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By Latesha Byrd
April 15, 2020
Courtesy of Latesha Byrd

Latesha Byrd, a professional career coach and consultant, is answering reader questions about Coronavirus career anxiety. Got a question about your job search, interview, or anything else related to work? Email: [email protected]

This pandemic has impacted just about every company, and they’re all handling it differently.

Some companies are still hiring, and have shifted to a fully virtual interview process. Others have had to cut hiring or defer start dates for new employees.

So yes, you should totally reach out for confirmation — though it’s best to do so through a recruiter or a contact you already have at the company, rather than just cold emailing a random email address.

The main questions to ask are:

  1. Has COVID-19 slowed down the hiring process at all? If so, what is the expected timeline to fill the role?
  2. Will there be any major changes in the interview process?

Before you do any of that, though, check the company’s website and job boards to see if any recent jobs have been posted. You can also connect with company recruiters on LinkedIn — many are using the platform to post up-top-date hiring announcements.

The best thing you can do right now is to get active online. I’ve already seen an influx of virtual networking events, webinars, and conferences — in some ways, it’s actually easier to make professional connections and “attend” certain events these days.

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When SXSW got postponed, music executives held virtual panels in its place. The coding school Tech Talent South just launched a three-day “digital conference;” RemoteX is hosting a “Remote Design Week” later this month. And there are plenty of virtual career fairs and online women career & entrepreneurship summits scheduled throughout the spring.

This is also the time to optimize your online brand. Be intentional about the information you include on your LinkedIn profile — speak clearly to your accomplishments and expertise. Twitter is another great place for networking, since it allows you to share content and start conversations. Facebook has “Groups,” which are online communities you can tap into.

It’s good to keep a “networking inventory,” or a running list of all the people you know who can help you along in your professional journey, broken down by category (former employers, volunteer experiences, alumni network, etc.). Make it a goal to check in on everyone on your list by the end of the summer — you never know what doors they can help you open.

It’s definitely a weird time to launch a career, but tried and true job hunting advice still applies. Make a killer resume and LinkedIn profile, tap into your alumni base, and reach out to recruiters ASAP.

You should also get comfortable leaning on your campus’ career services. Many universities are still offering 1-on-1 coaching, webinars, and job search help.

Before you start interviewing, make sure to get some good salary intel for your industry—and the specific roles you’re applying for—on sites like Glassdoor and Payscale.

A big myth about salary negotiation is that hiring managers will be offended if you ask for more money than they offer you. This is a conversation, not a confrontation. Since you’re just starting out, be prepared to articulate how your academic experience and internships will add value to the organization.

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I’m so sorry to hear that you were laid off. So many jobs have been lost over the last few weeks — but hope is not.

Before you make any big decisions, talk to other professionals in your industry — in your case, HR professionals. Ask if they know of any companies hiring right now, and if the openings require a degree.

Keep in mind that years of professional experience may trump education. And there might be other options outside of pursuing a degree—like professional certifications, or online classes— that can make you a more attractive candidate.

As a career coach, I’m constantly reminding my clients to focus on what they have over what they don’t. What skills and experience sets you apart from the competition? Put together a “brag sheet,” or a list of the accomplishments you’re most proud of, and refer to it whenever you’re preparing for an interview, updating your resume, or in need of a confidence-booster. How did you set yourself apart in your last role? Did you lead a critical training program? Or create some brand-defining policies? Include key metrics that show exactly how effective you were at those tasks.

More from Money:

Here’s How to Make a Perfect Resume — and a Free Template You Can Use

What if the Coronavirus Makes Us Work From Home Forever?

Coronavirus and Unemployment: Everything You Need to Know

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