The novel coronavirus has led to massive disruptions globally in every sector from travel to paper products. All things to do with employment will be changed for the unforeseeable future. We’ve done a 180 degree spin from the wave of decreasing employment rates we’ve been riding for over a decade. Even as recent as February of this year unemployment was down to 3.5%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Yet in the midst of business closures, we are staring at a very different landscape.
Much like the trend of multiple careers in a lifetime and a rebirth of entrepreneurial spirit that was spawned from the numerous reorganizations and layoffs companies did after 9/11, this pandemic will forever change the face of work. Within that lies opportunity if you know how to spot it and prepare for it.
Arran Stewart has over a decade of experience in the recruitment industry, as well as being the co-founder of Job.com. His advice is to know that, “even though it’s easy to get baked into all the turmoil, there is a lot going on in the job market that is good. There are industries that are absolutely booming. But the nature of hiring and onboarding will have to change.” He has built his own career from a deep passion for helping people feed their families, and pay their bills. Some of the changes, ideas and tips we discussed are listed below.
- Criteria for desirable candidates is shifting. We are in a world where being able to pivot on a dime and work with people from all walks of life are key ingredients for success. After all, training a technical skill is much easier than teaching someone how to be credible, work well with others and be able to build trust quickly. So how will that impact what employers look for when hiring?
- College degrees will no longer be king. Education will always be critical to a skilled workforce. College degrees will still be mandatory for certain positions and are still a good way to invest in your learning. But they are quickly becoming less of a requirement for non-licensed jobs like many leadership positions. Glassdoor released a report in January listing companies that have recently stopped requiring college degrees. The list includes a diverse range of industries.
- Transferrable skills matter now more than ever. For over a century we’ve been groomed to believe our work experience and titles matter more than how we get our work done. But in reality, transferrable skills are where the gold is. How we work through problems in the face of seemingly unsurmountable roadblocks, communicate with others, even when in conflict and how we come up with creative solutions when resources aren’t readily available, are the key capabilities that makes anyone stand out in their job. Those skills are not as common as you may think and are even more difficult to train in others.
- Professional experience and maturity are in demand. When transitioning from one industry to another, it helps to have a background in business and customer service. People that have seen how organizations work, have some strong lessons under their belt and can handle pressure from a place of maturity are vital in times of uncertainty. Gone are the days that age dictates whether someone can do the job. If you navigate change well, age really is just a number.
- Location is no longer a deal breaker. With so many businesses being thrust into a work from home dynamic, the hesitancy around virtual teams is being forced out of our psyche. Remote work is here and we will never put that genie back in the bottle. This will undoubtedly broaden the landscape of previous geographic limitations to candidates.
- Industry jumping is to be expected. The past ten years has dispelled the tradition of one career in one lifetime. The norm is for people to job hop. After all, if companies are going to be fluid with employment, why shouldn’t the employees do so as well? But industry jumping is still a rarity. However, with the sudden shift that this pandemic is causing, many people will need to leave, temporarily or permanently, their current industry for those that are set to boom in the coming year.
Preparing yourself for this new world of employment is critical for everyone. Arran cautions that, “Whether you’re employed or not, you should be looking into your options. If you’re working in an industry that isn’t set to thrive under these new circumstances, it’s worth being a passive job seeker and having a contingency plan.
It’s a good time to refresh your resume and LinkedIn profile. But a few tweaks may help you distinguish yourself in the pool of candidates.
- Your personal viewpoint gives more insight into what you’re about than a mission statement. Instead of stating that you’re on a mission to get a job at a company that does, insert meaningful work here, share your philosophy on the work you are applying for. How you think about the work tells far more about you than what kind of job you’re hoping to get.
- Impact matters more than tasks. Don’t just list the bullets of what you were responsible for. Describe the key things you accomplished and how that impacted the company you worked for. What issues did you solve for them and what benefits did they see? This could be cost savings, morale boosting or increased efficiency, just to name a few.
- Tell a story vs. giving a list of historical events. Let your resume and profile tell a story of how you’ve used your transferrable skills to build your career so far. It’s less about where you worked and the titles you held. Instead, focus on showing how each job was a space for you to grow, learn and broaden your capabilities to help others through the work you were hired to do.
- Use the cover letter to connect with the purpose of the company vs. talk about yourself. When putting a cover letter together, keep in mind, this is your chance to build a personal connection between you and the company you are looking to work with. This shouldn’t be a long lengthy description of who you are and why they should hire you. Instead, demonstrate an authentic interest in what they do, connecting their mission with your own.
- Reach out to recruiters. Take the time to research who the recruiters are for the company you are interested in. You can reach out to them via LinkedIn or many have their direct email listed in their profile. Put together a quick email expressing your genuine interest in working with their organization and how that aligns with your purpose. Ask if they could either assist you or get you connected with someone who can. Worst case, they don’t respond. Best case, you get an inside connection and fast track to getting an interview.
Interviews have been shifting for some time. Video interviewing has been around since 2009 but it will now be a major vs. minor component. Keep these following tips in mind.
- Don’t wait until you have to look for a new job. If you’re currently employed, don’t assume you can just ignore your interviewing skills. Brush up now by discussing why you do the work you do with your peers, friends, family, etc. Get used to telling the story around the choices you’ve made.
- Get comfortable with video interviewing. Develop a savviness for how to present yourself via video. If you are uncomfortable with the technology, start using it now. Get used to seeing your own face when discussing yourself. Also consider video taping yourself since many employers request a recorded session of you answering questions as part of their screening process.
- Broaden your scope of possibilities. Start to look at roles outside of your driving commute range, even international prospects. Look into other industries to see how your skills may transfer.
- Upskill for industries that are poised for growth. Start to look into courses and certifications for jobs that are tied to industries that are set to boom, such as telecommunications, healthcare, social media, grocery, pharmaceutical, etc.
- Use social media to demonstrate your professional views. Ensure your social media, even beyond your LinkedIn profile, aligns with what you want employers to see. Also, take advantage of the exposure by sharing your own viewpoints on topics relevant to your industry, including posting articles and participating in chat conversations.
Making your career recession proof involves many of the same principles that companies have to think about. Diversify your experience and exposure. Always be growing your network. And plan for the future while taking care of the present. And as Arran Stewart called out, “Ask yourself what people are using. What do they need? Go to where the demand is growing.”
Read the full article in Forbes