Job hunting is tough. There is no doubt about that. But job hunting during a pandemic, in circumstances that most of us have never seen during our lifetime, is something else entirely. Fewer companies hiring, more competition for every role and ongoing uncertainty has meant that unemployment rates are rising. More and more people find themselves immediately available and searching for a new role.
Earlier this year, I too was a job seeker. Having left my employer of 8 years in March, I accepted a new role which was cancelled days before I was due to start. I eventually started with the company in May in a different role, only to be let go 6 weeks later, in June. Lockdown was still in full swing, and a global recession was on the horizon.
With no warning, I found myself suddenly unemployed for the 2nd time in 3 months. Prior to this, I had enjoyed a good work history. I wasn’t a “jumper”, moving from role to role. I was loyal, hardworking and I thought, an asset to any employer. Now, I was nothing. I was stunned, shocked. There were a few tears. I felt worthless and as if my career was over.
But ultimately, I had to find a way out of my situation. Sitting around feeling sorry for myself would not pay the bills! With recruitment being one of the hardest hit sectors this year, and many experienced recruiters like myself being in the same boat, I made the decision to take a temporary role to support myself whilst the world got back on its feet. I registered with a local agency, and accepted a position as an Admin Officer with the Department of Work and Pensions in Cannock, processing Universal Credit claims. The role happened to be within walking distance of our house, so my travelling expenses were minimal. The contract was due to end in October 2020, which would give me 4 months breathing space to conduct my job search, with limited pressure on my finances. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I made this year. Not only did I meet lots of people who, just like me, were experienced professionals waiting for the market to pick up. I also found that I enjoyed the work, and helping others less fortunate than myself gave me a genuine sense of purpose. It’s amazing what a brisk walk into town each morning will do to lift your spirits too!
9 weeks later, to my surprise and considerable joy, I was offered my role at Namos. The rest, as they say, is history! I have only had positive experiences since that day in June when I decided to turn things around for myself. It wasn’t easy, and I can’t sit here and tell you that there will not be challenges ahead as we move towards 2021. But I can tell you what worked for me, and give you some honest advice on your approach to job searching during these unprecedented times.
Planning and Preparation
- Begin with a plan, preferably in the form of a list that you can tick off as you go. This approach helped me as it allowed me to see clear evidence of everything I’d achieved that day. A list will help you to focus and stay positive.
- Upload your CV to the major job boards (Total Jobs, Monster, CV Library). Employers can view your details and contact you if a suitable role is available. They can also contact you for any future opportunities.
- Set up alerts with these job boards, which will notify you of any new roles within your sector.
- Make sure your contact details are up to date, and that you have a professional sounding email address. No one wants to employ Babygotback@hotmail.com, trust me!
- Spend some time tweaking your LinkedIn profile. Your LinkedIn profile is often the first engagement employers will have with you, and it is imperative that it accurately reflects your current and past experience. It’s a good idea to make sure your profile photo is up to date too.
- And while we’re on that subject, it’s a good idea to check your personal social media profiles too. Are they set to private? Are any photos or posts you wouldn’t want your employer to see hidden? 91% of employers check a prospective employee’s social media profiles before committing to an offer, so it is extremely important to make sure that you present yourself in a professional light on all social medial channels.
- Make a list of contacts and former colleagues you’ve worked with in the past. Might they be able to help you in your search? Could they give you a recommendation?
Your Job Search
- Take EVERY call. You never know who might be on the end of that phone.
- Likewise, respond to every email or LinkedIn message – even if it’s to say you’re not interested. And send them a LinkedIn connection request. You never know who they might be connected to!
- Consider your core skills. What skills do you have that could be transferred to other industries or roles? Being a recruiter, I’m a natural relationship builder, I’m not afraid of the telephone, and I love to talk (if we’ve worked together, you know this!). All of this made me a natural fit for the public sector.
