Almost every industry has been affected in some capacity by the pandemic. As a PR professional, you may have noticed a reduction in staff or experienced layoffs or furloughs. While it might be more difficult to secure a new position during these times, companies are still hiring—albeit a bit differently than many are used to. Instead of feeling discouraged, finding ways to adapt to these changes in the hiring process can help you position yourself as a promising candidate, and potentially provide the opportunity to find an even better job than before. Whether you have been displaced due to COVID-19 or are a recent PR graduate, here are a few tips to help you during your job search.
Adjust to changes in the interview process
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about many changes in the workplace and the interview process is one of them. To stay in line with social distancing requirements, many companies are switching to virtual interviews. Doing your research on how to best prepare for your interview and how to adapt to changes in the process can help your chances of securing a new position. Some ways to help you ace the virtual interview are by preparing a professional background in your home, ensuring that you have a stable internet connection beforehand, or dressing professionally despite the seemingly more casual environment.
Find ways to fill in resume gaps
If you were furloughed or laid off early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, you might be concerned about the gap in your resume. While large employment gaps might have been frowned upon in the past, remember that you are not alone amongst other candidates considering the 10.2% unemployment rate as of July 2020.
Take this time to build up other areas of your resume by leveraging your unique skills to showcase your talents. You could do this by volunteering for non-profit PR positions to showcase your abilities or taking some additional online courses or certifications to further your knowledge in your field. While taking unpaid opportunities might not have been in your initial plans when pursuing a career in PR, these unique opportunities can help build your resume and stand out amongst a larger pool of applicants as you begin applying for a new position.
Take advantage of networking opportunities
While networking has always been a great way to secure a new position, it can be a lifeline during your job search in the current landscape. To network in previous times, you might have thought to go out for coffee or to an event to meet connections. However, in a post-COVID world, you will need to reimagine how you network with other professionals. First, start by connecting with people you know personally, whether it’s friends, family, or previous coworkers so they can help you to get your name out there.
Next, branch out by networking with people you may not know in new ways. LinkedIn is a powerful tool that gives you the ability to connect with professionals with the click of a button and allows you to make a strong first impression on a connection. Even finding individuals at a potential company you are interested in could be a good way to expand your network while also getting an inside look at the organization and its people. You could also use LinkedIn as a way to follow up with employers you have been in contact with to give you an edge over the competition during this time outside the office.
Ask the right questions
Remember that the interview process is just as much an opportunity for you to get to know a potential employer as it is for them to learn about you. When you are searching for a job, try to remember to ask questions about the company to not only ensure that your financial needs will be met but to also understand their company values and ensure they align with yours. Here are a few key questions to ask during your search. Previous Culpwrit posts offer some questions you might want use, including How to Nail a Job Interview Via Questions..
Flexible working arrangements
As you are well aware, COVID-19 has shifted most aspects of daily life and finding a company that has been able to adjust to these abrupt changes shows how they operate when faced with times of adversity. This is especially important if you have family or obligations that have also been affected by the pandemic. Check to see if the company allows some work from home or flexible scheduling options to better accommodate your changing needs as an employee during these challenging times.
Company culture is important to ask about during your job search to give you a better idea of how the working environment is at a potential company on a day-to-day basis. Organizations that find ways to improve company culture are shown to have better productivity and overall morale amongst employees. Prior to COVID-19, some of the various ways that companies may have looked to cultivate their culture included team building events, mentorship opportunities, pet-friendly office policies, or casual dress codes.
After the pandemic, many organizations have shifted to a fully or partially remote workforce potentially making it difficult to be able to continue to build upon company culture and relationships without having an in-office experience. This is why it’s important to ask how the company you are interviewing with is fostering their culture despite the challenges of the current landscape. Not only will this show you how they value their employee’s experiences at the company but also how they adapt to supporting their people during times of uncertainty.
When you are looking for a new position, make sure to ask about the benefits that the company offers. Now more than ever, it is important to have safeguards set in place, and a great opportunity to do this is through your employer. Employer-provided benefits provide both health and financial protection, which is exceptionally important given the current landscape. Some examples of benefits to look for would be health insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, and paid sick leave.
Remember to do your research and ensure that your employer-provided benefits would provide enough coverage to ensure that if something unexpected were to happen, both you and your family would be adequately protected. For example, it is recommended to have 10-15 times your annual income as coverage for your life insurance policy to ensure that your family would be protected if you were to unexpectedly pass away. Some basic employer-provided life insurance coverage might leave you underinsured, so finding your own policy is an additional step to take to safeguard your future if your employer does not offer the option to purchase additional coverage through the group coverage.
While the pandemic has created challenges for PR professionals, remember that times of hardship can sometimes lead to outcomes even better than you might have thought possible. While the job searching process can sometimes feel overwhelming, it can be helpful to find ways to adapt to the changes that are taking place in how hiring is being done to stand out from other applicants. Continue to network and ask the right questions while leveraging your unique abilities to be able to find a new position, leading you to the next stage in your career.