Job hunting is a difficult process in normal circumstances. Throw in a global pandemic where you can’t meet in person and you have an even bigger challenge.
Now that everything from finding an open position to interviewing is mostly online, here are some tips to adjust to your online job hunt.
A 2020 Financial Accountability Office of Ontario report recorded a loss of 355,300 jobs during that year. The most recent Economic and Budget Outlook said there will be an increase in employment in the next year as the province fully reopens.
Lyla Nagasaka, a human resources representative, was one of the many people who had to adapt to working online over the past year.
Nagasaka has been working in human resources for over five years. Her experience conducting interviews has allowed her to gather different tips to increase your chances of landing a position during your virtual job hunt.
How to gain experience online
If the pandemic left you with a blank resume, consider earning certificates and licences.
If you’re a Toronto resident, the City of Toronto provides numerous training courses.
You can receive certificates related to careers in art, business, administration, social services and other fields.
The government of Ontario runs programs geared towards low-income women, as well as women who have escaped domestic abuse.
There are also programs specifically for Indigenous women in leadership roles through the Ontario Native Women’s Association.
Nagasaka also said it’s important to produce your own work.
Creating and working on your own projects during your free time shows you are motivated and continuously honing your skills, she said.
If you hope to work in a field that requires a portfolio, there are many online platforms you can use to showcase your work.
If you’re interested in writing, WordPress or Medium are ideal websites for hosting your written pieces.
There are also publications like Arc Poetry Magazine that have open poetry submissions.
If you prefer to create a platform of your own, there are many Ontario-based website design services.
Nagasaka said she encourages those who are looking for experience to search for any opportunity, whether it is a paid gig or not.
“Employers just want to know that you are producing [content],” she said. “They want to know if you’re actually dedicated to your work and that you’re interested in what you are applying [for].”
How to network online
Networking can lead you beyond just meeting people in your field. You can receive personal advice, information on specific fields and even future interview opportunities.
You can potentially land bigger and better opportunities if you connect with the right person.
Nagasaka said she recommends platforms like LinkedIn to reach out to people in your particular field.
“You can find anybody at any company in any city and connect with them. You can’t expect everyone to help you, but you could have a future connection,” she said.
Nagasaka added she has connected with many people through LinkedIn, receiving several opportunities just by sending a message.
She also suggested reaching out to former employers, professors and mentors for guidance.
Professors are an especially helpful resource for recent graduates as they have seen your abilities and skills firsthand.
They may have insight into where you can improve and what work environment will be a good fit for you.
It is also important to reach out to people once you have developed a relationship with them.
“You should always keep in touch with them, keep them updated, engage in their classes, and not only reach out when you need a favour. Building a relationship is important,” said Nagasaka.
Video call interview etiquette
Interviewing in person and online are two different formats and you need to keep certain preparations in mind for both.
Make sure you have a suitable environment for the interview. A room with bright and natural lighting makes the candidate seem more open and enthusiastic.
Based on her own experience with interviewing, Nagasaka said she finds when the interviewee is better lit, they give off a more positive impression.
She also said not to use a filter as a background. It can be unnatural and distracting when the green screen glitches.
If you do need to use a filter, she said to use one that is simple and realistic.
“I also know that it’s a luxury to have a professional setting in your home for an interview so just make it as real and authentic as you can,” said Nagasaka.
If there’s a risk of disruptions, like a poor internet connection or noise, let your interviewer know beforehand.
Make sure to share your phone number with the interviewer as a backup in case you lose your internet connection.
“Most likely, they will be accommodating and understanding about your situation, but you want to be polite and make sure that you let them know ahead of time,” said Nagasaka.
She added that whether it be in person or online, you may make mistakes you can learn from. Preparation is key to meeting your goals.
“Practice really does make things better so practice interviewing, practice preparing. The first few times may not come out as you envision but accepting that is part of the process.”