Tips To Accelerate Your Career During The Coronavirus Pandemic

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Aug. 12 2020, Published 3:05 a.m. ET

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A global pandemic may be one of the worst times to job hunt. In July, the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits increased for the first time in four months, lifting the total reported from March 21st to a staggering 52.7 million.

Still, with a competitive job market and hiring freezes at companies, what can someone do to accelerate their career during the coronavirus pandemic?

Listening to the stories of job seekers in my community, I discovered that while some professionals were seeking work after a career break, others were attempting to transition into another field. A common factor among all of their narratives was a reliance on LinkedIn and networking to get ahead.

Intrigued, I turned to Becca Camp and Cat Espiritu to get their input on how professionals can make a career change, level up in their current role or make a move during the current public health crisis. Camp is a leadership and executive coach with a background in science, product management, psychology, while Espiritu is a technical recruiter who also experienced being a job seeker during the pandemic.

Strategies To Level Up Your Job Hunt

Her Agenda: What strategies can individuals pursue if they want to take their career to the next level during the pandemic, either at their current organization or beyond?

Becca Camp: Honestly, I don’t think the strategies have changed that much. There have always been three high-leverage paths:

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  1. Don’t do it alone. Talk to everyone you respect in your organization and share your intentions to level up. Understand who you need on your side and do what it takes to get their attention; this usually involves working on strategically central projects, so you’ll want to think about what those projects are and start maneuvering.
  2. Make your team successful and give credit to others freely and generously. People will NOT forget it. Also—“successful” means you measured something concrete.
  3. Make friends with your inner critic/inner saboteur. If you don’t believe at a deep level that you deserve it and are capable of leveling up, no one else will, either. By the same token: if you do believe it, others automatically will too.

Cat Espiritu: First and foremost, my advice always will be to tell people to use their network. The market is looking a lot better for job seekers, but something that I’m also noticing is that there’s still that fear from March that has carried over, i.e. job seekers are thinking that the market is not great. They take the first job, not realizing that they are still in process with other companies and have the opportunity to negotiate.

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Mistakes To Avoid

Her Agenda: What’s the number one mistake someone should avoid during this time?

Becca Camp: Never, ever, waste time cold-emailing job listings. Your job is to be strategic, which is defined very simply: invest your resources in the highest leverage activities. Spray-and-praying your resume is the opposite. Even if you do make it through the filter, you might waste time on several interviews and/or projects before you figure out it’s not the right fit for you.

Cat Espiritu: Avoid applying to everything at one specific company. Companies can see if you’ve applied to seven jobs and were qualified for two. This makes them feel like you have not invested in yourself for your own job search. So, be your best advocate by only applying to things that you are passionate about.

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Practice Self-Care

Her Agenda: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our audience?  

Becca Camp: How you spend your day is how you spend your life. If you overload yourself, spend time in low-leverage ways, and don’t set up feedback loops that nourish and affirm you, you’ll feel exhausted and miserable in this process. Get clear on a) what your strengths are and b) in what dimensions you’re looking to grow, and tell everyone who’ll listen.

Cat Espiritu: I think first and foremost, people need to not be hard on themselves. Take the time to network and interview for jobs, but also practice self-care. Don’t always put the self-care things like a carrot at the end of the stick. An integral part of the process is giving yourself a chance to do things that make you happy and making sure that you stay mentally healthy.

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By: Anulekha Venkatram

Anulekha Venkatram is a Product Manager who enjoys partnering with professionals to build innovative products that solve customer problems. She is passionate about producing engaging content that fosters career-development and personal growth for millennial women. In her free time, she reads voraciously about technology trends and somehow finds time for grad school.

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