Five Huge Wake-Up Calls for Job-Seekers in the Covid Era

Oh, there they are!

Getting a great job has always been difficult, but our friend COVID-19 just made it much harder.

If you’re serious about cracking into a long-term career or resuming your career, now is NOT the time for half-measures. It’s not time for the same old playbook.

If you think posting once a day on LinkedIn or sending out resumes is going to work, you’re wrong and you probably already know it.

Here’s some tough love:

  1. You are NOT going to find your dream job in your hometown. Or your college town. It’s not there. If it was there, you would have found it by now. Did you find it? No? Okay then your “strategy” to keep looking where you already didn’t find what you’re looking for is a stupid waste of time. Start expanding your job search. Look in a 100 mile radius from where you live. If that doesn’t work, up it to 200 miles. If you find yourself saying “oh but I can’t move, I have a family, a house, friends, etc.” That’s inertia and fear of something new HURTING your career. If you could travel forward in time 10 years to see yourself successful, fulfilled in your field but halfway around the globe OR still at home, searching craigslist postings in your PJs which future would you prefer? The second one is already well underway. The only way you get to the first one is by changing your job search strategy. Now. And in twenty years, when you’re successful enough, you can move back home. Or not. Maybe halfway around the globe is better? You don’t know! You have no fucking clue.
  2. Pick up the phone. Call your contacts. The email thing? It’s not working. How many emails do you get a day? I get dozens and I rarely interact with more than one or two of them. You need to step way outside of your comfort zone and have actual conversations with your contacts. Who are your contacts? Former co-workers. Professors. Friends in your field. Hiring managers you hit it off with. People who know people. Even cold-calling businesses in your field is BETTER than casually scrolling through LinkedIn and liking posts. Sending out a formulaic email to your contacts about how you’re seeking employment is not going to cut shit. Everyone is seeking employment.
  3. Your resume and your cover letter. Do they have a typo? Are you sure? If you’re not the type of person who can tell, then you need to have someone with that eye look for mistakes. Yeah, that annoying weasel of a person who corrects your Facebook posts: ask them to look at your resume and cover letter. By the way, is your resume easy to read? Is it graphically easy on the eyes? If you’re not one of those graphically talented people, hire a professional.
  4. “I don’t like marketing myself.” Shut the fuck up. SHUT UP. Get over being over the idea of having to market yourself. Serious question for you: Do you think you’re better than beer? No? Obviously not. You are not better than beer. Do you know how much time, effort and money goes into marketing BEER? Beer is de facto, prima facie and a dozen other Latin phrases that I don’t know, great. If beer needs marketing, how fucking dare you even think you can skate by without some marketing? How dare you?! You have to figure out how to market yourself. Pretend a single solitary person loves you as much as everyone loves beer. Now, what would that person say about you? Okay, that’s your marketing hook.
  5. Get your foot in the door. Oh the pay’s too low? Oh the position isn’t exactly what you were looking for? Oh, you don’t want to take a step backwards professionally? Listen pal: you need to be in the stadium to even have a chance to get in the game. Don’t complain about how shitty the seats might be. Get into that arena. Do your best. Prove that you should be starting instead of sitting in the nosebleeds. Find something even remotely related to your field of expertise, and milk it.

There’s a common thread in all of these tips: they force you to do something different and more difficult than what 90% of everyone else is doing. Everyone else is on LinkedIn posting bullshit positivity stories about their journey through COVID unemployment. Everyone else is blanketing the internet’s inboxes with resumes and cover letters. Everyone is looking in their hometown. Everyone is reluctant to market themselves. Everyone is reluctant to take a position that isn’t the perfect fit.

To get on the path to your ideal career, you need to stand out from everyone and do things that no one is doing. If it’s uncomfortable, it might be the only way to get what you want. That means looking not where you are, and at what you want to do, but where the jobs are and what the economy wants you to do.

It’s likely that when you find your path, you will realize it was never even on your radar. You’ll look back and say, “I don’t know how I got where I am, but I never imagined I would be here because I didn’t even know it existed before I found it.”

That’s the path you won’t find on social media or some job board.

One last tip: don’t quit. Something like a million people stopped looking for work last week. Those million people are now on the path to nowhere. You can’t get a callback if you’re not making calls.

I wish you luck!

Author’s note: you’re probably wondering “who the hell does this guy think he is? What are his bona fides for giving career advice?”

I’m glad you asked: I have a successful patchwork of a career that took the better part of a decade to finally get to.
I’ve been fired four times. Once, I got fired and had my fiancee leave me shortly afterwards. I’ve been let go at the beginning of a recession. I’ve been re-hired by people who fired me (twice.) I’ve had to move (twice) to get the job I wanted. I live far away from my hometown now. I’ve taken unpleasant jobs and earned little money in pursuit of career advancement. I had a million chances to pack it in. I didn’t give up. I’ve done all the things I mention in this piece: I’ve sat in my underwear posting on LinkedIn. I’ve sent out who knows how many hundreds of applications to never hear back… I’ve tried my best to find a job in my hometown. I’m saying all of these things because I’ve made every mistake under the sun when it comes to finding a job. And if you have any questions or want to chat execution strategy (or you’re just at the end of your rope) send me an email at kevin dot michael dot mcelroy at gmail dotcom

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Kevin McElroy

Kevin McElroy

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