Looking for a new job can get stressful, and it can be even more overwhelming to try to figure out how to get a job during a global pandemic. At the end of March 2020, 7.1 million people were out of work in the U.S. alone after the highest monthly increase in unemployment there in 45 years. And the United Nations International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that the equivalent of 195 million full-time jobs could be lost worldwide in just the second quarter of 2020.That said, this article is NOT about scaring you—it’s about helping you see a path forward for your career.
First and foremost, know that you’re not alone. Every one of us is affected by the situation happening now, though it’s hitting some harder than others. If you find yourself in a difficult position, it’s absolutely not your fault, and you have zero explaining to do.
Second and also very importantly, there is plenty of hope. While the unemployment numbers are up, some industries are busier than ever, which means there are companies hiring now (yes, now!). So, it’s totally possible to get hired during the crisis.
But how can YOU get a job fast? Well, for starters you will have to take your job search online. And now more than ever it is important to have (or learn) the technical skills you need to get the top jobs. In this article, we’ll spell out how to find work remotely and make sure you’re qualified to do it. We’ll cover:
What the most in-demand jobs are now
You know from your own day-to-day life that “business as usual” has been anything but usual lately. With almost everyone needing to stay home, many companies and organizations have been forced to shut down, temporarily or permanently.
But Katharine Zaleski, Co-founder and President of PowerToFly, a recruiting and hiring platform for women in tech, points out, “There’s the case after case of companies who’ve actually seen these terrible moments in history as also opportunities to focus on research and development and technology.”
So, many industries, like cybersecurity, insurance, healthcare, business services, online education, and digital entertainment, are still going strong or even stronger than before. And they’re also still hiring. In fact, Brie Weiler Reynolds, Career Development Manager and career coach at remote and flexible job employment service FlexJobs, reports that they actually saw a four percent increase in remote job listings from February to March this year. And the more good news? Since technology is key for many of these recession-proof companies, the roles they’re looking to fill are often ones you can land if you have digital skills.
In other words, companies still need their websites and apps to be built, developed, and maintained — so front end developers, WordPress developers, web designers, and UX designers still have plenty to do. Software, website backends, mobile apps, databases, and algorithms still need to be built, tested, and maintained and data collected, modeled, and analyzed — meaning Python developers, for example, are still in demand. And, more than ever, in tight economic times, brands need to be promoted. For that reason, visual designers and digital marketers can find work too.
But don’t worry if your background or interests don’t neatly fit into one of these areas. Another option for in-demand jobs is tech-adjacent roles. For example, Weiler notes that customer service roles are particularly top jobs in demand now, especially as more businesses move to online support. And keep in mind that tech adjacent roles like operations or admin are also necessary to keep companies running, especially during exceptional and hectic times. Add to any of these most needed jobs some technical skills (think customer service manager who can fix typos on the company’s sales page or project manager who understands the GitHub issues her team is dealing with) and you’re more likely to catch the eye of a hiring manager.
And remember—Just like you shouldn’t expect to be living your best life during a global pandemic, you don’t have to land your absolute dream job while the world is in crisis. Your goal is simple: find a job. Of course, you should make sure your new employer is legit and will pay and treat you fairly. But stay open-minded and consider roles which might be more of a “bridge job” between your past experience and what you’re hoping will someday be your “forever job”.
Bonus tip: Stay flexible when it comes to the type of work you’re looking for too. In this economic situation, companies might be more eager to hire for a part-time, contract, or temporary roles. So you can look for or offer to take on that kind of work to up your chances of getting hired.
And, if you’ve always dreamed of working remotely, the majority of jobs right now are remote, despite the fact that they weren’t a few weeks ago. As Zelenski says, “I think this presents a tremendous opportunity for women” who can’t or don’t want to live in large cities or tech hubs. I’m starting to see where positions are now opening up for women especially that were never open to them before.”
