Covid-19 Job Search Toolkit
With the COVID-19 pandemic, job searching now greatly depends on the ability to navigate online and remote networking and job searching in a challenging market.
Here are a few tips and tricks to help you effectively use your time as you look for jobs and internships with a strong focus on using online tools and resources.
Many individuals have found themselves wondering if companies are even hiring during the COVID-19 crisis. While some companies have had to halt hiring processes, other companies have great immediate need for employees due to increased demand for services.
Here are some industries that continue to hire during the pandemic:
- Health care organizations, hospitals, and pharmacies
- Online learning companies
- Tech companies
- Grocery stores and delivery services
- Remote meeting and communication companies
- Shipping and delivery companies
- Working families looking for in-home childcare support
Companies that are hiring
(According to LinkedIn)
- CVS Health
- Dollar General & Dollar Tree
- Pizza Hut
A temp agency is a company that focuses on helping companies fill immediate staffing needs on a temporary basis. Some companies depend on temp agencies to help them fill their permanent positions; in those cases, individuals employed through the temp agency are converted to a full-time employee of the company after completing their temporary contract. Positions through temp agencies vary across industries and the specific contract requirements are different for each company. However, these opportunities can be a great way to find a temporary means of income. Here are several temp agencies in West Michigan:
- Express Employment Professionals
- Robert Half
- Gill Staffing
- Pride Staff
Should I wait to apply?
It is not recommended that you delay your search until COVID cases decrease and vaccinations are more prevalent. COVID has greatly impacted the global job and economic market, and it is difficult to accurately anticipate when things will improve.
If you're not sure if a company is still hiring for a position, use the job's posting date as an indicator. If the job was recently posted, it is likely that the company currently plans to hire for that role despite the pandemic. You should also review the company's website, social media, and job board to see if they have any formal messages about the status of their hiring processes.
How many applications should I submit?
You can generally expect to receive 1 interview (not job offer) for every 10-25 applications you submit (assuming you meet the qualifications and have tailored your application materials for each position). Typically, companies interview at least 3 candidates for a position, meaning that you should apply for additional jobs, assuming you won't be offered the first position for which you interview. However, as the job market gets more competitive due to layoffs and social distancing restrictions of COVID-19, you may need to apply for even more than that. Set a personal goal to apply for at least one job per day, if not more. Thoroughly document all applications you've submitted using this Job Application Tracker.
How do I find remote jobs?
More jobs than ever are now being offered remotely, which generally means that you can do the work from home. Please note, however, that some remote positions may still require going into the community, so you should always read the full job description to understand the nature of the role. If you are looking for remote work at this time, there are a number of different ways to search for remote jobs. As you look for work, you should use multiple job boards, as some employers may exclusively post jobs to certain boards. Click here for a list of top 100 employers offering remote work (please note that this list was published January 2021).
General Job Boards
One resource is traditional job boards and use filters to target remote jobs. Here are a few common job boards:
- LinkedIn. To find remote jobs using LinkedIn, select the Jobs tab at the top of the screen and type "Remote" into the "City, State, or ZIP Code" field.
- Indeed. To find remote jobs using Indeed, there are several options. If you know what type of job you are looking for, you can type a job title into the "What" box and type "Remote" into the "Where" field. Alternatively, you can also type "Remote" into the "What" box, followed by the job title, while leaving the "Where" field blank. However, if you don't have a specific job title in mind, you can just type "Remote" into the "What" search box and leave the "Where" field blank.
- Google. If you search for jobs on Google, select the option to "Work from Home" in the "Location" tab.
Remote-Only Job Boards
There are several job boards that focus on posting remote positions. Some of these job boards focus on certain industries, while others have a broader base. Here are a few options:
I've already applied. Should I follow up?
Under normal circumstances, it is quite common for employers to take several weeks, if not months, to respond to job applications. However, because many companies are dealing with ongoing issues as a result of COVID-19, it is not unusual if an employer takes longer than normal to respond to your application. To gauge if a company is still hiring for that position, you should review the company's website, social media, and job board to see if they have any formal messages about the status of their hiring processes. If you applied more than two weeks ago and cannot find any messaging online, it is reasonable to send a brief email to the hiring manager or human resources department to inquire if they have yet reviewed your application. In your email, it would be polite to acknowledge that their workload is probably higher than normal and that you understand any delays this may cause in their communication and processes.
My internship was cancelled. What should I do?
