Career Coach, Korn Ferry Advance
This Week in Leadership (July 19 - July 25)
What the Delta variant means for office returns. Solving the labor shortage with returnships. Plus, tips for how to be a great board director.
The pandemic has been draining on a lot of things, including, it seems, the desire to find a more satisfying job.
More than 75% of people surveyed recently by LinkedIn said they were in their current jobs more for stability than anything else. Meanwhile, 15% said they were waiting for the job market to improve before looking for new work, and another 14% said they were too burned out to switch jobs.
But experts say people shouldn’t just endure the doldrums; it’s actually a good time to go on an aggressive job search. The disruptions brought about by the pandemic have caused countless organizations to reevaluate the types of roles and skills they need for the future. And experts say these firms are about to start looking (or, in some cases, have already begun looking) for people with the experiences and traits that will help them in the post-pandemic world. “If you’re sitting and waiting, then it’s too late,” says Stacey Perkins, a career coach with Korn Ferry Advance.
Aggressive searches don’t involve firing off resumes at every opening; rather, they are strategic, involve homework, and usually require talking to a lot of people. Some steps to take now, ahead of the expected rebound.
Do some research.
It’s fair to say that the pandemic has impacted nearly every aspect of how organizations operate. “Organizations aren’t waiting until after the pandemic is over to figure out what’s next,” says Deborah Brown, a Korn Ferry associate client partner in the firm’s Leadership Acceleration practice.
However, it’s up to job seekers to figure out what those firms are doing. List the companies and industries you are interested in, then set up Google alerts on these targeted organizations and industries, Brown says. Learn about the challenges and opportunities they currently face. The knowledge will help job seekers develop perspective and become good fodder for questions to ask during networking conversations and even job interviews.
Network, network, network.
You might have heard this before: networking is important. Reaching out to people in the industries and fields you are interested in helps build connections that can last a lifetime. But who’s willing to meet up to have a conversation while COVID-19 is still a threat?
Experts say candidates can turn this environment into an advantage. There is no expectation right now to meet up in person. At the same time, many professionals are still working remotely, unencumbered by commuting, traveling to clients, or long work lunches. Scheduling a networking conversation may be considerably easier. “Now you have little pockets of time,” Brown says.
Just like it was pre-pandemic, successful networking is about building relationships, not asking for a new job immediately. Make a list of the possible things you can do for people in your network. Perhaps you can make a connection to an important partner in someone’s field. Or point to a little-noticed but important new research paper. Even small things, experts say, if done sincerely and are genuinely meaningful to the other person, can jump-start your networking.
Do a skills inventory.
The researching and networking will give job seekers an idea of what skills they’ll need to land a new role. If you already have those skills, make sure that any certifications are up to date, Perkins says.
Experts say now is a good time for candidates to do some self-reflection to determine which of those skills they currently lack. Once that’s done, they can then pursue a variety of low-cost skill-building options. Online videos can teach people how to become more efficient by using spreadsheets and other business software tools. Multiple colleges offer relatively inexpensive courses on business-centric topics. Indeed, a job seeker’s current firm may offer online classes in a variety of fields.
Don’t discount the so-called “soft” skills either, Brown says. Now’s a chance to learn how to be a better public speaker and an active listener. More importantly, candidates should take some time to understand their own emotions, which have an outsized impact on professional performance.
Update your “marketing material.”
It may be trite to call a resume a marketing brochure, but that’s essentially what a good one is, highlighting to a prospective employer the potential benefits of hiring you. But these days that involves more than just updating the dates. Career experts say a resume should instead showcase a person’s accomplishments in each job, using data and statistics to highlight successes. The best resumes will highlight relevant skills and showcase strong teamwork skills. (Junior employees will show how they worked as a team, and senior executives can show how well they ran teams.) After you finish the updates, consider showing your resume to a colleague or a professional contact you trust to get feedback.
Your marketing material also includes your professional social media presence, experts say. Your LinkedIn or other professional pages should reflect your career accomplishments, of course, but they are also is a way to share interesting articles about industry trends, comment about various jobs, ask questions, or even just congratulate people on their own promotions or job switches. All of these are ways to keep your name at the back of people’s heads. “It’s about exposure right now, being exposed to as many people as possible,” Perkins says.
Practice job interviews.
Video interviews were already gaining traction among many recruiters because they can eliminate the expense of bringing candidates to the office. One 2019 survey indicated that 47% of big employers already used video interviewing for some roles, and experts agree that video calls will only increase after the pandemic.
Candidates can practice doing a video interview with a friend. Video conferencing software from Zoom and other providers is free, in one form or another; friends can judge one another on how each look and sound. In addition, apps from Korn Ferry Advance and others can help evaluate a candidate’s responses, eye contact, and other essential metrics and give feedback for a candidate to improve.