The veteran population faces employment challenges without the Coronavirus, but how should they approach the job hunt now, with so much uncertainty in the world due to COVID-19? There are many things outside of our individual control, but if you are on the job hunt, this is not the right time to hit the brakes. It’s time to step on the gas and keep refining your skills, virtually networking, and staying engaged.
Over the last few weeks, hiring has slowed down in some sectors, while other sectors are seeing steep increases. There are still many industries that are hiring during these uncertain times, including the healthcare industry, grocery chains and online retailers. Some of these companies include UPS, CVS, Amazon, Costco and Walmart.
I polled my staff of employment analysts and vocational rehabilitation counselors to get their top job-hunting tips for veterans and their families. There was a consensus that hope MUST remain high, and that everyone must stay dedicated to the job search. Their topics are broken down into a few different groups: Education, Networking, Schedule and Organization, and Flexibility.
One of the best things that you can do right now is learn something new. Most of us are stuck at home, so it’s important to spend your extra time in a productive way. This can take a variety of different forms and it should be focused on your own personal development. You can join a PAVE Connect session to get some timely and relevant career information. Or if you have access to the internet, now is a great time to take some classes to refresh any areas of weakness. Some online courses to start with include Excel, budgeting and finance, project management, Power Point, and more. It’s important to check out websites like edX, or Coursera. LinkedIn Learning also offers a lot of great options.
This can also be a great time to start thinking about higher education. Spend time doing research about schools and programs that interest you and learn what you need to do to earn an Associate’s, Bachelor’s or Master’s degree.
With many people working from home, this is a great time to engage and network. Reach out to your LinkedIn connections to build a stronger relationship and see if you can set up an informational interview with them. Ask them about their transition, what they like and don’t like about the industry or field they chose, and if they mind connecting you with other people for career advice. Keep the tone professional and remember this is informational - if you start the conversation asking for a job, it may be a big turn-off.
CREATE A SCHEDULE AND STAY ORGANIZED:
When things outside of your control are uncertain, it becomes increasingly more important to create a schedule and stay organized. One way to do this is to set aside time every day for important job-related activities. With all of the unknowns around the coronavirus, it is vital that veterans stay diligent about their job search. Use this time to perfect the things that you can control. Work on your resume, cover letters and LinkedIn profile. Make sure that they are up to date, there are no typos or grammatical errors and all the information is correct.
With some industries slowing down hiring, it is essential that job seekers be flexible. One way to be flexible is to open up your job search and be willing to take a job that doesn’t match your immediate interests. If money is a concern and it’s important to take any job, look into jobs at places that are currently hiring. This does not have to be your forever job, but it can fill the employment gap until you are able to find a job with an employer that is a better fit. It is also worth looking for temporary virtual jobs at companies that need extra help during the COVID-19 crisis. This can provide you with some supplemental income and has the possibility to turn into full-time after.
It is also important to be open to different types of interviews including via phone and video. Phone and video interviews are a good chance to share with employers that you’re able to work from home. You should note your experience using online communication tools like GoToMeeting, Zoom, or Google Hangouts.
Although we’re uncertain about what will transpire over the next few months, it’s imperative that members of the veteran community stay vigilant. It is important that you choose hope over fear and continue to pursue careers. Since many of us are unable to leave our homes there is more time to focus on the job search. If you use this time well and follow these tips, you will be more equipped to come out of these uncertain times with confidence and direction for your career.
Please reach out to Paralyzed Veterans of America’s PAVE team if you have any questions or need any support. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We also have a lot of resources online such as a transformation toolkit and interactive virtual engagement sessions. Please check out www.PVA.org/PAVE for more information.