The news about unemployment is dire but there are some bright spots for people looking for work right now. As the coronavirus rages on, some industries, like essential retail, grocery and delivery services of all types, are hiring in mass in an effort to quickly onboard thousands of people to meet demand.
But with more than 36.4 million people who have filed jobless claims as of May 9, competition will still be fierce for these roles. Taking careful steps to leave a positive impression on an employer will be critical to landing one of these coveted roles.
According to Juliet Huck, an expert in persuasive communications strategy, now more than ever job seekers need to stay focused on highlighting what they bring to the table, and what skills they can offer the company.
Especially for job seekers who are applying for roles outside of their normal field, focusing on how your transferable skills can help a company reach its goals during this trying time can set you apart. For example, Huck suggests that simply asking the interviewer what the biggest problem the company is currently facing is important. Even more crucial is being able to articulate how your skills and experience can help the company achieve those goals.
Huck also says body language is important during a job interview. If you're sitting down for an interview, she says that you should lean forward a bit and make eye contact with the interviewer. If you're standing, face your body toward the person. This shows you're focused and marks you as someone who is truly interested in the job and the interviewer.
If you are being interviewed via a video conferencing tool, such as Zoom, make sure you are in a quiet place with good lighting. Do your best to look at the camera while you speak to mimic eye contact.
Some other tips to stand out during mass hiring:
1. Present a unique resume
A cookie-cutter resume won't help you stand out to recruiters. You need to read the position requirements carefully and then try to address as many of those points as you can in your resume, such as experience in customer service, management or a certain industry. Try to show where you made a difference in a job: "I suggested a new inspection system that was adopted by all the units in the company, helping to improve quality by 25 percent."
2. Have a compelling cover letter
This should not be simply a repeat of your resume. A well-written cover letter is a chance to show a bit of your personality by explaining what attracted you to the company and the position. In addition, it's an opportunity to demonstrate that you understand what the company does and the challenges it is currently facing.
3. Set the scene
The employer may want to do a phone interview or a video interview, so make sure you have a reliable phone or Internet connection. Before your call, test the speakers on your computer or mobile device for sound. Find a quiet place to take the call and make sure the lighting is bright enough that the interviewer can see your face.
4. Prepare your notes
Before your interview, make notes on your resume about your experience and accomplishments. These will serve as good talking points and will help jog your memory, especially if you tend to get nervous during job interviews. Also, prepare a list of three to five questions to ask the interviewer. These questions should be ones that can't be answered simply by looking at the company website.
5. Be courteous
Huck says that you can help yourself stand out by being polite, asking questions and following up with a thank-you note. Smiling throughout your interview and expressing enthusiasm for the role goes a long way, too.
6. Look the part
Be sure that you are dressed professionally, even during a video interview. Business casual is always a safe bet when interviewing for a job, and make sure that you're neatly groomed. Putting in that effort shows the interviewer respect and sends the signal that the job is important to you.
Regardless of whether you are a shy person, you can't let that stop you from engaging with an interviewer. Huck suggests that one way to overcome this is by setting up a mock interview with a friend or family member to help you become more comfortable and allow you to practice your responses.
Finally, remember to carefully proof your resume and cover letter and have a list of references ready to go if they're requested.