International Student Services (ISS)

Job Search Tips During COVID-19

Whether you are a current student or a new grad, you might be worried and confused about job searching during COVID-19 and asking yourself, “How can I search for a job during this uncertain time?” Here are some tips to help you develop your job search system, gain confidence and move towards your career goal.

Identify and research employers that are actively hiring

While the job market is experiencing layoffs, and many companies are shifting to remote work, employers, especially those in the essential service sectors, are actively hiring.

There are limited job opportunities in my sector, what should I do?

Consider volunteering. When you volunteer, you can develop skills, make connections and build your self-confidence. Find volunteer opportunities, both in-person and virtual, on Volunteer Connector

Conduct Informational Interview and Stay Connected

Informational interviews help you expand your network and possibly uncover potential opportunities. It also helps to collect information and resources that might support your job search. 

How can I conduct a successful informational interview? 

  • Research and find information about the organization/company and the person you plan to talk to and develop your script. 
  • Make initial contact (phone, email, or LinkedIn message), explain what you want and ask for about 10-15 minutes of their time.
  • Conduct the interview by phone or a video chat. Be on time, dress appropriately; take only as much time as you requested, thank the person at the end.
  • Follow up with a thank-you mail. 
  • Sample Questions to ask in an informational interview

Update resume, cover letter and LinkedIn Profile 

Highlight your remote work experience and your soft skills, including time management on your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn Profile. As many companies shift to remote work, hiring managers would expect candidates also to have the aptitude and experience. 

Mention specific video technologies you are experienced/familiar with, and add details on how you worked remotely. Don’t forget to mention relevant soft skills, such as time management, adaptability and written communication, to demonstrate that you can quickly adapt to different working environments while maintaining productivity and quality of work. 

What if I work in essential services?

Highlight your work schedule and location flexibility, mention your sense of health and safety, and emphasize your ability to follow guidelines.

Prepare yourself for a virtual interview

Because of travel restrictions and requirements on physical distancing, many employers shifted interviews online, using online platforms such as Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, WebEx, etc. In addition to preparing impressive examples and achievements, here are some tips to help you prepare and ace your virtual interview. 

  • Understand the platform you are using. Install the program to your computer and test with your friends before your interview day. Learn about different features and get yourself familiar with all the functions, such as how to mute, how to share screen, etc. Use a stable internet connection and check your audio setup.
  • Use a virtual backdrop setting if possible. This function allows you to block out things behind you and makes you look professional in the video. If the platform does not have this function, choose a plain white wall as a background; and proper lighting is also important. During your interview, remember to lock your door from your roommates, pets, toddlers or anyone that might distract you. 
  • Maintain a professional appearance. Dress professionally and act as you are in the interviewer’s office. 
  • Keep your notes handy on your screen. Remember, you can sneak a peek at other documents on your screen while focusing on the interviewers. That’s the advantage of a video interview. But remember, never read your notes, hiring managers will know it. 
  • Make eye contact with the camera, not your screen; this helps you build rapport with the interviewers. Stay focus, and attentive. 

Boost skills by taking online courses

Spend your free time to take some online courses to prepare yourself for professional development. There are free online resources that you might be of interest. Take this opportunity to add a few certifications to your profile. Some examples of online learning resources include:

Create your job search schedule 

It is a challenging time for everyone, including job seekers and employers. Be patient and acknowledge the current situation. While there are some things beyond our control, we can remain focused on what we can do right now. Create your schedule and follow-through, focus on your career development, but also pay attention to your mental health.

  • Set up goals, whether it’s daily, weekly or monthly. Focus on your efforts, not how many interviews you get. Examples “I will connect with five professionals every week on LinkedIn,” “I will schedule 1 informational interview every week”, “I will spend one hour on skill development through online learning every day.”
  • Review your progress regularly, recognize your efforts and reward yourself with a treat. It’s easy to lose confidence and feel frustrated in the process of job searching. Have a positive mindset and building confidence is essential. 
  • Don’t spend too much time searching online job boards. Focus more on networking and seeking referrals. 
  • Don’t hesitate to reach out for support. You can email Wendy Yu, International Student Advisor - Career Development for advice and support; the Career Centre also offers various resources to help you.