If your internship was cancelled but you will still be enrolled for the coming semester, don't lose hope — there are still other ways you can demonstrate career readiness and prepare to enter the workforce. In fact, you should carefully think about how you can strategically use this time to continue moving toward your career goals. As you evaluate, you must use your time effectively. Anticipate during future interviews that you may be asked, "How did you spend your time when practicing social distancing?" Or "How did you adapt during the pandemic?" Your responses to these questions will be a strong indicator of your character, so use this time to challenge yourself and use your gifts in perhaps new and exciting ways.
If you look at other companies (and even other industries of work), there may still be other opportunities that are looking to leverage your talents remotely. See the other tabs of this page for recommendations to navigate job/internship searching during this time.
While searching for other opportunities, here are several things to pursue:
- Advance your skills. With access to LinkedIn Learning, YouTube, Coursera, and so many other online learning platforms, this can be a great time to learn a new skills or perfect an existing skillset. if you're looking for some skills that will really help you stand out in the current job market, gain some basic skills in computer science, data science, business analytics, or educational technology.
- Start something new. This is a great time to invest time in a personal project that you've always wanted to pursue. Want to start a YouTube channel? Great, do it, and do it well! Want to start a new business? Do your research and take some actionable steps to make that dream a reality.
- Volunteer. Volunteering can be a great way to use your skills to address a real-world need. For example, if you have tech skills, this may be a great time to offer support to a church or another community organization to help them update their website or learn how to adapt their work to fit within the constraints of social distancing. You could easily do this work remotely through screen sharing.
Job Search Steps
Before looking for a job or internship, you should reflect on your identity and personal circumstances. Initially taking time to reflect will equip you with a clearer list of what opportunities to search for, which will allow you to more effectively use your time. Set a personal goal to develop a list of 30 target employers for whom you would hope to work. Separate the list into two sub-categories: "Now" and "Later". This list will clarify which companies you should prioritize immediately and which companies you could pursue later. To divide into these sub-categories, review each company's website, or contact the human resources department if necessary, to see if they are still hiring. If they are still hiring, place that company in the "Now" list; if they are not currently hiring, add them to the "Later" list.
However, it is also highly possible that you will need to look for jobs outside your ‘dream’ company or industry during this time. As a job seeker, you will need to evaluate your priorities: what is most important to you, and what are you willing to give up? For example, if your primary objective is to find a temporary form of income, you may need to apply for positions for which you are over-qualified that will allow you to sustain yourself financially during this time. Here are some sample questions to help you reflect on your circumstances:
- Given social distancing requirements, do I have the technology to work remotely? Am I willing to work in person?
- What am I willing to sacrifice for a job/income? (Consider Location (city, state); commute time; pay rate; vacation; hours worked per week; and working evenings, nights, or weekends.)
- Given my current financial situation, how immediately do I hope to find a job? (In a normal market, job searching can take 3-12 months.)
- Under these new global circumstances, do I want to continue on the career path that I was pursuing?
Prepare Application Materials
When searching for jobs and internships, it's imperative that your application materials are updated. The information below discusses various application materials that you may need to prepare.
A resume is a summary of the relevant experiences you've had that relate to a job for which you're applying. Typically, a resume is only reviewed for approximately 6 seconds, so it's important that your resume is a concise summary and not a detailed explanation. Typically, a resume should be one page for college students and recent graduates; seasoned professionals may expand onto a second page. Although the resume you submit for each job should be tailored for that position, you can begin to compile all your experiences into a multi-page "Master Resume" that provides details all your experiences. Later, when you are applying for positions, you can copy and paste various sections from this master resume to create a job-specific resume. For more information about how to write a resume, as well as some samples, check out our Resumes Handout.
A cover letter is a formal letter that highlights your interest in and qualifications for a specific position at that employer. The cover letter is also typically one page in length, and since it is a formal letter, it is a great opportunity to showcase your writing abilities. Like the resume, the cover letter must be tailored to each position for which you apply. For more information and to see some samples, please review our Cover Letters Handout.
In future interviews, you may be asked, "How did you spend your time or how did you adapt during the COVID-19 pandemic?" Your response to this question can dazzle employers if you show that you demonstrated initiative, endurance, and passion for work that aligns with theirs. Therefore, while practicing social distancing, consider how you can use this time to independently create materials that showcase your skills and interests. Some fields (such as computer science) like to see that applicants have demonstrated initiative through completing independent projects, such as the creation of a new program or website. If you believe that you're very passionate about something, this could be a great time to prove that passion to employers through the creation of a tangible product or report.
