Job Searching During Covid-19? A Career Specialist Offers His Advice

In this article, I'll address some of the core concerns from our students and graduates about job searching during Covid-19—and outline some tips and tricks to help you navigate your job search during this period of economic uncertainty.

by Mike McCulloch on 17 May 2021

A tech employee works remotely on her laptop sitting outside a cafe, with a drink beside them

As the Head of Career Services at CareerFoundry, there are some questions I find myself being asked repeatedly amid the global pandemic. “Are companies still hiring?” “Will I still be able to work remotely after this?” “Should I still apply for jobs, or should I wait until this is all over?” “Can CareerFoundry really continue to offer the job guarantee?”

These have been devastating and unusual times, and the reality is that the global pandemic is still radically altering both the economy and the job search process. In some industries, jobs have been radically reduced—or have even disappeared. Many companies face the pressure to adapt their operations to the realities of social distancing, as well as support other companies in their own quest for survival in the new economy. 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, CareerFoundry is here to help. Here, I’ll answer some of the most common questions we get from students and graduates about job searching during the Covid-19 pandemic. I’ll also offer up some tips and tricks to help you remain adaptable, proactive, and prepared in your upcoming job search.

How is Covid-19 affecting the job market in the fields of UX, UI, web development, and data analytics? 

While some companies may have initially scaled back their hiring while they take stock of their market position, many of the fields mentioned above are relatively stable—and have already resumed hiring in order to continue growing. In the early days of the pandemic, I predicted that as companies adapted, we would see a heightened demand for UX and UI designers, web developers, and data analysts—all those skilled professionals who can support companies in rolling out new software across a range of sectors. As the months have gone on, this has largely proven to be the case. 

Certain industries have weathered the storm better than others, and some companies are even thriving in the current climate. Let’s look more closely at some of the sectors that continue to offer an abundance of opportunities:

Healthcare and health services

Products related to telemedicine and clinical assessment tools, as well as basic research and development in healthcare, need to be developed—perhaps more so now than ever. To get into this field, we recommend researching local companies and organizations which deal with health informatics, electronic medical records, patient care, clinical assessment, and diagnostic tools. Likewise, personal health and wellness apps are experiencing a boom as more people look for ways to stay fit at home. Though this trend may dip slightly as reopening continues, growth is set to remain steady.

Home delivery and logistics services

As social distancing has become an ongoing reality for many people, especially those with heightened risks for adverse outcomes from coronavirus, the home delivery and logistics industry is facing a critical need to design and roll out innovative solutions. The customer base will need to be presented with easy to use and accessible options to get products and services provided at home. Look into companies already offering delivery services through a digital interface, as well as newcomers intent on catering to targeted segments of the population.

Online education and remote learning

During this outbreak, it’s become apparent that education will increasingly need to be delivered in an accessible online format. Traditional educational institutions will need to create ways of offering quality education to students remotely. Likewise, corporate training providers will need to offer remote options, and existing skills training and upgrading companies will need to adapt their products to cope with increased demand. Take advantage of the experience of learning remotely, as you could then in turn help companies and institutions in creating the tools and products which their clients will be demanding. 

Digital media and entertainment companies 

Even though the pandemic Netflix boom is waning, digital media and entertainment companies will continue to look for new ways to bring their services to even more people. Applications and products designed to help people connect while practicing social distancing continue to be in higher demand.

Software and applications that support remote working

As we continue to see an increase in remote opportunities, be on the lookout for companies building tools to remotely support distance learning, team collaboration, and information sharing. 

On top of remote working gaining popularity due to the pandemic, so too has there been growth in automation across a whole swathe of industries. In fact, a July 2020 survey of 800 senior executives showed that two thirds were increasing their investment in AI and automation. This will come as good news for web developers and data analysts, who should start to see more and more opportunities to work in this area.

Will I be able to continue working from home after the pandemic?

Let’s face it—remote working has been the major factor for a lot of companies in the past year. Study after study has shown that the majority of people would be keen to retain the flexibility, family time, and shorter commutes in the future. Many top companies have openly embraced a permanent home office setup, but what’s becoming more popular is a compromise—hybrid working. Simply put, this is where employees are only required to come into the office two or three days a week, working remotely the rest of the time. This concept has been openly adopted by a large amount of firms including Google, Microsoft, and Facebook.

From health and safety concerns to quality of life, there are many reasons why you may not be so keen to go back to a job that makes you work in an office. Already, however, we are seeing a large amount of employees being encouraged back into workplaces as the pandemic recedes. So what kinds of jobs could enable you to possibly avoid this?

Another study into remote work estimates that over half the workforce will not be able to work remotely. Those that will be able to expect to work fully remote in the future are “highly skilled, highly educated workers”. The analysis highlighted that roles which involved interacting with computers as well as processing and analyzing information were most likely to spend the most time working remotely. It’s clear to see then that UX and UI design, data analysis, and web development will continue to enable workers to work remotely in the future, should you so wish.