So take this chance to learn how to work remotely. And Caro brings up, if you need to go back to an office later, you’ll be able to say “I did it [working remotely] successfully 5 days a week during a global pandemic when we were all freaking out! So, really you should let me work from home, at least on Fridays.”
How to get a job in the current job market
Now that you know about the jobs in high demand, your next question is probably where can you find them? Well, you don’t need to go far.
Remote work was already fast-growing, but the coronavirus pushed it into high gear. Still, Weiler Reynolds brings up the fact that, at the moment, you might find a job more easily with companies that were already operating remotely before the crisis started. “We find that the companies that are most likely to still be hiring right now and are pretty active are the ones that already had pretty strong remote work programs before. So, they haven’t had to do a ton of rearranging or restructuring to get set up in a remote environment. So, if people, at least right now or maybe for the next few weeks or even the next month, can focus on those companies where they have had remote work programs for a while, they might get a faster response.“
But what are the best sites for finding remote work? Technology consulting firm hatch I.T. has also noticed companies and recruiters using more “creative” places to post jobs, like Reddit, Slack, Gitter, and Discord. But, since so many jobs have to be done remotely now, you can be sure to come across plenty of them on remote jobs boards too. We keep an updated list of our favorite remote job boards in our blog post The 25+ Best Sites for Finding Remote Work Online. The article also includes a hot-off-the-virtual-presses list of places you can get a job during the pandemic, and you can take a look at these too:
150+ Remote Startups Hiring in April 2020 (by Remotive.io)
28 Companies Still Hiring During COVID-19 (by PowerToFly)
Companies Hiring during Coronavirus (by The Muse)
Companies Hiring Support Professionals (by Assembled)
Coronavirus Job Resources (by Indeed)
Startups Actively Hiring during COVID-19 (by Jai Sajnani at New Enterprise Associates)
Talent Connect (by Torch Capital)
Still Hiring (by Hamza Khchichine)
Hiring Freezes (by Candor)
WFH But Hiring (by Free Agency)
Remote Work Jobs Portal (by Remote Work Summit)
Creative Community x COVID (by Becky Simpson)
The Corona Hiring Sheet (by Florian Feichtinger & Paula Monteiro)
And, just like with specific roles, don’t assume that a company isn’t hiring because you don’t see a job listing from them. They might officially have to recruit on hold but still be interested if you’re a great applicant. Or they may be hiring as soon as they see how the crisis might affect them or when it’s gone by. In any case, you can get your name on their radar now, and they might be thrilled to have you on their team once they’re hiring again. Just be sure to be sensitive to the current situation as you interact with the hiring manager.
Freelancing is Working Too
And remember, you don’t need to get a full-time remote job to be earning income during the crisis. Maybe now is the time that you go freelance. You can make money even with “minimal” tech skills like HTML and CSS. As Skillcrush founder and CEO Adda Birnir says, you don’t need to be a pro to get a freelance gig, “you just need to know how to do something that someone else doesn’t know how to do.”— like formatting someone’s resume or building a simple website.
As our Director of Operations here at Skillcrush, Caro Griffin, will remind you about many freelance clients, “They’re hiring so they don’t have to do it.” So, reach out virtually to your friend who you know needs a resume refresh or your neighbor who is scrambling to set up a site for her bakery that’s now doing home delivery.
Bonus tip: If you’re looking for a posted role, try Caro’s favorite job search power-up. Instead of just googling for a certain job title, get super-targeted results by searching for [location]+[industry]+job board. (For example: remote digital marketing job board) And you can find more remote job listings by changing the word “remote” in your search to one of these 19 ways to say work from home from FlexJobs.
How the hiring process is changing
Before you start your job search, take a minute to get to know the changes happening in hiring so you know how to get a job online during the recession.
Just like jobs have gone remote, so has the hiring process. Zelenski says “Look at this as an opportunity to be able to find a role that might not have been available before because so many companies are changing how they hire and where they hire.”
