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Tips for Job Hunting During a Pandemic

Job Hunting during a pandemic
(Image credit: Getty Images)

This year has delivered significant challenges for many of us, both personally and professionally—the COVID-19 pandemic has us all scrambling to reinvent ourselves and our industry. I hope all of us will find ourselves stronger and better as a result of those reinventions.

One thing I would love to see moving forward is an expectation of employment growth. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently 12.6 million people unemployed. For the AV industry, AVIXA’s Pro AV Employment Index has shown some improvement. As of November, it ticked up 3.4 points to 50.8. Payrolls were flat but showing improvement. I, for one, am excited to see that growth for our industry.

In early October, I found myself in a spot I have never been in before: out of work. Ever the over-achiever, that was a bit of a blow to my ego and my life in general. I reacted immediately by updating my work status on LinkedIn and Twitter, where I was delightfully overwhelmed by an outpouring of kind responses. It was humbling, and I appreciated all of the notes and offers of assistance to help me make my next career move. As I write this, I have submitted over 100 applications and have had dozens of interviews. To date, though, no offers.

AV Job Resources

AV Job Match

#AVTweeps got together and created a free job listing site, avjobmatch.com. If you’re in the market for a new role, be sure to list yourself on the site. And if you are an employer with a job opening, it’s also free to create a listing!

Like many, I find myself struggling to find work. I’d submit an application, and watch it sink into the abyss. I took some classes for advice about how to enhance my resume and LinkedIn profile to optimize my chances of landing my next role. I tried all the tips and techniques I’d learned. But more than that, I found myself tapping into my connections to help get my application and resume noticed by hiring managers, which has worked far better than just submitting an application. When I was able to connect with someone, I got a better response and was more likely to get an interview. It’s a blessing to have pro AV connections who were willing to connect me with hiring managers. In my journey, this has been the biggest contributing factor in securing an interview.

Those connections got me in, but it was up to me to show those hiring managers my expertise and capabilities. I find it exceedingly difficult to toot my own horn—I feel like I’m bragging, and that’s not comfortable. Interview prep is key to ensuring you’re able to sell yourself without feeling awkward.

My pre-interview plan has several parts. First, I connect with the hiring manager and try to learn a bit more about them, finding common ground or connections.

Second, I do a thorough review of the job description and highlight my areas of expertise, jotting down notes on how I’ve been successful with similar tasks in a previous position. Having a few great talking points prepared in advance helps to alleviate the feeling of being a braggart. Doing so allowed me to be much more comfortable in the interview and feel more successful at the end of the day.

Additionally, I like to prepare a few questions to ask the hiring managers. Inevitably in an interview they will ask you if you have questions about the position or company, and you should always be prepared with a list of relevant inquiries. By doing so, you’re building a rapport and showing interest in learning more about the company, its culture, and its goals for the future.

And because we’re #AVTweeps, we can’t forget the importance of the technology used during a virtual interview. Be prepared by installing the latest version of Zoom, Teams, Hangouts, etc. prior to your interview. Test your technology by getting on the call a few minutes early to avoid any last-minute hiccups getting connected. I like using a background image while on these calls—try to choose something professional looking and not too cluttered. If you aren’t using a background, be sure to arrange your space with some tasteful art or furniture, and some personal effects organized in the background can add personality, as well as offer talking points.

Consider elevating your monitor to a flattering height in line with your vision. And don’t forget to address your lighting situation. One of my favorite pandemic investments has been a ring light on a tripod—it helps bring the light in from a flattering angle. Natural light is the next best option, but avoid being backlit, as the effect can make it hard for the interviewer to see your face.

That works for video, but what about audio? There’s nothing worse than poor audio or an echo when in an interview. You can easily solve this problem by using headphones with an attached microphone; a 1080p webcam with built-in audio could also work. Call a friend and test your sound out ahead of time, especially if you are using new equipment.

This next tip may not seem important to some, but for me, showing up in professional attire—as I would for an in-person interview—makes me feel prepared and confident. Whatever your go-to outfit is, make sure it’s something that is comfortable and business casual, unless otherwise indicated.

This point should go without saying, but it needs to be said: ensure you are scheduling your interview during a time when you can focus. With spouses sharing spaces, children attending virtual school, and dogs barking at the Amazon deliveries, the “new normal” is full of interruptions and distractions. Choose a quiet space that can help minimize home chaos so you can keep your eyes on the prize.

Finally, don’t forget to follow up after the interview. Thank your host for their time, and if you have any additional questions, this is a good time to pose them. Use the notes you took during the interview to reiterate key points and why you’d be a good fit.

For those of you on the hunt for your next role, I wish you the best of luck. I hope these tips and tricks are useful and help you land your dream job.