Hays’ Gaelle Blake shares her tips for embarking on a job search amid Covid-19 and the subsequent economic downturn.
Did you intend to start looking for a new job shortly before the Covid-19 outbreak and are now wondering whether or not you should resume that search? Or perhaps you’ve been forced to seek a new role due to a change in circumstances caused by the coronavirus disruption?
Either way, it’s important for you to remember that it is possible to find a new job during this time, or indeed, any other time of economic uncertainty or recession. So, what are the steps you could take that would help you to secure a new role?
1. Cultivate confidence
Look back at your accomplishments and successes while thinking about the challenges you’ve successfully overcome.
You might also cultivate confidence by repeating positive affirmations to yourself every morning and in the evening, reflecting on what has gone well that day and concentrating on your own journey of professional progress and growth instead of comparing yourself to others.
The more confident you can be about your career as you look for a new job, the more effective you can be in marketing yourself to employers and making the case for the value you can bring to every role you apply for.
2. Adopt an open mind
Instead of thinking about the next traditional step up the career ladder for someone in your profession, consider whether a horizontal career move could actually be more beneficial for you.
Keep an open mind, too, about the industries on which you concentrate your job search. Some sectors – such as technology, life sciences and e-commerce – will be hiring more than others at the moment, so be strategic about how and where you look for new roles.
In addition, don’t assume that any role that you take should be a permanent one. Temporary or contract roles, for instance, can be invaluable ways to build your skillset and gain experience in different areas, and that’s before you consider that such roles can sometimes be made permanent later.
3. Accept the road less linear
Your next move doesn’t necessarily have to be a step up. Instead, you might step sideways into a new industry or step out to go back into education. Or perhaps there’s a step within your current organisation you could take that would also help you to feel you’re making interesting and rewarding progress in your career.
4. Take time out to evaluate what you want
There has never been a better time to reflect on your career so far and the direction that you would like it to take in the future. The changes that the pandemic has brought may also present you with an opportunity to be bold about what you truly want in your life and career.
So, use this time to reflect and be clear in your mind about exactly what you want your next career move to be. This level of clarity and focus will allow you to better target your job search, applying for only the most relevant opportunities and thus increasing your chances of success.
Not only that, but this newfound understanding of what you really want will come across well in the interview room, allowing you to further demonstrate why you are the best person for the job.
5. Don’t forget about your soft skills
According to a recent survey of unemployed jobseekers, 57pc of respondents were unable to identify their transferrable skills with a high degree of confidence, and 58pc weren’t sure how to include transferrable skills on their CV.
Now is the time to familiarise yourself with your skillset so that you can be as prepared as possible for the future changing landscape and steal a competitive advantage over other candidates during the job search process.
6. Upskill, upskill, upskill
If you have identified one or more skills gaps that need filling in order for you to move forward in your career, it’s a good idea to establish a pattern of proactively upskilling, making use of the various related resources out there – including online – that could help you to achieve it. Upskilling now will help to improve your chances of finding a new job by making you more employable and demonstrating to employers your commitment to lifelong learning.
Even for those currently self-isolating or otherwise working from home, there are various ways to upskill, including reading business books, listening to podcasts, attending virtual events, conferences and webinars, and enrolling in relevant online courses. Now could also be a good time to take advantage of any training and development resources your employer offers you.
7. Work on your CV
We may be entering a new era of work, but your CV will still be important when marketing yourself to employers. Important, too, is the need to optimise your CV for algorithms. Key to this is researching keywords and ensuring your CV includes them.
Look at job descriptions for your ideal role so you can determine what these keywords are and where they can be incorporated. Another crucial element of your CV is almost certainly your personal statement.
8. Build your personal brand
Now is a great time to fine-tune your own personal brand, including optimising your use of social media to more advantageously showcase your expertise. In particular, it’s important to regularly update your LinkedIn profile, adding any new skills you’ve learned.
Also use any time you have right now to share relevant industry news with your network and consider writing blogs to share your personal opinion on new developments or trends. This will help to increase your visibility in relevant circles.
When you’re updating your LinkedIn profile, adjust the relevant setting that communicates to recruiters and employers that you’re ‘open to work’ and consider posting an update to your network asking for their assistance with your job search.
It’s crucial at the moment, too, to use social platforms to network, as it might be some time until face-to-face events can happen again in some parts of the world. One great step here would be to join relevant LinkedIn groups, sharing your expertise and seeking advice from people in roles that you aspire to be in.
9. Prepare for remote interviews
Remote interviewing is increasingly likely to be the norm going forward. So, now’s the time to make perfect your virtual interviewing skills, including ensuring you present yourself in the best possible way when being interviewed via a laptop, tablet or even mobile screen.
Do you, for instance, have an environment that lends itself well to video interviews? Are you comfortable with using the technology? Aware of your body language? Other good reasons to give the chosen virtual interview software a test drive before the actual interview include the opportunity this provides to ensure you won’t be speaking too quietly or too loudly for the interviewer and to check for any time lags, which will help you to avoid inadvertently interrupting the interviewer.
10. Take care of your wellbeing
These are challenging times and we are all dealing with different emotions. The added pressure of job searching may make an already trying situation even more difficult to manage. It’s vital to stay positive and to try to be patient and persistent, too.
In the meantime, look after your wellbeing. Your own self-care should be high on your priority list right now. Also try to approach the job search process with a growth mindset, treating it as another opportunity to learn and develop.
By Gaelle Blake
Gaelle Blake is director of permanent appointments and construction and property at Hays UK and Ireland. A version of this article previously appeared on the Hays Viewpoint Blog.