Applying for your first job amid pandemic? 5 tips that will help

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The unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic have made it equally unprecedented for those fresh out of college, or people who are applying for their first job.

Some conventional methods of interviewing seem irrelevant with many companies not having employees or job candidates in their offices -- but there are still some good practices applicants can master.

Jose Laurel, the recruiting process outsourcing coordinator at G&A Partners, offered five tips and pieces of insight for new job applicants in the pandemic.

1). Managers will be hiring differently.

Managers used to conduct up-and-close, personal interviews to get to know potential candidates. Now, they’ve had to change their interview process, with more Zoom interviews and other virtual meetings taking place.

“They have to be able to envision working with them closely,” Laurel said.

2). Use technology to your advantage.

With the pandemic forcing more interviews and interactions to be virtual, it actually presents a good opportunity for candidates to promote themselves via various online tools or software programs.

“You really have to make that the strongest part of your presentation,” Laurel said.

3). Make your resume stand out.

This is a concept that isn’t any different than a normal in-person interview, but the ways to achieving it are different during the pandemic. Laurel said there are a few examples of how to best do this.

  • Nothing is too small to put on a resume. “If you are looking for a sales job and you belonged to a social fraternity, it indicates that you interacted a lot with individuals, you’re comfortable with groups and you’re comfortable with meeting and making new relationships,” he said.
  • Include a professional head shot. Candidates often have pictures of themselves by pools or beaches, but Laurel said that’s not the look to portray on a resume. “They forget how important it is to have a strong head shot,” Laurel said. “(It’s) a professional look that tells the employer or recruiter that this individual takes (himself/herself) seriously.”
  • Have multiple versions of your resume. Laurel said this helps a candidate use a resume that best reflects the position he or she is going after. “Someone could very well be a good match for a role, but because they did not address their resume, they did not match the wording or phrasing to reflect the posting, (and) they will be eliminated,” he said.

4). Have good etiquette on Zoom interviews.

Laurel said it’s essential to treat a Zoom interview like you would an in-person interview, so dressing to impress and coming prepared are just as important than ever.

“It’s very important to have a professional environment,” he said. “Go ahead and dress like you would for a real interview. Psychologically, it matters. How you present yourself matters. How you sound matters. If you dress as if you are going physically to an interview, it changes your demeanor. It changes how you respond.”

5). It’s currently best to apply for jobs in essential industries.

Laurel said there are industries in need of lots of help, especially industries that are considered “essential,” such as manufacturing or medical.

For example, Laurel said, engineering students have opportunities because companies that are producing items such as Plexiglas or ventilators are in need of help. The same goes for hospitals that are hiring for a wide array of positions, including accounting.

Laurel said one industry that is to be avoided right now, at least in the short term, is hospitality, since employees are being retrained to handle COVID-19 protocols.

About the Author:

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.