By Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck, Crosswalk.com
Most of us have never before encountered the stress and challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has brought into our lives. And if you are job hunting, it has been even more difficult. Many people have lost jobs, thus adding to the competition for open positions.
In the best of times conducting a job search can be daunting and draining, causing even the most resilient of us to feel anxious and depressed by a lack of job offers. As Christians, we know that God is good and is in control, but it is easy to feel beaten down after sending out many resumes without getting a response, or worse, hearing “Thanks for applying but we have hired someone else.”
During the holidays it can be easy to convince ourselves that no one is hiring. “I’ll just pick my job search back up after the New Year,” you may tell yourself. This is why January is the month with the highest number of active job hunters. However, while job hunters take a break over the holidays, employers do not! If an employer has needs now, they are not going to wait until January 2nd to hire someone.
Because so many people do take a holiday break, you have better odds of being hired while companies are receiving fewer applicants.
God knows about this pandemic and the difficulties that you may be facing in your job search. God already knows the next position that will be a good fit for you. Your job is to work in partnership with God to conduct an effective job search.
We can err on the side of waiting and praying for God to drop a job into our laps. We can also err on the side of applying for lots of jobs but not listening to God’s “still small voice” that may be guiding us to change our job search strategies or job targets. Below are tips for conducting an effective job search now during the holidays. The last tip identifies companies who are hiring remote workers now!
While you can’t control the decisions that an employer makes, there is a lot in your job search that you can control. Here are nine tips you can start using today:
1. Spend Time with God Each Day to Encourage Yourself with His promises for You
Here are just a few scripture verses that point us to God’s promises which are true even when we have received our 50th no after applying for a job. Memorize these verses and others, and then bring them to mind when you are discouraged.
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13)
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7)
2. Schedule Times and Goals Each Week to Work on Your Job Search
Use resources like JibberJobber.com to organize your job search. If you are currently working you may only be able to schedule 10 hours a week for your job search. If you are between jobs then it is good to schedule 30-40 hours a week for your job search.
3. Use the Best job Search Strategies
There are two different job markets: the advertised (or organized) job market and the hidden (or disorganized) job market. These strategies work well in this time of social distancing as they can be practiced using email, phone calls and platforms like Zoom. Most job hunters spend all of their time in the advertised job market, which is the most familiar one. It includes jobs that are found on Internet job boards such as Indeed.com, Glassdoor.com, LinkedIn.com and ZipRecruiter.com and Snagajob.com for hourly jobs.
For those seeking ministry jobs it includes job boards like the ones we oversee at ChristianCareerCenter.com, ChurchJobsOnline.com and PastorJobs.Net. The jobs are organized and readily accessible. It is the most popular job market because it is the easiest to access. Be sure to set up keyword alerts at the sites that are of interest so that when new jobs are posted that match your job target you will receive an email notification.
While approximately 95% of job hunters rely on the advertised job market to find employment, it is estimated that only 15-25% of the available jobs are represented here. As you can imagine, if you are only using the advertised job market your job search process is likely to be slower and more frustrating.
Not only is there only a small percentage of actual job openings listed, but you will find more intense competition because of the large number of job hunters who use the classified ads on the Internet and other sources. Some job hunters even give up their search for a particular job because they either see no openings in the classified ads for that type of work, or they get no response to the resumes they have sent.
The majority of jobs that are available at any given time are found in the so-called “hidden job market.” The jobs are hidden because they are filled without employers advertising them on Internet job sites. Finding these jobs requires a more proactive and strategic approach.
Job seekers find out about “hidden” job openings through developing personal contacts and contacting employers directly. This job market is more difficult to access but tends to yield much more fulfilling and rewarding work. Also, when you get into the hidden job market, you may find you are the only applicant for a great job!
Does this mean you should avoid using the advertised job market? Of course not! The advertised job market does contain about 15-25% of available job openings, and they are organized so that it is easier to find positions for which you qualify.
What it does mean, however, is that you should organize your job search work so that you are investing no more than 50% of your job search time in pursuing possibilities in the advertised job market, and 50% percent or more of your time using strategies to tap into the hidden job market. By dividing your job search time in this way, you will greatly increase your chances of finding employment quickly.
In several of the tips below, we provide specific holiday strategies for networking to find jobs in the hidden job market.
4. Make Sure That Your Resume Is Targeted for Each Job
Many organizations have reported receiving hundreds of resumes when they advertise openings; therefore, human resource staff and recruiters spend only 6-30 seconds skimming over the average resume. In that brief time, your resume will make either a positive or a negative impression on the employer.
These days, larger and even medium-sized companies also analyze resumes using automatic tracking systems (ATS) that scans for the needed skills or experiences. For your resume to be considered, it must "hit home" immediately by including the keywords for which the software has been programmed to search.
An excellent resume when applying for openings clearly states your qualifications (in descending order of importance) for the position for which you are applying. You will need to spend several hours thinking, writing and rewriting. There are no shortcuts to writing an excellent resume. Since at times it will form an employer's first impression of you, it must be an example of your best thought and effort. Here you will find more help with your resume.
5. View Holiday Events as a Venue for Finding Potential Job Leads
Even though many events may be canceled due to COVID-19, you still may have many opportunities to network with people during holiday phone calls and Zoom events.
You will avoid being offensive when you communicate a genuine interest in the person. As you're talking to people, you can ask them what they do. They'll probably ask you the same question in return. Describe your work background and career goals before mentioning that you are job hunting. Be prepared with a one-sentence description of the type of position you are seeking.
If a person doesn't offer a suggestion or contact, you can just casually hand them a personal business card with your contact information, and let them know you would appreciate them letting you know if they think of anyone. You can then ask them a question about themselves or go on to some other topic of conversation to communicate your goal wasn't just to pump them for a job lead.
6. Build Relationships with Your Professional Contacts
Touching base with your contacts-former co-workers, customers, clients, vendors and other business associates-to wish them a Merry Christmas (or whichever holiday greeting is appropriate for them) and let them know that you are still available. Remember that the purpose of these contacts is to build relationships, not to ask for a job or share your job-hunting woes.
7. Reconnect with Prospective Employers
Send Christmas or holiday cards with your personal business card enclosed to managers with whom you've recently interviewed. Write a personal note of greeting; mention something you enjoyed about meeting the person.
8. Volunteer to Provide Help and Make Connections
Many organizations need volunteers during the holidays. If you are interested in working for a particular church or nonprofit organization, volunteering is a great way to get an "inside look" at the organization and to meet people who work there. You can also look for volunteer positions which will allow you to meet many business people in your community or industry. Other benefits of volunteering are that it gets you out of the house and connects you with other people; helps lift your spirits if you're feeling down about your job situation; and gives you the satisfaction and joy that comes from helping others.
9. Find Remote Seasonal Job Opportunities
As we have discussed there are many companies that have needs and will be hiring during the holiday season. Here are 13 companies that are hiring for seasonal jobs that you can do remotely from home.
So, don't take a vacation from your job hunt during the holidays! Schedule at least one job search activity each day. Employers value proactive people who stay focused and optimistic and help others as well as asking for assistance along the way. Remember also that you are not alone in this Christmas season, embrace anew that God loves you and that with Him, "nothing is impossible" (Luke 1:37).
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