If you’re in a field that requires a portfolio (such as the arts or architecture), this is a great time to build and refine your portfolio. Create new materials, develop a website, compile and organize existing materials—all these actions will help you effectively prepare for the job search process.
Maintain and Expand Your Network
When job searching, it is not enough to focus on submitting online applications because nearly all jobs are acquired through a personal connection. In fact, it is estimated that 70-85% of all people with a job acquired that job through networking.
Given these startling statistics, most job seekers should anticipate spending 80 percent of their job search time on networking. This allows you to make the most effective use of your time; rather than focusing on submitting as many applications as possible, focus on submitting applications to target employers and for positions where you can leverage your network.
Here are some key tips to help you navigate online networking:
- Reach out to potential contacts and employers with whom you may want to work.
- When reaching out to contacts, it is essential that you find ways to add value to them, rather than just focusing on how they can help you as a job seeker. For example, if you reach out to a contact on LinkedIn, you may wish to share an article that is relevant to their work/employer, or you may wish to comment on something they posted on social media.
- Complete your LinkedIn and Handshake profiles. Connect with others through those platforms. For more information, check out the LinkedIn and Handshake tabs below.
- There are several different platforms that allow you to directly engage with people remotely. In times like this, it is very important that you participate in these to maintain and expand your professional network:
- Professional organizations
- Remote informational interviews
Due to social distancing requirements, expect to particpate in remote interviews. These interviews may be conducted with another person via phone, Skype, Zoom, or another electronic platform. Or, you may participate in a Recorded Video Interview with a computer. Here are a few tips to help you ace the interview:
- Practice, practice, practice! Just like an in-person interview, preparation is essential. For tips on how to prepare, check out our Interviewing Techniques Handout, and to learn more about behavioral-based interviewing, which is becoming the most commonly used practice for interviews, click here.
- Look into the camera. Do not look at yourself or your interviewer on the computer screen; instead look directly into the camera. By doing so, it will appear to the interviewer that you are making eye contact with them. This eye contact is a key element of developing a personal connection with your interviewer to help you feel personal and authentic. Additionally, make sure to smile &mdash& this is a great way to show confidence and friendliness!
- Don’t sit too close. Allow your audience to see your posture and hand gestures. Since body language is a large element of interpersonal communication, allowing the audience to see part of your torso, and with it your hand gestures, you demonstrate charisma and expressions better through an online platform.
- Test the wifi, audio, and video in advance. As with all interviews, preparedness is key. If your video, audio, or wifi aren't functioning during the interview, it could be perceived as a lack of preparedness. Before the interview, ask the interviewer which platform you will be using and do a test run of that software if you can get access to it.
- Sit somewhere quiet. To minimize distractions and show preparedness, find a place in your living space that will minimize sounds from kids, housemates, and (to the best of your ability) neighbors. If you live with others, inform them of your interview and ask them to be mindful of their volume during the scheduled interview time.
- Select a neutral background. Ensure that the place you sit during the interview has good lighting, no personal decorations, and no overly strong patterns. A netural background communicates professionalism and keeps the interviewer focused on you.
- Dress professionally. Even for online interviews, you are expected to dress your best. It is recommended that you still dress as if you were conducting the interview in person, although you can perhaps get away without the shoes.
- Put away phones. Store your phone in a different room to prevent it from ringing or vibrating during an interview. Laptop speakers can sense when a phone vibrates, and even when phones are set to silent mode, they have a habit of buzzing.
- Additional etiquette. Sit in a chair that does not swivel. Keep a glass of water nearby. Don't fidget (tapping on a desk, clicking a pen, etc.).
Job Search Platforms
Handshake is the most common tool used by employers looking to hire current college students and recent graduates. The platform allows you to make a personal profile, communicate with job recruiters, and search and apply for jobs. Many recruiters will now be relying on online platforms like Handshake to fill the staff needs that may traditionally be filled through career fairs and on-campus recruitment efforts. Here are a few tips for effectively using Handshake.
Your Handshake profile
- Add a professional headshot. Having a professional headshot greatly increases your chances of being considered for an opportunity when looking online. Make sure to use a recent, professional, and friendly-looking photo.
- Upload your resume. Some employers will only review profiles that have a resume uploaded, so you want to make sure those employers will consider your candidacy. If you haven’t already uploaded your resume, Handshake can pull information from your resume to help autofill your profile. If you choose to use the autofill function, make sure that information was uploaded correctly to the correct sections.
