During these unusual times, people are still searching for jobs and some companies need more workers. I know folks on both sides of the hiring process, and I can tell you that people are interviewing and starting new jobs as I write this. Since the start of this pandemic, people have been asking me what’s changed about job search during COVID. Here’s my answer.
What has changed/is changing?
- COVID has disrupted the world economy. While many businesses are being affected negatively, some are thriving during COVID. It makes sense to research your field to see how COVID is affecting it. In some cases, a career change might suddenly seem desirable or necessary.
- Geographic considerations. If you want to ensure a short commute, it’s still best to target companies close to your home. However, telecommuting has lost its stigma and may make some companies viable even if they are far away. More candidates will expect remote work and ask for it while increasingly companies will be set up with this as the norm.
- Career-related in-person interactions have changed forever. Think less handshakes and more virtual interviews. Large private and public gatherings will no longer be a great way to network and access others if they don’t exist. Your comfort with online networking will need to develop in order to land a job and grow your career.
- Technology will continue to evolve and thus continue to affect the hiring process:
- ATS systems have gotten more sophisticated but still have issues. Use of AI and ATS systems will only increase and they usually work against a candidate.
- It will be more common to use texting, apps, and other new ways of reaching out to candidates.
- Hiring process times will likely be slower but for some companies, they may speed up (those that adapt faster and make use of new technologies).
What hasn’t changed?
With all of that said, there are a few things that have not changed and in my humble opinion, never will. Some of these ideas have been discussed for many years after being popularized in the 1970s with the book What Color is Your Parachute? by the late and esteemed Richard Bolles. These tips are timeless and will never steer you wrong in the future of work.
- Know yourself well (your values, interests, personality, skills & strengths) and be able to communicate to others (verbally and in writing) what you love to do. People won’t hire you if you can’t clearly explain what you can do for them. Take time to learn about yourself and what might be a good career fit or next move. Multiple times in your career you will need to reflect and re-visit this idea of knowing yourself well (and researching who needs your talents).
- You must take ownership of your career (this can be scary but also empowering). The new landscape of work requires this. Don’t depend on any employer to do it for you. I always say that no one will care about your career or your job search more than you.
- Always be proactive vs. reactive with your approach to job search. Let me give you some examples of what I mean. The most reactive (and least successful) job search method is mainly spending your time looking on job boards and applying online without making any effort to meet someone who works there or find out if you know anyone who knows someone who works there. Job Boards are depressing with so much impersonal rejection, so avoid them! Try to only use them when you must, for example, after being invited to do so after networking with a person who works at the company. One proactive way to use job boards can be scanning them for research purposes (see who’s hiring, see what credentials they seek and what they might be paying).
- Always grow and develop your network. Networking is still the best method for job search and the most proactive approach. By actively seeking out new connections and staying in touch with folks from your past, you will discover opportunities that are not posted (i.e. the Hidden Job Market). Before or after applying for a job, you do everything you can to find a human who works there. Join professional associations and interact with the members (many in-person groups are meeting virtually right now). If you are always growing your network, it will be there when you need it. Don’t make the mistake of only focusing on your network when you are in a job search.
- Maintain a professional online presence. Which platforms will depend on your career path. For a creative, having an online portfolio is practically mandatory. For a C Suite executive, an about me landing page might be needed. For the average professional, LinkedIn is your best bet for a professional presence and career-related networking.
- Don’t burn bridges. I’ve seen many examples where someone from your past becomes a deciding factor in future hiring or candidates who avoided a certain employer because of a bad former boss. That’s why it’s always good to treat people with respect. Give proper notice and leave each employer on a good note (and even if they were jerks, you will never say that in an interview).
It will be interesting to see what the coming months and years bring to the topic of job search and COVID. No matter what happens, you can count on the above six ways to manage your career successfully. If you need help implementing these ideas, set up a free initial inquiry by going to www.brandcareermanagement.com and clicking in the top right-hand corner.