Job searching in times of uncertainty

Last week, I hosted a live online panel with job search experts – Ahyiana Angel, host of  The Switch, Pivot or Quit Podcast, Kyle Inselman, M.Ed., a career advisor and instructor at the University of Denver, and Becky Bush of The Typical Twenty Something.

In case you missed it, here are four key takeaways from the panel on how to overcome the shock of uncertainty that’s come with the COVID-19 health crisis and focus on what you can control to keep your job search moving forward.

Laid off? Get your story straight

If you’ve found yourself unexpectedly laid off due to circumstances over which you had no control, Becky reminded us that it’s important to be clear that this hardship was due to the environment and not you as an individual.

Without lying, of course, you’ll want to emphasize the external reasons you were let go: the market downturn, management change, culture mis-match, or department down-sizing, i.e.

When you’re able to unapologetically explain what brought you to this situation and understand that what’s happening is not a reflection of you or your work ethic, you’ll be better equipped to share the full picture in your career story with your network and, most importantly, to your next employer.

Write a great resume

When it comes to updating your resume, as Kyle shared, it’s best to “go back to basics.”

Keep things clear, concise, and as uncomplicated as possible.

Always tailor your resume (and cover letter) to the job description. Print out the job posting and highlight all the keywords you see that seem essential to the position. Then, be sure those same keywords appear in your resume so it’ll get past those AI screeners. Your resume should tell your career story while integrating those keywords. Then quantify your past work experiences with stats and metrics that show a history of progress whenever possible.

As Ahyiana says, “use clear language and get rid of all your industry jargon.” This is especially true if you’re applying for a job in a different industry. If you’re sharing your “development experience,” from the nonprofit fundraising world, that might mean something totally different to prospective employers in tech.

Keep up your networking

Don’t let your network go dark during this time. Get in front of people, make your case, and advocate for yourself. Just because networking is primarily online right now, doesn’t mean it’s any less real.

When you’re first starting your outreach and asking for 1-on-1 meetings, Becky recommends “being specific in what you might want to get out of the conversation and add what value you can bring to them.”

Don’t be afraid to set up virtual meetings with people. Becky adds, “Do your research and show them that you have gone above and beyond to understand what they do.” When meeting, share your story and ask about theirs. People like talking about their own career journey – so ask about it!

It’s okay to take a bridge job

Let’s face it, during uncertain times, sometimes you just need to pay the bills. If your biggest concern is how you’re going to make ends meet, it’s okay to take a bridge job.

It might not be where you thought your career was heading, but it might be the stepping stone you need.

Sure, it may not be your forever job, but remember if it’s serving your purpose – whether that be to bring in some cash flow to fulfill your immediate needs or a means for you get you closer to your ideal job, don’t hesitate.

There’s a lot that is changing, but there’s a lot that’s still the same

It’s okay to not know exactly where you’re going, especially in uncertain times. You don’t need to have 100% confidence in your every move. Instead, have confidence in your ability to figure it out. Own your worth and have faith that things will work out – even if you can’t see exactly how just yet.

This article first appeared on Bossed Up.