Tips for job seekers amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Applying for a job online
Posted at 7:00 AM, Apr 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-20 12:22:00-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Searching for a job during a pandemic can be overwhelming, but opportunities are still available in Kansas City.

Dozens of employers are hiring in various industries, including health care, education, food and beverage, and banking.

"We are really in such an unprecedented time right now," Jessica Palm, vice president and lead executive of Team KC, said. "But with the number of people filing unemployment nationally, Kansas City isn't experiencing that quite as tough."

Palm leads a group created by the Kansas City Area Development Council that helps connect employers with qualified candidates.

She recently authored a blog offering tips for job seekers, including the need to be comfortable using technology and to set realistic goals.

"I would say unrealistic goals right now would be finding your dream job in the middle of COVID-19," Palm said. "Realistically, a lot of companies that are actively hiring right now are hiring in a fast-paced environment because they're responding to the impact of business on COVID-19. So, maybe they're retooling their business to support this pandemic."

While your dream job may not be out there right now, Palm suggested thinking about how your skills can be used in an industry you may have never considered before.

For example, if you worked as a server at a restaurant, think about highlighting you customer-service and conflict-management skills.

"Once you think about your skills, identify how (you'd) put that into (your) resume and what types of positions (you'd) be interested in applying for," Palm said. "(You should) really take a look at your skills and the positions that you're seeing that are available."

Right now, Palm said there are about 5,000 open positions in the Kansas City area, but applying is only part of the process. If you land an interview, she said you need to be willing to ask tough questions.

"It's really important to ask the company you're interviewing with how they are responding to COVID-19, what precautions have they put in place and are they offering benefits to their employees and their employees' families to keep everybody safe and healthy during this time," Palm said.

With many people working remotely, Palm said you should also ask about technology amenities, the possibility of subsidizing the cost of internet usage and whether you'll be able to grow in the position once the pandemic is over.

It's also good to get familiar with technology before you apply.

With stay-at-home orders in place through at least May 3 in Kansas and Missouri, and longer in some places, many employers are conducting interviews virtually.

Lastly, Palm said now is the time to tell everyone you know that you're looking for work.

"Telling everyone is really just leveraging your network," Palm said. "The more people that know you're actively looking and can endorse you and speak on your behalf to their company or their employer, only adds to the credibility of why you'd be a great addition to somebody's team."