The prospect of landing a job may seem dire right now, but according to career experts there’s an opportunity to upskill and adapt — and if you do, you can come out of isolation in front of the pack.

With handshakes and face-to-face job interviews out of the question, now’s the time to strengthen your “virtual handshake”, which could serve you well beyond the current pandemic.

Associate Professor for internships at the University of Western Australia Peter Robinson says those job-seekers who adapt to the virtual world of recruitment have an advantage.

“[It gives you] a unique set of skills, possibly for what the world of work is going to look like in the future, where more and more people will work remotely,” he says.

So with many of us with time on our hands in social isolation, it may be the perfect time to upskill yourself.

And with many people looking for a job, you can bet other candidates will be doing the same.

A Zoom interview is still the real deal

If you get to the interview stage of the job application, it will most likely be through a video call like Zoom or Skype, but don’t take it any less seriously.

Ensure you look professional and presentable, and carefully consider the lighting, what’s in the background, and any distracting background noise too.

A man in a suit points a finger at an iPad in jest while on a video call wearing white headphones.

Perth Resume director Tanja Coyne suggests doing a practice run with a friend or family member to ensure your microphone is working and you can clearly hear the other person.

Closely research the company you are interviewing for as well, so you can ask informed questions.

Another tip is to practise the types of questions you might get asked — Ms Coyne says despite the different way of interviewing, the questions will likely be much the same.

Pay attention to your virtual handshake

When sitting for the interview, you obviously won’t be able to impress the interviewer with your firm handshake, so you will have to stand out in other ways.

Given so much of how we communicate is non-verbal, Ms Coyne says pay attention to how engaged you come across.

Photograph of a woman staring worriedly at her laptop screen.

Edith Cowan University career advisor Gina Susca recommends making eye contact with the people to whom you’re speaking — which in 2020 terms means ensuring your video is on.

“Ask more questions than you usually would, really show that you have researched the company,” Ms Coyne adds.

The resume becomes super important

Don’t underestimate the importance of your resume either, Ms Coyne says, because it is often the first impression the recruiter will have of you and chances are they will spend less than two minutes reading it.

Think about how you will stand out from the crowd — this might be through your key achievements, such as special projects or collaborations you’ve worked on — and make sure to have a strong professional profile summary.

“Especially during a time like this when it’s absolutely competitive and you have so many people applying for the same position, we need to give people that point of difference,” Ms Coyne says.

Contacts are everything, so connect online

Industry meetups are a great way to make contacts in your chosen field, but given the current social distancing restrictions these events are a no-go.

Instead, Ms Susca says online professional networks like LinkedIn are useful tools for reaching out to people.

“Your LinkedIn profile is your electronic business card,” she says.

A screenshot of several apps on a screen, including LinkedIn.

She also says don’t be shy in handing it out. Now more than ever, it’s important for job seekers to build a professional online presence and make contact with relevant people in their professions.

LinkedIn is also a great way to show potential employers your breadth of skills and experience, but remember to keep the most important information at the top of your profile.

Take up online courses

If you’re looking for ways to fill your day during isolation, Ms Susca suggests making the most of online courses, some of which are free.

She says courses in everything from leadership and management to software development are available through sites like LinkedIn and Seek, and through universities if you’re a student.

Ms Coyne encourages people to take up Federal Government-subsidised short courses too.

The online courses are designed for students and displaced workers, and run from May until December in areas including IT, foreign languages and environmental studies.

“Now’s the absolute best time to do it — not only is it subsidised from a financial standpoint, you also probably have a bit more time considering the current circumstances,” Ms Coyne says.

Virtual internships

Remote or virtual internships are another way to build contacts and skills from home.

If you are a student who had an in-person internship arranged, Associate Professor Robinson says consider trying to conduct it virtually, even though it lacks some of the benefits of being in the workplace.

Alternatively, some bigger corporations are conducting their own forms of virtual internships which give you a taste of what a day in the life of a company would be like.

A spokesperson for KPMG suggested accessing these experiences through website InsideSherpa.

What you need to know about coronavirus:

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This content was originally published here.

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