Your Career and COVID-19
The Coronavirus outbreak has brought with it a whole host of unpleasant side effects, not least of which is a state of uncertainty where employment is concerned. However, in spite of the potential layoffs and hiring freezes taking hold of the global business world, the cogs continue to turn, just perhaps a little more slowly.
So what can candidates do to ward off not only the symptoms of COVID-19 but equally important, bad tidings on the job front? Simon Wright, Director of the global job-board CareersinAudit.com, highlights some key suggestions for professional sustenance in the age of Corona.
Get to know YOU
Use this unadulterated time to refamiliarise yourself with yourself. Go through your CV, your LinkedIn profile, your cover letter. Do you know every inch of your experience? The areas you’re strongest in? Your vulnerabilities? What about great examples to illustrate your skills and strengths? Take this time as an opportunity to get to really know the product you’re planning to pitch to a potential employer. Something that is even more crucial in the current environment, which will task you with the added pressure of having to sell yourself via a screen or phone if you’re currently looking for a new role.
Virtual Interview 101
Phone and online interviews, though historically used throughout the recruitment process, have now become the new standard given the majority of companies are facilitating remote working across the board.
The Voice: Treat the phone interview as you would an audition for Will.i.am. You have a few moments to engage and hook your interviewer into wanting to hear more from you. It is imperative you stand out and at this point, though the information you’re conveying is important, it’s how you deliver it that will turn that proverbial chair around. For most jobs, communication skills are key, and this is your chance to demonstrate them.
Screen Time: The likes of Zoom, Skype, FaceTime and so on have come into their own during this global pandemic, connecting people the world over. To prepare for your online interview you first need to get comfortable with the technology you’ll be using. Do an audio and visual check ahead of time. Find a relatively uncluttered spot in your house. Be ready 5 minutes ahead of time. Use headphones as they’ll improve the clarity and sound. Prepare as though it were an in-person interview, and that includes what you wear. Things may have assumed an air of informality but don’t let that cloud your interview mentality, it is still an interview.
Don’t Stop the Search
It may be tempting to put your job search on hiatus along with everything else, but our advice is, don’t. The candidates that show willing, determination and persistence in the face of a challenge are those likeliest to succeed and impress future employers. Not to mention you may find your target industry or company not slowing down in the face of economic distress; hiring originates with the company’s strategy, not with external events alone. Rather, what you may encounter is a heightened sense of competition within the candidate market. The truth is most companies may still be adjusting to the new ‘work from home’ status quo meaning their priority is with the needs of their existing employees over the hiring of new ones.
What can you do? Follow up frequently though considerately. If you make it to interview stage, ask what the next steps will be at the end of the meeting. Focus in on examples of where you’ve overcome challenging situations, particularly those that have resulted in a profit and/or advantage for the business, and emphasise your experience and ease with working remotely to reassure them of your ability to fit into the new normal.
Build your Network
Tap into LinkedIn, it is a valuable resource of opportunity, especially now. Update your profile, reconnect with your network, share relevant content, join the discussion, and make yourself visible to the people and companies you want to work for.
Do your Homework
This event could actually help you gain an insight into the company culture. From the way the leadership handles the crisis to its treatment of employees; the approach a business takes can tell you a lot about what you could expect of their typical ethos. Regular news searches on your target companies will keep you informed of how they’re navigating this situation; information you can use to illustrate your points at interview and demonstrate your awareness around the issues the business is facing during the pandemic.
Polish up your Skillset
If nothing else, this time may present a good opportunity to evaluate your skills and the areas you may need to improve to move with the evolving business landscape. Spend this time matching your skillset with the job descriptions you’re interested in, which will identify the gaps in your strength areas and let you know where some extra training and/or qualifications could bolster your CV. There are plenty of free online courses so have a search for some that could be useful.
Overall, don’t lose hope, instead channel your energies into the areas you can control. The most important thing is to stay top of mind. Nurture valuable relationships now and they may just open doors once we’re on the other side of this crisis.