Job hunting during the pandemic? Here’s how to get ahead

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Newcomers looking for work right now are facing added limitations due to the pandemic. Aside from the slow job market, there are limited networking opportunities at the moment. The good news is that there are still opportunities out there. Now is also the perfect time to take time to assess your skills and map out new strategies. Here are a few tips to help you come out stronger despite the current challenges.

Assess your strengths

This will involve a combination of research, self-assessment and perhaps a little coaching. Start with a good understanding of the Manitoba job market by studying labour and economic statistics if you haven’t yet. The reality is, while most industries are affected by the pandemic, there are sectors that are not as shaken. In fact, you can find many jobs in retail; delivery; business support like accounting, operations and management; IT jobs like those involved in e-commerce (call centres and customer care), or those in the digital and creative sectors at the moment. Having insight into the market will help you understand what you’re up against and the opportunities you can explore.

One of the most essential steps that you can take during this period is a systematic review of your experience, qualifications, skills and goals. It will help you refine your resume and diversify your job search. Some do this by comparing their current resume with want ads for positions in their field or use online guides (Career Development, If you want the full treatment, getting a career coach is your best option. These experts can guide you not only with self-assessment but in your job search, networking and application. Manitoban newcomers are fortunate to have a range of free career support (including getting a coach) from settlement provider organizations such as Manitoba Start, Success Skills Centre, EDGE Skills Centre Inc., Immigrant Centre Manitoba, or their nearest rural immigrant-serving organizations. Even experienced professionals can benefit from attending these high quality employment programs.

Look for training

One positive development in this pandemic is the abundance of free online courses offered by ivy-league universities and reputable institutions. You can choose to boost your resume by taking technical courses or soft skill-building trainings. Or go for a more holistic approach by taking personal development courses like cultural awareness, leadership, language or mental health seminars. Don’t forget to boost your digital skills – many things are moving online and will be there for the near foreseeable future. Some great sources to explore:

  • Settlement Provider Organizations – Avail of free training and settlement support from newcomer orientation to housing and employment. If you’re looking for settlement information and language training, check out English Online’s offerings here: Events calendar.
  • The Library – Ask about the Lynda Library from your local branch or the Millennium Library.
  • Online hubs like Coursera, EdEx or Future Learn. Use Class Central, a hub for high quality online courses, to search for free training.

Network online

Are you active on social media? This is another avenue that you can explore to build your professional network. Start with a review and clean-up of your social media profiles, especially LinkedIn. Check if your posts are above board and if your information is current (polish your LinkedIn profile!). This is a good start for building a strong online brand. Here are some ways to network online:

  1. Use LinkedIn to search for possible contacts in companies you’d like to work for. Request to connect with them or ask for an informational interview.
  2. Create content on a topic you’re an expert on. Post it on your webpage and share on FB, Twitter or on LinkedIn. You can also share helpful articles from experts if you don’t have time to write. Just make sure that the information you are sharing is relevant, factual, credible and substantiated. Read 5 quick tips for navigating the internet like a pro to learn how to find great content online.
  3. Offer pro bono services like consulting, training or design. This is a great way to volunteer and gain new connections. It will also boost your professional brand and create job leads when clients like your work.
  4. Host a virtual meet-up or attend virtual networking events. Check online for virtual meet-ups that you can join or host one if you are well versed with event organizing.
  5. Join Facebook groups. Search for groups that share your interests or profession. Members of newcomer groups usually share job openings and other information that may be helpful to you.

Be patient

These are trying times for many professionals. You may feel frustrated that your career is not moving as quickly as you expected. Those who have lost their jobs may even feel hopeless. This is temporary. In the meantime, take care of yourself first and nurture your mental health. Do small things to prepare yourself so that you’ll be poised for the opportunities when things get back to normal. And always, don’t be ashamed to ask for support.
Sources: Should I network during COVID-19? Yes! Here’s how, Kajol Ratanjankar, Talent Egg; Finding a good job in Canada during COVID-19: Economic outlook and job search strategies for newcomers, Yilmaz Dinc, TRIEC; and Newcomer employment in the time of Coronavirus (COVID-19), Arrive. Accessed August 17, 2020.

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