Job hunting in a pandemic

Job hunting in a pandemic


Monday, August 03, 2020

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WHEN most of us started to feel the economic effects of the pandemic earlier this year, our main priority was to stay home and stay alive until things got better. But by now it is becoming clearer that COVID-19 will not vanish overnight, and we have to try our best to return to normal. Some of us may have had to close our businesses, got laid off or let go from our jobs, or had to take pay cuts that severely impacted our quality of life, and are now seeking new opportunities for income.

Digital marketer and curator of the blog Joel Nomdarkham pointed out that COVID-19 has not only affected salaries, but also hiring practices.

“Companies are always looking for the best candidates, and today's reality has added some pressure to the process,” he told All Woman. “A lot of people have been laid off, but the rise in certain areas, such as digital, has given way to hiring. This means a lot of people are contending for a very few spots — you will have to stand out.”

Nomdarkham gives a few tips on how you can stand out, even in an increasingly competitive job market.

“One of the most critical things is to brush up on your business profile,” he said. “Hiring managers are interested in results, and if you can show tangible projects that you have worked on via a portfolio format, it comes across as more elegant.”

This, he said, will help set you apart from the hundreds of other candidates who will be sending in cover letters and resumes.

“It's also important that you understand the value of personal branding, and how integral digital media is becoming in the hiring process. Social media is a powerful tool that can be to your advantage or detriment. Use it responsibly,” he added.

Be job smart

The compensation package is a delicate conversation at this time, the corporate eccentric said, as now more than ever businesses are using their resources sparingly, including those that go towards hiring new staff.

“But I will be straight up,” Nomdarkham said. “Being in an earning position is way better than not working. But this should not result in complacency. If you can find something to meet the bills and living expenses for a moment, you should also be using the time to seek better/build on personal projects. Don't undersell your talent, but also be smart. Have your goals and realign your expenses to see if something temporary might help.”

What's your expected salary range?

As Nomdarkham suggested, you might need to realign your expenses to match a less-than-ideal salary for the time being, but how low can you really afford to go?

Financial advisor Granville Knight pointed out that while any stream of income, even one that is barely trickling, is going to be attractive when you are unemployed, you should ensure that it makes sense to you financially.

“You must first assess your worth,” he noted. “Before you even apply for a job, reach out to others in the field with similar qualifications and experience that you have, and find out how much they are being paid. Research how much other businesses are paying to do the same job that you are applying for.”

Knight said this will help to temper your expectations, so that you do not overestimate your value or sell yourself short.

“After finding out the typical salary range, you need to create a budget for yourself to find out the absolute minimum amount of funds you need to live for at least the next year. Even if you only intend to take the job until something better comes along, you must ensure that it's a financially wise move in the first place, and you won't find yourself in debt just to make it back to work each day.”

He added: “Once you know your personal minimum and the market value of the job, then you will be better prepared to answer the question in the interview, or at least know when a salary is absolutely ridiculous.”

But even if the range presented to you in the interview is not ideal, Knight added, it does not mean the conversation is over.

“This is where you now need to negotiate based on practicality,” he explained. “Perhaps they offer great benefits, such as health and life insurance, which can provide some peace of mind if your savings are crippled by the salary. You also want to find out whether there is compensation for overtime, vehicle upkeep, and options to work from home, as these can also affect your budget.”

He underscored that while you may be desperate for a job, you should never reveal that in the interview.

“You have to remember that they want you for the value they think you will be able to add to their business, and you must sell that value for the best price,” he said.

For resource materials on marketing yourself in an ever-changing business environment visit Nomdarkham's website, and for assistance with financial planning, e-mail

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