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Tips on searching for a job during a pandemic

Job seekers fill out applications at Suffolk County's

Job seekers fill out applications at Suffolk County's One-Stop Employment Center in 2018; the center can help during the COVID era, too.  Credit: Daniel Goodrich

With so many job seekers competing for a smaller number of openings, setting oneself up for success is paramount.

"You cannot have a run-of-the-mill resume from 10 years ago and simply update with your most recent job," said Rita Maniscalco, a Huntington-based career, life and business coach.

Jim Eddings, a career counselor with Suffolk County's One-Stop Employment Center in Hauppauge, said the current job market can be discouraging, but that "persistence and patience" are key.

They offered suggestions and tips on upping your chances of being noticed in a crowded playing field.

  • Remember that looking for work is a full-time job and that "it's important to set goals about what you want to do each day (and week)" during your search, Eddings said.
  • Make sure your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile work together to create a "brand" image of who you are as an employee, Maniscalco said.
  • List your skills and personal strengths up at the top of your resume as opposed to the bottom, Maniscalco said. "Hiring managers look at a resume for about 7 seconds before they decide to keep looking at it or not," she said.
  • For entry-level positions that don't require a specific skill set or any certifications or educational requirements, Eddings said to focus on selling yourself and your personality. "You have to win them over with how you present yourself."
  • Use social media, email lists and other online platforms to network with professionals and let family, friends and former co-workers know that you’re looking. "This is not the time to be shy," Maniscalco said.
  • Try to get the contact information for a company's hiring manager so you can call or email them directly. "If you can get the hiring manager's email and send them your resume directly, that can make you stand out," Eddings said.
  • Use any downtime to upgrade your skills through free or low-cost education options, Eddings said. "Review the job postings and see what they need. Are there specific computer skills that they're looking for?"
  • Have references or recommendations handy. "You can have recommendations on LinkedIn or have traditional letters of recommendation," Maniscalco said.
  • If you find yourself scheduled for a video interview, dress professionally and conduct the video call somewhere in your home that looks presentable and is quiet, Maniscalco said.
  • Do research on potential employers before you begin the application process, Eddings said.
  • To be connected to job search services, including local job boards, resume review services, mock interviews and more, visit Suffolk County's SCNYForward.info. You can also reach the One-Stop Employment Center at 631-853-6600 before 4 p.m.
  • Newsday has a list of additional resources at nwsdy.li/jobhelp22.

Even following these strategies is no guarantee of instant luck in the job market, especially during these unprecedented times. "You’re going to definitely have to apply for more jobs that normal," Eddings said.

That said, it’s important to maintain a level of confidence in your abilities.

"The job search process at any time is one that is fraught with stress," Maniscalco said. "But it’s very important to maintain a positive attitude. Believe in yourself and ... communicate that to the potential employers."

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