Job hunting is daunting in the best of times, and as many companies move to remote work and many workers are being furloughed and laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it may seem nearly impossible. For veterans and those who are coming off active duty during the pandemic, it can be an especially daunting task.
The American Legion spoke with Brian Parker, Navy Federal Credit Union assistant vice president of Corporate Communications, and Joel Kohn, vice president of Sales and Marketing at Fidelis Sustainability Distribution, LLC, to get their input on current trends and tips searching for jobs during a pandemic.
“There’s a lot of hope out there and companies are hiring,” said Parker, noting it does depend on the industry. “Look for jobs in the supply chain, logistics and for essential-worker types of positions. These are industries that are continuing to boom during the pandemic and will continue to boom after. If there’s a second wave, these are going to be the more secure jobs.”
For veterans who are looking for their first post-military job, these positions can be ideal. And while they may not be the perfect position long-term, they offer real-world experience in the workforce.
LinkedIn and other social media platforms are excellent resources when on the job hunt and these sites are seeing increased activity during an era of social distancing. Parker said one of the most important things you can do regarding your social media accounts is simply to keep them up to date.
“(LinkedIn) is often one of the first places a hiring manager is going to go to make sure your resume is matching your LinkedIn profile,” he said. “I would also add anything to your LinkedIn that you can’t fit on your resume. Hiring managers want to see results, demonstration you know the job, and demonstration of qualities you learned in the military. Look at LinkedIn as an open canvas.”
“I think anyone who has served (in the military) has inherently marketable skills,” Kohn said. “I look at it similarly to college grads joining the workforce where there’s almost a catch-22 where folks don’t want to hire you because you lack specific experience. Well how do you get that experience if no one will hire you?
“Ultimately, it comes down to someone willing to take a chance on you and that’s all on you. You have to be able to use creative intellect to translate how you as an individual can be a benefit to any organization. Know enough about the position you’re trying to fill and leverage your specific experience.”
When it comes to reopening, Parker believes businesses will be initially very cautious and very bottom-line focused.
“They want employees that will produce and eventually gain additional business for them because we’re in an environment where even after we get out of this pandemic, we could fall back into this environment at any point. You want to be sure you’re positioning yourself in an organization that’s going to make you extremely valuable.”
Kohn encourages job applicants to remain optimistic and adaptable.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty right now,” he said. “Never give up, because you never really know when that opportunity is going to pop up. Maintain contact with prospective employers and your veteran network.
“Don’t sell yourself short. Have an understanding of whatever job you’re looking for and have the creative intellect to seamlessly translate what you did in the military to make that hiring manager comfortable in taking a chance on you.”