As an executive recruiter who’s seeing the hiring shifts first-hand as well as personally adapting to a work-from-home environment, Lindsay Landsberg shares her thoughts on how to stay engaged and in the game.
If you're a job seeker, this is an especially rough time to be looking for a new opportunity. A global health crisis leading to an economic and unemployment nightmare has rocked everyone's confidence. Priorities have changed, timelines are upended, plus networking and interviewing have moved to the virtual space.
As an executive recruiter who’s seeing the executive hiring shifts first-hand as well as personally adapting to a work-from-home environment, here are some thoughts on how to stay engaged and in the game:
Go easy on yourself. We're working from our homes with kids who should be at school, pets who bark during Zoom calls and overburdened Wi-Fi. Then, there's terrifying headlines, stock market nosedives, soaring unemployment and worries about exposure to COVID-19. Feeling anxious, distracted and unproductive is only human and to be expected. Some days will be better than others. The key is to keep moving forward, even if at a slower pace than what is normal for you.
Stay positive. There will be an "after" when we emerge from sheltering in place and the economy begins to rebound, the only question is how quickly. Our lives in shutdown have brought forth some positives: a cleaner environment, a shared sense of humanity, willingness to help one another, time for reflection, greater connection, and appreciation for things we took for granted. If you can stay positive in a negative situation, your eyes will be open to more opportunities and your resilient outlook will make you more attractive to potential employers.
Look for the bright spots. There are some sectors of the economy where business is actually growing: healthcare, teleworking software, home delivery, e-commerce, personal care, food and pharmacy retail, medical supplies, and more. LinkedIn publishes a daily list of companies hiring. Some job functions are more in demand than ever: supply chain, data & analytics, and technology, to name a few. While it will take longer for certain sectors of the economy (examples: travel, hospitality, live events) to rebound, focus your efforts on "fishing where the fish are."
Adjust expectations. The process of looking for a new role now will necessarily be prolonged and full of pauses as events unfold. Expect the process to take longer as decision makers are dispersed and coping with business uncertainty. You'll likely interview via phone or video and it will be a while before you meet anyone in-person. With 20+ million unemployment claims in the U.S., you'll have more competition for opportunities (vs. a year ago when there was record low unemployment). You'll need to be persistent, super-responsive and focused in your activities -- while staying patient with the process.
Polish your skills, or learn new ones. Join webinars on topics that interest you or relate to your industry or job function in order to: a) stay connected and current on specific issues; b) learn something new; or c) join a dialogue. A good place to start is LinkedIn Learning which has a broad offering that you can tailor to your interests.
Personal networking is key. The majority of job-seekers (80% or more) find their roles through personal connections and direct networking. Make a short list of target companies and make it a goal to connect with people at each. A good side effect of sheltering in place is that many decision-makers are actually more open and accessible to job seekers now from their kitchen tables than they might have been at their offices. Make connections now so that you'll be in consideration for roles as soon businesses go back to a "new normal."
Be clear in your intentions. Get very specific about what you are looking for: role, salary, size of company, company life-stage (start-up, growth, established), industry vertical, geography, company culture, etc. The universe is not a mind reader. The clearer you can be to yourself and to your network on what you are looking for, the more successful you will be. Write a list of 30-40 companies where you would love to work. With a narrowed focus, you can then go about learning everything you can about those companies and network your way into conversations to unearth opportunities.
One step at a time. You've heard the adage: "control your effort, the outcome takes care of itself." While there is considerable uncertainty, you can still set activity goals each day. Do some daily outreach and some networking to create momentum toward the opportunity you want. If you feel anxious about your prospects, taking steps, no matter how small, can boost your confidence and create a feeling of progress.