One way it’s changing is that you obviously can’t network in person. Instead of making contacts irl, you can connect with people in your industry by joining LinkedIn groups or Facebook Groups, by interacting with them or following related hashtags on Twitter, by commenting on their work on sites like GitHub or Dribbble, by becoming part of Slack communities for your areas of interest, or by attending virtual job fairs or attending some of the many meetups, conferences, or professional events that are now being held online.
Interviewing for Jobs Remotely
Job interviews will all be online now, too, of course. Before you go out and catch the attention of hiring managers worldwide, start prepping for remote job interviews, which—you guessed it!—will almost definitely be done virtually. Weiler Reynolds has seen companies move more towards video interviews (instead of just phone) for that “added layer of getting to know somebody” so she recommends you get to know the video conferencing tools (like Zoom or Google Hangouts) that will be used, test out your equipment, and get yourself and your surroundings set to make a put-together and professional impression. If you want to be extra-confident, do some practice with a friend and think through your answers to the most common tech (and remote) job interview questions.
Bonus tip: To be truly ready for a work from home job, get the full picture from our free Remote Work Mega Guide. It’ll fill you in on everything from making a smooth transition to online work to the tools you need to be successful remotely and advice for work at home parents.
How to get a job during an economic crisis
Emphasize remote work experience on your resume
Once you find a position you’d love to land, you need to make sure your application materials are digitally up-to-date. When it comes to your resume, besides the always important tips to update, proofread, and tailor it to the role, for best results with online hiring. Weiler Reynolds also says you should emphasize any background you have working virtually, whether it was on a fully remote team, taking an online course, or collaborating from your office with teammates in another location. And you can find even more top tips in our free Ultimate Guide to the Perfect Resume.
Polish your online presence
To best position yourself for being hired, spend some time creating a consistent online presence. In Caro’s opinion, this is the secret to how to get a job. You don’t have to be a social media maven spending all day posting and curating your sites. But do refresh your LinkedIn profile, come up with a compelling online portfolio or about me site, and make the social media accounts you do use consistent and professional.
Wondering what kind of online presence you should present? It’s simple: Be yourself. Of course there are things you might want to keep private, and you don’t even have to share much of your personal life. But feel free to talk about your hobbies, interests, and passions. By letting your whole self shine, you’ll stick in a hiring manager’s mind for both your professional prowess and your personality.
Nail your cover email
Making it easy to see that you’re a great fit for a job continues with a cover email (formerly known as the cover letter). As a hiring manager myself, I can’t emphasize enough how a cover email (or the free-form “Tell us about yourself” section of some online applications) can make or break your chances of being chosen for an interview. We’ve got you covered (pun intended!) here with our free Ultimate Guide to the Perfect Email Cover Letter that has the full rundown on how to make yours a hit.
But TLDR; go for a short, specific, tone-appropriate email that tells who you are in a memorable and unique way, what you’ve done that’s relevant to the role, why you’re the best candidate, and where they can learn more about you online.
Bonus tip: Caro is so passionate about what a difference your online persona can make that she’s writing a whole guide on how to update your web presence to get hired. So, keep your eye out for this treasure trove of tips here on our blog!
What tech skills you need to get hired
If your question is how to get a job in tech, the answer is much more straightforward than you might imagine: Learn foundational tech skills. You don’t need to be a rockstar developer or a guru designer to make money in tech. Basic skills can be learned in just a few short weeks, and, as Adda says, “It’s really not about taking months and months and months to learn tech skills and then you can start to make money. You can really start to make money right away.”
Learn HTML & CSS
Here at Skillcrush we recommend first learning HTML and CSS. These building blocks of the web will let you do everything from creating digital newsletters and marketing landing pages to customizing SquareSpace pages or tweaking the back-end of WordPress sites. Add to that Git and GitHub and some design fundamentals and you can collaborate on tech projects and make digital products look great.