- Complete your Profile. Include information about all your experiences, including work, volunteering/service-learning, leadership roles, student organizations, class projects, and internships. Although a resume is restricted to one page, there is no page limit on Handshake!
- Add Interests. The “Your Interests” category is only visible to employers, and this section is used to indicate if you’re currently looking for work, and if so, what kind of work. Make sure to fill out this section completely.
- Add skills. Recruiters can search for candidates based on their skills, so you will want to make sure that your skills accurately reflect your abilities and knowledge. Technical skills and 'soft' skills are both important!
- Follow employers. Choose at least five target employers for whom you would like to work. By following them on Handshake, you make it very clear that you are specifically interested in opportunities at that company. Additionally, you will get alerts when the company posts new opportunities.
- Connect with students. Explore the Students tab to connect with other people who have profiles on Handshake. Message peers with professional experience that you admire. It is recommended that you see if there are Calvin alumni or people who have previously held roles that you’re interested in.
LinkedIn is the world's largest professional network on the internet. You can use LinkedIn to find the right job or internship, connect and strengthen professional relationships , and learn the skills you need to succeed in your career. Once you create a LinkedIn profile, it will allow you to share your professional background online, such as your work experience, education, skills, and recommendations. You can also use LinkedIn to organize offline events, join groups, write articles, post photos and videos, and more.
Your LinkedIn profile
Upadting your profile is essential if you want employers to see your potential and consider you for job opportunities. Completing every section increases the probability that a recruiter will look at your profile by 21 times!
- BSW Social Worker & GRPS Intern passionate about youth development and urban education
- Soccer Coach, Personal Trainer, Kinesiology Graduate // I help clients reach health, nutrition, and fitness goals // Let’s Connect!
- View your profile.
- Scroll to the recommendations section.
- Select “Ask for a Recommendation.”
- Provide information about the person to whom you are requesting the recommendation, in addition to information about your relationship with that person.
- After a recommendation has been written, you will need to review and approve that it be posted to your profile.
- Go to the “My Network” tab and scroll to the “Add personal contacts” section.
- Input your personal and Calvin emails, giving LinkedIn to access your contacts.
- This will then send an auto-email on your behalf to your email contacts, inviting them to connect with you on LinkedIn.
- Target employers: By following these pages, you will stay abreast of their current work, which will allow you to show your targeted interest in them during an interview. Additionally, some employers will highlight job openings through their company’s LinkedIn page, so this will help you stay informed about current openings.
- Professional organizations: It’s important to stay informed about what’s going on in your industry. Being connected to your professional organizations will allow you to demonstrate to employers that you’re aware of the broader field and that you are aware of current events that may affect your work and target employers. This is also a great source to find new personal connections.
- Leaders in your field: Who are the key influences within your area of work? Like professional organizations, you will learn much more about current events in your field and you will be introduced to the social community within your industry by engaging with posts that are posted by these key leaders.
Craft an informative profile headline. Your headline gives people a short, memorable way to understand who you are in a professional context. This is one of the most important places to put keywords that employers might use to find candidates. Don’t use this space to type “Student/Graduate of Calvin University”, as it is unlikely that employers will be using “Student” (or “Graduate”) or “Calvin University” in their keyword search. Instead, succinctly highlight your skills and passions. Here are a few examples:
Add a professional headshot. Having a photo makes your LinkedIn profile 21 times more likely to be viewed! But remember that LinkedIn is not Facebook. You must select a professional, high-quality headshot of you alone. Make sure you are dressed well, that the background is neutral, and that the lighting is good. Party photos, cartoon avatars and cute pictures of your puppy don’t fit in the professional environment of LinkedIn.
Develop a professional summary statement. Your summary statement (the “About” section) should resemble the first few paragraphs of your best-written cover letter — concise and confident about your goals and qualifications. Remember to include relevant internships, volunteer work and extra-curriculars. Present your summary statement in short blocks of text for easy reading. Bullet points are great, too.
Indicate your education. Be sure to include information about all institutions you’ve attended. Include your major and minor if you have one, as well as highlights of your activities. It’s also appropriate to include study abroad or summer. Don’t be shy — your LinkedIn profile is an appropriate place to show off your strong GPA and any honors or awards you’ve won.
