Author: Nat Jones
COVID-19 has forced everyone to be flexible and adaptable as business continues. In particular, it’s changed the ways that job seekers must approach the market. This blog considers a revised, constantly evolving environment for job seekers, or as we call them in the recruiting business, “candidates”.
Because of the Coronavirus and follow-up containment efforts, the job seeker, or candidate population, has grown quickly. In recent Bureau of Labor Statistics’ findings, “total nonfarm payroll employment fell by 20.5 million in April, and the unemployment rate rose to 14.7 percent.” In some states, as many as one in four people are now unemployed. It really doesn’t matter which industry we are focused on because the strain extends beyond restaurants, hotels and retail.
At the same time, those working from home are taking stock. Gainfully employed, and adapting to our new, strange business world, most are feeling better about their quality of life situation. Out from under the watchful eye of their employer, more freedom exists and there’s no gossip to sidestep at the water cooler. Not only are people enjoying more time at home with their families, but it’s much easier to decide to dip their toes into the job market and see what’s out there. Sure, many are happy to have stability and income, but never has it been easier to look for a job (and interview!) than right now.
With most earning their paycheck from home, the line between work and family has never been closer, leading most to reflect on their emotional happiness. Think about this: how much time is spent commuting, sitting in meetings, or maneuvering the stress and the politics of a physical office? Removed from the office setting, there is certainly less of a “polarized focus” where we can all become “buried” in the work. What’s the typical pre-COVID side-effect of this? People push off their unhappiness and career goals. Sure, we all have many conference calls and virtual meetings, but the privacy and freedom presented now is different from before. Whatever resources one chooses to elevate their career situation, there is a newfound freedom to explore them all.
Interview Process Innovation
Even as businesses start reopening in some parts of the country, the movement to virtual interviewing and hiring has been happening since the 2nd week of March. There are small pockets of companies finishing up interviews in the office, but that may not work for everyone. Tech-savvy clients have been out in front of the pack since the start, but expect companies to be better equipped at virtual interviewing from here on out.
So, what does this mean for eager, energized candidates that are finally ready to do something about their professional unhappiness? Well, most interviews are taking place over platforms - like Zoom, Skype, BlueJeans, and MicroSoft Teams - so the ability to put oneself out there is suddenly easier and faster. However, candidates must remember that the general guidelines virtually are just as important as in-person. It may seem easier to run a job search from the privacy of one’s home office, but companies still expect a prepared, clean presentation style from beginning to end. Here are a few suggestions should you decide to engage in a job search virtually:
- Your. Internet. Connection.
- Understand what technology you are using! Ensure your camera, setting, backdrop and lighting are sufficient and professional. Nothing worse than someone adjusting the angle, lighting or checking their look AFTER the interview has begun. Yikes!
- Dress professionally. Even though you’re at home, don't get lazy. You should like the way you look, if nothing else than to raise your own confidence level.
- Practice makes perfect. Be ready. Preparation leaves the door open. Start professional and remember that other candidates are working harder than ever to adapt to this new virtual process. Practice eye contact with your camera and remember that you want to be looking at the camera MORE than the screen!
- Be humble, flexible and understanding – everyone is adapting and learning.
- Stay positive, engaging and be appreciative of the opportunity.
Beyond mastering the virtual technology platforms, employers have started adjusting their interview strategy. As an example: a candidate may have had a phone screen, and 2-3 interviews onsite before. Now it’s maybe a phone call and a handful of video interviews. More steps, yes, but employers are finding it easier to manage this process and the candidates are seamlessly adhering to these increased requests and requirements. Removed temporarily are the days of carving out a half-day to get to the employer’s office and meet a group of interviewed over four hours. Employers realize that candidates are enjoying their newfound flexibility and unique accessibility to opportunities, and expect them to follow their new processes.
What else does this mean for job seekers?
Bottom line: You may need to perform more steps at a quicker pace in order to land that job. But your schedule as a job seeker is suddenly more flexible when you are home with privacy. Don’t be afraid to ask what the employer’s timeframe is, or how they wish to proceed. Do your best to provide immediate, convenient options to be available for consideration.
Instead of employers trying to negotiate invites for interviews with potential peers, managers, and division leads AT the office, they may break them down into individual interviews, or small video panels, depending on team and company size. As a candidate, without an in-office interview requirement, dial up your level of adaptability and flexibility and show you understand this new style of evaluation.
Options Available But New Expectations
Our lives have certainly changed over the past few months. We all want to believe that the silver linings are here and will continue to present themselves. This crisis has changed the way we think about work, family and overall happiness. Talent acquisition, retention and development will certainly never be the same. It will become imperative for employers attracting talent to adapt to new ideas and expand on their offerings and flexibility. Some have learned how connected they like to be while in the office, while others are enjoying putting their children to bed. There is no right or wrong, but there is an evolving re-definition of what work will be like. And, that reality is yet to be defined.
What job seekers should keep in mind:
When COVID struck, many just assumed all hiring was on hold. Don’t believe the hype. Sure, some were and still are delaying hiring. But there are still plenty of companies that have decisions to make, headcount they are very serious about making, and a business to run. No one has experienced quite this kind of hiring journey before. This is an already fluid situation which will continue to evolve as each month passes. If you are job hunting, take this time to demonstrate that you understand and can adapt to this different level of recruiting and hiring. Employers are looking for it.
Sought-after candidates being recruited today may be onboarded and start a new job remotely. That’s a game changer in terms of integrating in a team or office culture. Find out during the interview process what you can expect in terms of virtual recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and ongoing development. Ask questions and remember – we are all learning as we go. A new generation exists of college graduates getting their first job out of school and face the challenge of adapting to a “real job” while working from home. So, if you are a new hire, it’s going to be just as important to remember to show up, work hard, learn new systems and meet those deadlines. Virtually, of course.
At Cordia Resources, we too have had to be flexible and adapt to this new environment in order to support our clients and candidates, and keep them updated on what we’re seeing in the marketplace. Our experts provide unique advice and ensure talented candidates find the right fit. As a team with a vast collective background of industries and expertise, we provide unique advice and ensure our clients get the best talented candidates to support their business needs.
Nat co-leads the Permanent Recruiting and Placement Operation for the Cordia Resources team. He helps lead the Washington, DC office and focuses on CFO/VP level searches for all industries. Nat launched his 20-year professional career in finance and accounting recruiting/staffing providing permanent and temporary operational support and is an expert with driving outstanding relationships and creating the right match from beginning-to-end. He is a leader and teacher in all facets of the recruitment and placement process, including talent sourcing, cold calling, referral generation, account management and service, deal negotiations, and process quality control.