COVID-19 has influenced many aspects of life, including how people develop and further their careers. Networking, job applications, interviewing, and even actual jobs were going virtual before the pandemic, but now online processes and opportunities are often the norm. The Missouri Job Center of St. Charles County has tips and advice for how job seekers can successfully navigate these areas.
Online Networking and Job Searching
Networking and job searching have become intertwined thanks to the internet—and even moreso due to the pandemic.
Networking involves meeting people and developing relationships for career advancement. Cultivating these relationships takes time, but the effort often results in job leads and opportunities. Pre-pandemic, most networking happened at conferences, monthly meetings, and social hours for professional organizations, but now many of these events have gone virtual or offer both online and in-person options. Alix Stewart, Career Consultant for the Missouri Job Center, recommends that job seekers continue to participate however they feel comfortable.
“Think of networking as professional socializing,” Stewart explains. “Even with the pandemic, there is still potential to make connections and stay current in your field by participating in online networking opportunities, so don’t pass them by and lose out on valuable time.”
LinkedIn is a vital networking and job search tool with nearly 740 million members.
“LinkedIn is the biggest, most important social media networking platform for job seekers to join,” Stewart says. “You can connect with other professionals, let others know you’re looking for work and set your profile to indicate you are open to employers contacting you. Many employers post their jobs on LinkedIn and use it for recruiting.”
Stewart recommends that job seekers check out job opportunities listed on jobs.mo.gov, the state’s online job search database, and join other online job search engines such as Indeed and GlassDoor.
Along with building online connections, Stewart recommends job seekers let trusted friends, family, and even former colleagues know about their job search.
“It’s as easy as a phone call or sending a private text message or email to let them know you’re searching for opportunities and to keep you in mind if they hear anything,” Stewart says.
If an individual seeks to advance their career and move up in their current company, they should keep an eye out for internal listings, talk with their supervisor, and make sure they’re doing all they can to stand outby going above and beyond in their current role.
“Statistics show that 70-95 percent of jobs are never advertised because they’re filled internally,” Stewart says. “You definitely have an edge as a current employee looking for a promotion or simply a new position within the same company.”
Job seekers who need help finding job opportunities, developing a resume and cover letter, completing job applications, or even exploring training opportunities for a new career can find help through the Missouri Job Center.
“Our career counselors are trained to assist job seekers every step of the way,” says Lori Myers, Director of Workforce & Business Development, operator of the Missouri Job Center of St. Charles County. “We also have computers available for job seekers to use to search and apply for jobs, and virtual workshops taught by our staff on a variety of career building skills.”
For more information, visit the center online or call 636-255-6060.
Applying for Jobs and Interviewing
Filling out a paper application was a rarity even before the pandemic, but now all employers are putting their job applications online. A way to stand out in online applicant pools is to include both a resume and a cover letter with the application for any type of position.
“Many online job applications have a resume upload section, but if not, find out how you can email it and package it with a cover letter,” Stewart recommends. “You can combine them into one PDF document and upload in the resume section of the online application if that is available. This extra effort shows you are willing to go the extra mile for the position.”
While many businesses are moving back to conducting in-person interviews after the height of the pandemic, online interviews via platforms like Zoom and WebEx are still common and may continue to be used in the future.
“Treat a virtual interview just like an in-person meeting,” Stewart says. “Dress professionally from head to toe, be aware of the environment around you, and prepare ahead of time. Even though it feels more casual and relaxed, don’t treat it that way. Give it 100 percent.”
As for questions to ask during the interview, inquiries about how the pandemic has impacted and continues to impact the job and the employer are appropriate to ask.
“If not mentioned in a job description, it is OK to ask if a position is able to work from home, if remote options are available, or if there is a vaccine mandate,” Stewart says. “It’s also OK to ask about the work environment. For example, how the office has handled COVID or if workstations allow for social distancing. You just don’t want to discuss your personal health issues or disabilities as you do not legally have to disclose them.”