly replacing the traditional face-to-face interview, throwing up fresh challenges for those on the job hunt.

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However, there’s no need to panic. There are plenty of tips and tricks you can use in your search - and interviews - to stand out from the crowd and weather the highs and lows of job hunting. 

Where should I look for job opportunities?

There are a number of popular job sites such as Indeed and Totaljobs which have a wealth of opportunities available, with filters to narrow your search down. However, when opportunities are a little scarce, networking is the most valuable tool you can use in your job hunt. 

Kevin Parker, CEO of HireVue, the world’s largest provider of video interviewing solutions, says that networking is “a highly productive way to discover employment opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise be advertised widely."

He advises “asking around amongst friends, family, or through Alumni groups or careers advisers” about any opportunities they might know of. 

Failing that, he says that “joining a career networking site can help you keep abreast of what’s going on in the companies and industries that you are interested in working in, whilst providing you with valuable connections to other professionals."

LinkedIn is one of the most popular online networking sites. 

How should I approach my CV?

A spokesperson for Totaljobs said that while there is “no set rule on how to get a job”, honing your CV and written application will “put yourself in a good stead for securing a new role.

“We’d recommend writing a CV which best sums up your experience, and then tailoring it and your cover letter to each opportunity you apply for. Consider what the employer has stated in the job description, looking at the skills and experience they need – and showing them directly how you fit the bill," the spokesperson advised.

"The first step of job-hunting is ensuring your CV is at a high standard. For this there are plenty of sample CV templates and guides to assist jobseekers, there are so many tips and tricks out there available. If you can, ask a friend or family member to read through your CV to ensure it’s at a high standard."

How can I prepare for a video interview?

As for any kind of interview, Kevin Parker recommends “upfront research about the job and company."

“Spend some time thinking about how your skills align with the job requirements, and if it's helpful, take notes to use during the interview," he adds.

He also advises taking some time to prepare how you will answer potential questions ahead of time.

“Create a handful of brief stories about challenges you’ve faced, approaches tested, and results achieved, whether in school or on the job in previous roles. Be prepared to speak about past experiences, including both solo and team projects," he says.

"Practice answering potential interview questions with an easy-to-remember format that works best for you.

"Perhaps the most well-known is the STAR framework that can help you organize your thoughts and response. Be prepared to respond to questions about previous work or school challenges by including thoughts on the Situation, Task, Activity, and Result (STAR) of your work on a challenge.  The STAR framework is especially good for open-ended questions."

And as for those technical blips? Parker says don’t worry.

“Don’t panic if you have a technical hiccup. While you should be able to iron these out by testing your equipment, occasionally you’ll still run into a technical issue, like background noise or another distraction. Instead of beating yourself up, try not to let it affect the interview. Just apologise for the interruption and continue with the question asked," he advises.

Dealing with rejection

Getting rejected from a role you’ve applied for is one of the hardest and sometimes demotivating parts of the job hunt. 

However, Parker stresses that it’s important not to take rejection personally.

“For many companies, it’s common to have hundreds or even thousands of individuals apply to a job opening. It’s important to try not to take any rejection personally, and it shouldn’t discourage you from applying to another role with the same company if you are a good fit," he says.

Instead of letting rejection demotivate you, Parker suggests using it as an opportunity to improve for your next application.

“It’s always worth asking whether the company can offer specific feedback, which candidates can use to improve ahead of their next interview," he says.

"Practice makes perfect. Use the interview as a learning experience. Every single virtual interview undertaken offers the chance to become more comfortable with the process and the types of questions that might be asked for a given role. You will likely find that you gain a new level of confidence and comfort with virtual interviewing that will help you with future opportunities."