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The rules of job hunting have changed — here's how to get hired

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The number of people looking for work is at historic levels.

At the same time, because of shelter-in-place restrictions due to Covid-19, the rules around job hunting have changed.

For those who have been laid off, furloughed or edged out of positions amid the coronavirus pandemic, landing a new job will be challenging, yet there are ways to stand out, experts say.

Here's how to get the attention of a hiring manager as the competition for openings heats up.  

Sharpen your skills

Despite an unprecedented jump in joblessness, there is a demand for workers on the frontlines, particularly in health and online retail.

Consider the type of role you want and the steps you can take to get there.

Job seekers should take advantage of the many online classes and training available to strengthen their candidacy, advised Michelle Armer, chief people officer at CareerBuilder.

"In some cases, economic downturns provide opportunity for continued education and development," she said.

In fact, there are many choices for free and low-cost skill development courses being offered due to the pandemic.  

Your resume and LinkedIn profile should include these skills or certifications, as well as other accomplishments that demonstrate success.

"Don't just say what you did, but the value you brought," said Blair Heitmann, a career expert at LinkedIn. "That's really what a hiring manager is interested in."

Network, network, network

It still holds true that "the best way to find a job is through networking," said Ivan Misner, founder of Business Network International, a global networking organization.

In the current climate, that means phoning close acquaintances or reaching out via email to more distant connections.

"Most people are more than willing to spend a few minutes helping someone," Misner said. Go into the conversation prepared with questions and seek out specific information that can help, he advised.

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Work towards getting an introduction at the company you are interested in, or at least some material that may give you an edge, Misner said.

"Get into the right mindset," he cautioned. "You can't show desperation." 

Polish your social media presence

With nearly every interaction now online, how you present yourself on social media is increasingly important.

"Prospective employers will be using digital platforms to learn even more about you upfront than before," said Jill Tipograph, co-founder of career coach firm Early Stage Careers in New York. "Make sure your presence is pristine and memorable in a good way."

Roughly 70% of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates and, of those that do, 43% said a candidate's social media content influenced their decision to hire them, according to a CareerBuilder study.

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"If used wisely, social media can help you stand out and show skills or interests that don't fit on a resume," CareerBuilder's Armer said.

On the flipside, don't have anything that could turn off a hiring manager, like tasteless comments or complaints about a former job or boss, Armer added. The same CareerBuilder study also found that 57% of employers have found content that caused them not to extend a job offer. 

Master the video interview or virtual career fair

Even pre-pandemic, hiring managers were conducting fewer in-person interviews, and that's even more true today.

To present your best self over video, test out your lighting, sound and background beforehand, LinkedIn's Heitmann said.

"Try to have the camera at eye level and find an aesthetically pleasing background — no bed behind you."

Then, dress as you would for an in-person meeting, she said, right down to the shoes.

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For a virtual recruitment fairs, practice being present and engaging in order to stand out in a gallery of zoom windows, Tipograph advised. "These are all lessons that people have to learn now."

After any interaction, follow up with an email within a day or two. While a hand-written note is a nice personalized touch, deliveries take longer these days.

"You want to make sure it gets there as soon as possible," Heitmann said. "It's your last opportunity to seal the deal."

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Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.