What job seeking looks like in 2021
2020 went by almost in an instant for me. This was partly due to family reasons, combined with a busy time for the business.
But for all of us, the experience of recruitment and selection has changed, and it is likely that at least some of these changes will be for the long term.
It’s different in each sector
Recent times have shown much disparity of impacts from the nasty virus. If you work in hospitality then your options have been more limited than if you work in accountancy, management consultancy, digital media etc. And if you work in healthcare (as some of my clients do) then you have my utmost respect and appreciation.
Not all businesses took a hit, but many were hit hard.
From my point of view it was more about doing different work than doing less work. Up until March 2020 I had been doing huge amounts of interview coaching – a part of the job that I really enjoy because you see a marked change in the other person. When I write your CV and it gets you interviews, I don’t share that experience with you in the same way, and I rely on my clients to come back and tell me the results. (Please do so, by the way).
But from the end of March 2020 the uncertainty was palpable to me and it was reflected in much lower demand for interview coaching. This turned around as the months went by and I got used to preparing people for video interviews by practicing video interviews.
On the other hand, my CV writing service continued strongly. All in all, I had a 28% drop in enquiries for the 9 months from March 2020 onwards. But interestingly, the number of new clients stayed exactly the same in that period. More of the people who enquired chose to work with me. I must say thank you to those clients for choosing me.
By now it’s busier than ever, so something must be happening in the economy.
Recruitment feels more remote but you can still succeed
Applicants have always felt that when they sent their job application, it disappeared into a big black hole. Well, that feeling, and that reality in many cases hasn’t changed. Still, you might get that call for the interview (and my clients almost always do), but the interview that you are invited to will be different.
Is a video interview harder than a face to face interview? I would say so, yes. We have all met someone in a room before, but we may never have spoken to someone through a computer screen. And those of us who have done it haven’t done much of it comparatively.
So, the art of persuading someone to choose you via videocall is much more uncertain. The principles are the same, but it’s just harder to build a rapport for the first time with someone this way. You have fewer options and opportunities to make an impact with your non-verbal communication.
But, that is not to say that you can’t succeed. I’ve had success with several clients after preparing them via Zoom and the like. When they sat down to do the Zoom with the employer, they were as ready for it as they would have been for the face to face interview of the past.
Practicing via video for video interviews is highly recommended.
I’m sure that for many of us, the hybrid workplace is the future. There are times when being face to face with colleagues is highly beneficial. And the collaboration that comes from working side by side with others can’t be matched.
Even those of us who love working from home shouldn’t do it all the time, unless we really have to.
It’s likely that there are separate benefits from being in the office also. If you are on a business park you will get to know people from other business. If you are in a city centre, you will have opportunities before, during, and after work to do lots of other things. Even randomly bumping into friends, colleagues or even clients is valuable.
But there is definitely an acceptance that going to the office 5 days per week for no good reason is a thing of the past. Like anything else, you should not withhold cooperation with your employer where there is a good reason. So if it’s team meetings, general collaboration, supervising others, or just maintaining a number of people on a rota basis to be responsive to clients, these things should be done with enthusiasm.
Adapting your skills
A very positive change is likely to be that we stop categorizing people by the industry in which they work. It must be accepted that skillsets can travel. And of course there can even be advantages of bringing in suitably qualified people who have experienced other environments.
So, how do you make your skills transferable?
You have to make it make sense to your next employer. What were your overriding responsibilities? How did it impact the organisation? Which aspects are transferable to the new environment? If you have been describing these things in industry-specific, or even employer-specific language then this needs to change. It’s about more than buzzwords. You can’t be superficial here. Instead, take the time to understand what the new employer is looking to achieve, and choose your examples carefully.
Don’t just describe your skills. If you do that, you are going to come across the same as all of the other applicants, and thus make it easy for the employer to choose the person already in the industry. To them, it’s the safe bet. If, on the other hand, you set out unique achievements that are relevant to the new environment, then you will be elevating yourself above the industry insiders who have no done the same.