How to advance your career during COVID

During this COVID-19 time I have been getting lots of messages from people asking whether they should send resumes out or apply for jobs during these uncertain times. They feel embarrassed to be focusing on their own career and jobs during a time when people are so stressed. Some feel like no one is hiring right now so there’s no point. My opinion is that you definitely should work on your job search but be aware that it’s going to look a little different than usual. Employers will take longer to get back to you and to make decisions as priorities change day by day. Working on career progression is not just about sending out resumes and waiting for a reply. Here are a few ideas you can use in the meantime that will propel your career forward:

Improve your resume and portfolio

Make sure you have a great resume and portfolio. Make sure you are showing all of your skills and that you customize your portfolio and resume to be relevant to the jobs you’re applying for. Feel free to send over your resume and portfolio and we’ll be happy to share our comments and suggestions.

Prepare for Interviews

Take the time to really prepare for interviews. The design industry has a reputation for having big egos but the truth is I find that people in this industry are very reserved in talking about their own accomplishments. They feel like they will show the portfolio and the work will speak for itself. Unfortunately that’s not enough.

Remember that being a good designer/architect/project manager goes beyond delivering good projects. Share facts that show you stand out and how you make unique contributions in your workplace.

You might be asking yourself. How do I stand out? I don’t remember doing anything special. Go through the next exercise to help you zero in on some of the ways you made significant contributions at your office.

As you go over your job history, be sure to include 3-4 good stories that demonstrate your accomplishments. I’m referring to compelling career stories that bring to life the information on your resume and in your profile. These could include situations where you solved a problem, suggested a new way of doing something or achieved a result beyond expectations.  Keep in mind that the person interviewing you is most likely also an Architect/Interior Designer, just like you. They can relate to these stories, and giving personal examples like these will be what makes you memorable at the end of the day. Sharpen your story-telling skills by completing the Story Worksheet in our interviewing guide. For each example, think about the initial situation, the solution you suggested in detail and the result. How did this solution contribute to the success of the project, to your team working better or to a cost-saving.

Now is a great time to practice the stories so that you have them in your “back pocket” and you can use them easily when the time is right. It’s very likely that during this time you will have to do some online interviews so practice interviewing on camera. Do a practice run with a friend and see how you feel.

Be Flexible

Going “back to normal” is going to be a gradual process and the same will probably hold for design projects. As things start ramping up employers may feel that they need the extra help but may not be confident enough to commit to hiring full time. Make it clear to employers that you are available to work on contract or freelance. This can be a great way to gain valuable experience and at the same time establish connections in the industry.

Network Network Network

Hearing back about your applications might take a while so in the meantime keep up your networking activities to make sure you are top of mind when things ramp up. You can do that by engaging with professionals on Linkedin. Comment and engage in conversations about industry related topics. Connect with people who work for the companies you are interested in and attend industry events. We can’t attend “in person” networking events right now but there are LOTS of online events. Attending these online events might not be the same as mingling in person and making those real world connections but there are ways to make the most of online events.

  • You can learn some new things and get exposure to new ideas.
  • Use the event hashtag to find other people who attended the event and start a connection with them afterwards on LinkedIn.

Go on our blog to have a look at the full list of events.

If you’re interested in a specific company you can set up a google alert with the name of the company and get an alert every time they show up in content so there’s another piece of info for you to start a conversation online.

Enhance your skills

Use this time to continue to enhance your skills. There are lots of online courses and degrees being offered right now.  Keep up your technical skills in Revit or learn a new skill so that you become a stronger candidate for the job when this is over.

Stronger Together

The last piece of advice I have for you is to support each other.! This is a small industry remember to help each other out along the way!