Use keywords in “Skills & Expertise.” “Skills & Expertise” is the place to include keywords and phrases that a recruiter or hiring manager might type into a search engine to find a person like you. The best place to find relevant keywords is in the job listings that appeal to you and the LinkedIn profiles of people who currently hold the kinds of positions you want. Your connections can also endorse your skills on your profile.
Edit job preferences. This function allows you to indicate if you are currently looking for work, what kind of work you would like, and geographically where you are seeking work.
Add experience. Include information about all experiences, including work, volunteering/service-learning, leadership roles, student organizations, class projects, and internships. Elaborate on the skills you developed and the competencies you demonstrated through your work. Contrary to a resume, you are not required to use bullet points when providing descriptions for your experiences (although you may use bullet points if you'd like). It's acceptable to instead use brief paragraphs and personal pronouns in these items if you think that method will more effectively tell your professional story.
Share your work. You can add actual examples of your writing, design work, or other accomplishments on your proﬁle, where you can share rich media or documents. This process is similar to attaching files to an email. What better way to sell your skills than to show employers exactly what you can produce?
Give and request endorsements and recommendations. Nothing builds credibility like third-party recommendations. One of the best ways to get endorsements and recommendations is to endorse and write recommendations for your connections on LinkedIn. Consider doing this for teachers, professors, mentors, coaches, leaders, and groupmates. Additionally, you can also request that these individuals do this on your behalf. Although there is no way to request endorsements within LinkedIn, you can send an email to request one. The most impressive LinkedIn profiles have at least one recommendation associated with each position a person has held. Think about soliciting recommendations from professors, internship coordinators and colleagues, employers and professional mentors. To request recommendations within LinkedIn:
LinkedIn is an online professional social network, so you will need to add connections to make the most of this tool. Increasing your LinkedIn connections will allow you view more profiles and identify strong potential contacts.
Add connections. Effectively using LinkedIn requires connecting and interacting with other people. When connecting with contacts that you know from a professional context (such as someone who works at one of your target employers), personalize the invitation to connect. LinkedIn can also import your contacts from your email address book. To do this:
Be personal. Contrary to popular belief, networking doesn’t mean reaching out to strangers. The best networks begin with those you know and trust and then grow based on personal referrals. If there are certain contacts you’d like to meet, see if you have shared connections with them and, if so, ask that mutual contact to introduce you. When adding new contacts, especially if it’s someone that you may not know well, add a personal note that indicates where you met and that adds a personal note such as “I hope you are doing well!”
Follow key individuals and groups. LinkedIn profiles can be held by individuals, companies, and professional organizations. In addition to having personal connections, it is important to follow target employers, professional organizations, and major leaders in your field.
To build your professional reputation and make yourself known within your industry, you’ll need to actively post and engage in content in LinkedIn. This is a great way to build relationships with people that you may not see frequently and demonstrate your knowledge and abilities.
Update your status regularly. A great way to stay on other people’s radar screens and enhance your professional image is to update your status at least once a week. Tell people about events you’re attending, major projects you’ve completed, professional books you’re reading, or any other news that you would tell someone at a networking reception or on a quick catch-up phone call.
Engage your connections. To stay connected with others on LinkedIn, you must interact with the posts of others. When someone posts something that you find insightful, comment on their post and share it! If someone posts something that may benefit your contacts, tag them in the comments and explain why you did so. As much as you can, seek ways to add value to the posts of others: respond with questions, tag additional articles – don’t get into the habit of always hitting the like button without contributing more to the conversation.
Attend online events. Virtual events are an increasing normal element of social media. Virtual career fairs, webinars, and even virtual conferences allow you to engage in your field and to expand your professional network from any location! As with all recommendations on LinkedIn, it is important that you actively contribute during these events, rather than sitting as a silent observer. If you want to meet new people and get your name out there, you need to engage!
All Calvin students, faculty, and staff have free access to LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda Learning), an online platform through which you can engage in professional development activities, from learning how to write application materials to developing technical skills such as computer programming languages. If you are an alumnus of Calvin, check if your local library branch provides access to LinkedIn Learning for free; for example, if you are in the district of Grand Rapids Public Library, you can access LinkedIn Learning for free!
Indeed is one of the largest online job boards, with companies large and small relying on this as a main source for finding new employees. With Indeed, you can upload your resume, sign up for job alerts, and search for jobs across the globe.
When using Indeed, it is recommended that you always see if the company provides a link to apply for the position directly on their website, rather than applyinng through Indeed. Additionally, because so many applicants apply through Indeed, you should look for ways to develop connections with companies before applying, such as learning about them through their website.