Can CareerFoundry still “guarantee” its students a job in the current situation (and future), and how?

CareerFoundry’s Job Guarantee is based on the best practices we know help students get jobs, regardless of the economy. To be successful in a global recession, it’s true you need to be even more on the ball than you normally would—but we truly believe that armed with the right attitude and support, you can find a job in any economic climate. 

Whether it’s for a remote position, freelancing, or an on-site role, job seekers will need to be proactive in demonstrating value to potential colleagues and employer/client(s) in order to succeed. 

Below, we’ve outlined some tips to help you along the way. 

Focus on personal branding 

The first interaction an employer or client has with you is through your resume, cover letter, and portfolio. For employers to get a real sense of what you bring to the table, you have to showcase the very best of what you can do. They don’t have time to try to figure it out—your value needs to be clearly defined in the portfolio or resume that you send them. 

Tailor your application to the role

When applying for a job, focus on meeting the company’s needs. Job searching is about demonstrating unique value, rather than blending in with the crowd. As many remote positions are more word of mouth than location-dependent, networking with remote workers is a good strategy. Check job boards like Remotive.io or weworkremotely.com, and seek out listings on remote-only company websites.

Use your experience with CareerFoundry to set yourself apart

Companies are hiring in the midst of a pandemic which requires people to work from home. When searching for jobs, it’s essential to emphasize that you’re already very familiar with remote work. Throughout your CareerFoundry program, you’ll have studied independently, collaborated with various stakeholders entirely remotely, and learned how to receive (and act on) feedback remotely. Simply by completing the program, you’ve proven that you are able to direct your own growth—you don’t need someone in the room, standing over you, to ensure you get things done. These are exactly the qualities that employers are looking for right now! CareerFoundry graduates are better equipped than most to succeed in a remote working environment, so be sure to drive this point home in your applications. 

Use your “newcomer” status to your advantage

There’s no denying that competition for jobs is especially fierce right now. Many companies had to downsize or furlough employees as a short-term response to the pandemic, which can mean that industry newcomers are competing with more experienced professionals for entry-level jobs. So what can you do? The key here is to recognize, and convey, the unique value that you bring as a newcomer to the field. Unlike mid-level or senior designers, developers, and analysts, you’ll be coming in with a “clean slate.” You haven’t worked in the industry before, so you’re not as jaded or creatively restricted by assumptions or preconceptions. You’ll ask different kinds of questions and bring fresh ideas. Ultimately, this is what helps companies to grow and innovate, and that’s the value you need to convey when you’re up against more seasoned job-seekers.

Target the right companies

As previously mentioned, certain sectors are flourishing in the current climate while others are struggling. It therefore makes sense to focus your job search on companies who are doing well. And, I can’t emphasize this enough, make sure you tailor your application to each individual company. Identify the specific needs and goals that are unique to them, and explain what value you would bring. Nothing excites an employer more than an application from someone who is genuinely invested in working for them. Convey that as much as possible.

Don’t give up!

Just because we’re all getting used to working remotely, doesn’t mean your job search needs to be put on hold! Remain proactive by regularly reaching out to your contacts and checking in on how they’re doing. Ask them their opinion on how their business or industry is going to adapt and get their feedback on current job search strategies, portfolio, and goals. Be sure to keep your skills sharp and your portfolio up to date by coming up with cool projects to work on. Don’t give up—you never know where the next opportunity will come from!

A career advisor sitting at a desk wearing headphones, looking at a computer screen

Considering the circumstances, do you plan to keep the Job Guarantee as it is?

We will keep the Job Guarantee. We believe in the quality of our courses and programs, and we believe they will enable our graduates to start new careers. There’s no denying that the job search process is more competitive now than it was six months ago, but we’re committed to continuing to support our graduates throughout their job hunting journeys. In short, we’ll be with you every step of the way.

Let’s have a quick refresh of some of the core elements of the job guarantee:

  • Students must apply to a minimum of five job applications per week. These must be complete job applications, with custom cover letters and resumes. 
  • Students must have uploaded their completed portfolio pieces from their program as case studies on a customized portfolio site. 
  • Students must maintain regular contact with their career specialists. This means bi-weekly check-ins, ideally in the form of a call or email outlining how things are going. 

Final thoughts

For many, job searching is already a highly anxiety-inducing affair—and with the uncertainty of the global pandemic continuing to exacerbate our collective fears about the future, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed by the task ahead of you. If there’s one thing to take away, it’s that you’re not alone. Your career specialist is there to put your fears at ease, and break down what may feel like a mountainous process into smaller, more manageable steps. Between your mentor, your career specialist, and the wider CareerFoundry community on Slack, Facebook, and LinkedIn, support is always only a quick message away. 

Keep the communication fluid, set regular goals, and we’ll do everything in our power to help you get there. 

by Mike McCulloch on 17 May 2021

About the author

Mike McCulloch

Mike has been a career coach and facilitator for over 20 years. He works with our Career Services Team to ensure students have the best resources and support available in their job search.

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