Job Hunting in a Pandemic (Part 1 of 3)


Just before the quarantine began (in Massachusetts) I was laid off from my job as an Application Trainer at a human services company. To be truthful, I wasn’t horribly devastated; my long-term plan had been to finish my degree and then find a job as an ID.  Nonetheless, losing a job, your daily community, is a shock.

The quarantine began, and suddenly I had all this free time! I began my job search with great energy, wondering if anyone would be hiring, as no-one knew what would happen to the economy.

I’m not an expert job finder or self-promoter. That’s why I want to share my journey so far: few of us are experts at finding work or representing ourselves digitally, even when our skills are in demand.

And our skills are in demand! I can’t believe how many instructional design, training, course development, and instructional technology jobs are in my Inbox every day!

Getting Started

First, I did the things you would probably do:

  • Let everyone in my professional and social networks know that I was seeking work
  • Updated my resume
  • Updated my online portfolio
    • In 2019, I’d bought a domain from and thrown together a portfolio. Boy, did I make a lot of mistakes. I’m on a second draft; I’ve learned that portfolios are not intended to be static.

Second, I hired a coach. LinkedIn has a cool link called Profinder : under Achieve Your Career Goals, search for the type of help you need.

It wasn’t cheap—about $600.00 for a package of four hour-long meetings. However, the consultant was generous with phone calls and, when she had to cancel a meeting, threw in an extra meeting for free.

Photo of people in a cafe. Text: The first meeting was face-to-face in a cafe, before the quarantine. People packed in like sardines. She was a stranger, and I had been training people in a classroom the previous week. We shared a spoon, joking that we were fairly sure we didn’t have the Black Death. How pre-pandemic.

The first meeting was face-to-face in a cafe, before the quarantine. People packed in like sardines. She was a stranger, and I had been training thirty people in a small classroom two days previous. We shared a spoon, joking that we were fairly sure we didn’t have the Black Death. How pre-pandemic.

Tangible and Intangible Results

For me, it was worth it—my consultant had years of experience as a recruiter and knew what they looked for. We refined my resume by cutting jobs that were too far in the past, rewriting so that industry buzz words were highlighted, and refocusing how I described myself and what I was seeking. She helped me edit my LinkedIn presence to include a good headshot and a custom header (my design) and I transitioned my references and all sections of my profile from museums to an education orientation.

Most importantly, she reactivated my confidence. It’s not easy to re-invent yourself, and when recovering from a layoff, in the middle of a global pandemic, your personal demons tend to rear their ugly heads.

17th century woodcut print of a circle of witches and demons dancing.
Demons Getting Personal
Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

The bottom line: find support, however you can—you’re going to need it, no matter how short or long your job search. We’re all in this together.

Part 2: Headhunters, Job Banks, and Searches, oh my!

Part 3: How Not to Interview


  1. Thank you for sharing your experiences and I’m sure that I will be referring to this post again when I finish my degree and start job hunting.

    I think it would be more clear if you changed the blog title to something like “Job Hunting in a Pandemic (Part 1 of 3)”. It’s currently a bit confusing if it’s one post with three sections or a three-part series.

    1. Excellent point, I’ll change that.

  2. I’m sorry about your layoff, but I’m glad you’re not devastated. I was also laid off shortly before going into quarantine, so I empathize. It sounds like you got a lot out of your experience with a professional, and there’s definitely a demand for instructional designers right now. I appreciate you sharing your journey and admire your positive attitude. Good luck!

  3. I enjoyed reading this article about your experience job hunting during the pandemic. It resonated with me because I have always had difficulty selling myself to employers. I think that I would benefit from some expert guidance when it comes to describing myself and my abilities for the job that I am seeking. I had not considered hiring a consultant to help me improve my resume or LinkedIn profile, but now I am strongly considering doing just that.

  4. Searching for a job is a job in itself! It was wise of you to outsource aspects to someone who helps others do this as a profession. Reading about you finding confidence in the process of applying for jobs gives me hope.
    I’m looking forward to parts 2 and 3 of your job hunting saga!

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