Whether you’re a soon-to-be college graduate or a worker laid off because of COVID-19, searching for a job during a pandemic and increasing unemployment was not in your career plan. Here are some steps you can take to make yourself relevant.



Leverage your downtime

Binging on pandemic news is tempting. Most of us are tracking the daily press conferences, new cases, and best advice to protect ourselves from getting sick. Take a break from the 24-7 news cycle and increase your skills.

Check out career-related podcasts and free online classes. For example, Career Tools is a top-rate podcast for jobseeker. Through Class Central, you can take free online classes offered by Ivy league colleges and universities.

Become a boss at working from home

Working from home is here to stay. More than 5 million people in the United States work from home at least half time—that’s 3.6 percent of the total workforce and up 173 percent since 2005, according to Global Workplace Analytics. Based on COVID-19 events and reactions, 25 to 30 percent of the American workforce are likely to work from home multiple days per week within the next two years, Global Workplace Analytics predicted.

So, get comfortable, or better yet, proficient, at using telecom tools such as Skype, Zoom, and Google Hangouts.

Look for new opportunities, even unpaid gigs

Not getting any interviews because of a lack of experience? If you need experience in a certain area, be open to flexible jobs, interning, and volunteering as well as paid or even free consulting.

You don’t necessarily have to mention on your resume that you worked for free or for less than industry standard pay.

Don’t let social media torpedo your job search

People are spending lots more time online these days—on LinkedIn and Facebook and other social media. People are on edge, worried about loved ones who are sick or at risk of being sick. People are bored. People have strong feelings, pro and con, about social distancing, stay at home orders, and other pandemic-related restrictions and frustrations.

Having strong feelings during the pandemic is understandable. Attacking other people, even internet trolls, is not fine. You’re unlikely to change someone’s mind, and you might eliminate a job possibility.

One friend of a friend lost current and future work when she overreacted to an admittedly insensitive social media post. The original poster made it clear he’d never work with her again.

Build up your professional online presence

Instead of joining the internet trolls, take time to build a positive online presence.

Use some of your downtime to write articles, blogs, or essays related either to your industry or an industry you want to move to. Then post those articles on LinkedIn. Don’t stop at your own opinions. Comment on other people’s blogs and post links to their work. If you disagree, disagree respectfully.

One writer we know has leveraged great success from LinkedIn. He’s on the platform every day, connecting with people at companies he’d like to write for. Once he has established a relationship, he takes the conversation off LinkedIn to email. He’s gotten thousands of dollars in work, more than enough to pay back the cost of a paid LinkedIn membership.

Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow

Even though you don’t yet have a job, you can still set regular work hours. Make a work schedule for yourself. Spend your ‘workday’ working through these ideas. When you do get a job, maintain the improvement mindset to boost your chances of a promotion or an even better job.