Learn Next-Level Technical Skills
Our students at Skillcrush have shown over and over that it’s possible for you to go from newbie to your first tech job. For example, Sarah went from homeschooling parent to self-employed web developer, Bee from educational aide to designer and developer, Nathalia from office manager to digital marketer, and Amanda from architect to UX designer.
Other Skillcrush students have gotten these jobs (and more): lead visual designer, HTML email developer, UX research assistant, associate salesforce administrator, front end developer, ruby on rails developer, content strategist, project Manager, front end engineer, technology instructor, WordPress developer, and the list goes on
Bonus tip: Read more Skillcrush student stories and successes to see where you can go with tech skills. And start learning those skills and getting the inside scoop about tech careers in our free Coding Camp.
What to do if you need to get a job fast but don’t have the right experience
Reframe your experience
The “need experience to get experience” phenomena can feel like a fight you can’t win. But Weiler Reynolds shares positive news that there are entry level through senior level positions available now. And, years of experience in job postings often don’t mean literal years of experience. Instead, they mean the equivalent skills that you would get from working full-time for those years. So, you might have gained those skills working part-time, freelancing, doing your own projects, or even studying. The point is to show (in your portfolio, for example) that you have the skills and emphasize it in your cover email and resume so the hiring manager can clearly see that.
Show you understand what the job entails (and are prepared to do it)
Another way to combat an experience mismatch is to show (again in your cover email and resume plus your portfolio if possible—client testimonials or supervisor’s references are great for this) that you understand what all is involved in doing this work. As Caro says, it’s key that “You know how to show up!” Or, as Adda says, “You know what the heck it is to work.” And Weiler Reynolds says it’s definitely worth highlighting the specific skills that can make you a good remote worker, like communication, focus, self-management, and tech savvy with remote work tools like collaboration software, document sharing, chat tools, etc.
Even if you don’t feel like you meet all the requirements for a job, you can still apply. Adda says, “The best thing you can do is embrace rejection and see it as practice. I really encourage you to put yourself out there. The biggest mistake I see students make time and time again is that they wait too long.”
She continues, “You don’t know if you don’t ask. Better that you take a risk because really there’s no downside right now. I mean, what’s the downside? That you don’t get the job? Guess what? If you’re looking for work or you’re out of work, you don’t have a job.”
Start getting the experience you need now
And, you can build your experience now so that you’re ready for future roles. You can freelance or do contract work, which will also help you keep earning. But, if you have time for a side gig or if you’re unemployed now, you can even do unpaid “client” work for friends and family (no one needs to know!), open-source projects, personal projects (they show your passion!), internships, or hackathons.
Bonus tip: You can find a silver lining in COVID-19 by getting experience while giving back to your community or the world by working on volunteer projects or in unpaid roles for companies, charities, or other organizations using tech to help during this global crisis. And Zelenski is also a believer in the possibilities that pro bono work can bring you, saying, “People need doers like crazy right now.”
Weiler Reynolds insists that “It’s a very normal part of the process to not hear back from an employer [right away].” She explains that the hiring process may take a bit longer for companies with everything happening in the world nowadays, but that there are plenty of jobs available. So follow her advice to “Keep going everyday. Set yourself up with a job search plan, a certain number of things everyday, and just keep at it.”
And Zelenski urges looking forward: “Start to build a macro vision of where you’re going to be in five years or ten years. You don’t need in-depth experience for that. What you need is an insatiable curiosity.”
And she concludes with these hopeful messages: “In many ways, the playing field has been changed dramatically. There’s tremendous opportunities to go in and remake things.” “What keeps me going every morning is knowing that, if we hire more diverse women, the country will grow back stronger faster.”
Learn more about FlexJobs, the leading job search site specializing in the best remote, part-time, freelance, and flexible jobs available, here.
Learn more about PowerToFly, a global community dedicated to diversity, inclusion, and transparency at work via virtual events and remote jobs, here.