- Get on the phone! I made a list of every recruitment agency in the local area, sat down on a Monday morning and called every single one. If there is no one in the office, you will most likely get an answering machine message with another number to call. So call that number instead! Don’t give up if you don’t get through the first time, keep trying. If there is no one available, follow up with an email.
- Don’t turn opportunities down just because they are outside of your comfort zone. I stressed for days about joining the DWP, thinking that it would be awful, when it fact it was one of the best decisions I’ve made this year, as it paved the way for me to join Namos a few weeks later. Granted it wasn’t the most interesting work, but the people were great and each day flew by as there was so much going on.
- Don’t be put off by location. Employer attitudes to home working have changed drastically in the last year, and many employers are now open to remote employees. I should know, I’m one of them! If you work in a sector where home working is possible, don’t be afraid to reach out or apply for roles that are not within a daily commutable distance.
- Make a list of the roles you have applied for, and update it each week.
- Be bold. For every job you apply to, reach out to the job poster or hiring manager to introduce yourself! Just a few lines detailing why you would be a good fit for the role will suffice (no need to send them War and Peace).
- Likewise, don’t be put off just because you’re not a 100% match for the role. When I applied to Namos, I had no knowledge of Oracle Applications whatsoever! But my personality, recruitment knowledge and willingness to develop myself shone through. Never count yourself out, focus on the skills you do have rather than the ones you don’t.
- Networking is under-rated, but in a pandemic it is the most important tool you have in your armour. Refer to the list I mentioned during the Planning and Preparation section, and force yourself to contact every single one of those names. What’s the worst that could happen? One of my interviews came via someone I haven’t seen for nearly 10 years!
- Use every connection you have. At best, you’ll achieve your goal of finding a new role. At worst, you might have a nice catch-up with someone you haven’t spoken to for a while.
- Tell everyone you know that you’re looking for a job. The world has become a very different place this year – I personally think it is a kinder, more considerate one. People want to help those in need. I was overwhelmed by how many people rallied around to help me in my hour of need, including recommendations, offers of a reference etc. I was even offered a part time cleaning job by a friend of a friend.
- Treat each day as a new beginning. Get dressed as if you are going to work, sit at a desk and plan how you are going to spend your day. Positive habits breed positive results!
And When A Job Comes Along…
- Practice the same due diligence you would in non-Covid times. Research the company and the recruiter before you commit to anything. Ask to see a job description if one isn’t offered during your initial conversations. Likewise, don’t be afraid to ask questions there is anything you are not sure of.
- Don’t feel that you absolutely must take the first role you are offered. If something doesn’t feel right, ask yourself why that is. Your intuition is very powerful, and it is wise to listen if you feel that this isn’t the right role for you.
- Make yourself available for interviews and discussions with recruiters. Likewise, make sure you have access to Zoom, Skype, Houseparty and Microsoft Teams for any remote-based interviews.
- Tell companies and recruiters if you are working in a temporary role to support yourself. It doesn’t demean you, in fact I found that it had the opposite effect. You took the initiative and stepped outside of your comfort zone to keep a roof above your head, which demonstrates that you are hard working and took an innovative approach to your job search. That can only be a good thing.
- Know your worth. It’s tempting and reasonable to anticipate a pay cut during such unprecedented times, but don’t lower yourself unnecessarily. Consider your monthly expenses: will you need to travel? How far? Will the annual salary cover your bills and mortgage?
- Don’t worry about being on-boarded remotely. Companies like Namos are well-versed in this type of procedure, and speaking from personal experience, it really is incredibly simple. I actually found it easier!
And finally…. Stay positive! You are a talented individual with a wealth of experience. It is the role that has been made redundant, not you. This experience will not define you. Never give up and keep pushing, I promise you will get there in the end.
Good luck for your job search from all at Namos!
If you would like to join our team and have the opportunity to be involved in exciting, challenging and complex projects all over the world, please view our current list of vacancies here.
This post was written by Namos Solutions. They are an exhibitor on the HRTech247 Oracle Partner floor of the Partners Hall. You can visit their HRTech247 exhibition stand here.