Last spring, as part of EM’s pandemic programming to support our consultant community, I was one of two career coaches that had the opportunity to coaching sessions with EM consultants. My co-coach Pam Farone excelled at helping people identify their strengths and superpowers, while I was more focused on challenging people to really think about what their ideal work scenario would be.
This is an unprecedented time, and it’s tough out there. But there is also some upside. I worked with many people who have wanted to make a shift for a long time, as well as people who had just been going from role to role based on referrals from their network. This crisis spurred them to be more intentional and go after the type of work and positions that they really wanted.
I’m happy to report that as we settle into fall, I’m seeing a steady stream of messages from people who’ve landed positions. Based on the work I did, here are some of the things I’d like to share with anyone who’s still out there looking, or who just wants to make a change:
1. Show your passion for the company.
The job seekers who I have seen have success in the pandemic job market are the ones who are focused on the roles and the companies they want and have a plan to go after them. They picked a company and they joined all the networking groups that they could. For every person they talked to at the company, they asked for three more people that they could talk to. They knew the exact position, the exact company, how their strengths fit, and they tailored all of their stories around it. They did the work that few other candidates are willing to do. This may be the time to choose quality over quantity in your applications, focusing on the type of company where you really hope to land, and then using your passion to stand out in the market.
2. Have an abundance mindset.
Don't get frozen thinking there is scarcity in the market. Many industries are still hiring and restructuring. There are still thousands of jobs posted each day and skilled work is still needed. If you are finding that roles that would be perfect except you’re a couple of skills short, this may be the time to uplevel your skills and become a better fit for the companies that are hiring now. There is a job for you. It may take a bit longer and you may have to put in a little extra work, but those who do are finding success.
3. Make your LinkedIn profile shine.
LinkedIn allows you to add features such as blog posts, links to pages, and a cover image. This is your opportunity to bring your resume to life and to show off your best work. If you don’t have anything, you may need to get creative and write something, or produce a video. One person I worked with who has a foreign sounding name used video successfully to show how fluent and well spoken he is to help reduce recruiter assumptions.
Select a profile photo that is high quality — don’t try to hide behind a grainy old photo. Use your header image to provide a memorable message and image that you want to be known by. These images and your tagline are your three-second first impression, so take time to make them reflect who you are and what diversifies you from other candidates.
4. Sort through your generalist bag for specialties.
If you are a generalist, it probably means that you have interacted with a lot of skill sets that a lot of other people haven't. It also means you might have some trouble figuring out how to position yourself when job reqs are so specific. Highlight your experience with the specialities they’re looking for. Consider the stories and attributes of the roles you have been involved in and use them to create a compelling position about why you are a good fit for the position and bring even more to the table by leveraging your breadth of experience.
5. Don’t let ageism get you down.
Fear of ageism came up in 80 percent of my sessions — from both directions: they won’t hire me because I’m too young, and they won’t hire me because I’m too old. The reality is that there is a lot of work to do in this space but there are still many companies that value age-diversity in their workforce. Do a bit of homework on the culture of the company and consider if it will be a fit for you. Check Glassdoor to see if there are any red flags about ageism. And, most of all, know that if you are not applying because of the fear of ageism then you will never have a chance to meet the companies who will hire you, and value you, at any age.
6. Go the extra mile.
This is a competitive environment, and you need to go all out preparing for interviews, bringing your best self to attempt to outshine the other candidates. Prepare, lay out, and press your outfit the day before. Consider upgrading your laptop camera and microphone if they are not sharp. Prepare the background for your Zoom call. Research the company and the position. Most importantly, go over the job description and practice telling stories about how you fit the role, drawing in your past experience for support. Your interview will be more memorable with the use of storytelling.
7. Leverage your network.
Remember that the know, like and trust factor is accelerated through relationships. Reach out to your network and let them know you are seeking work. Post on your LinkedIn page to remain on top of mind with your contacts. Read and react and comment on the posts of your network to deepen the relationship and open doors to deeper conversations, referrals, and opportunities.
8. Google yourself.
Consider the hiring manager and recruiter's journey as they look at your application, resume, LinkedIn profile, website, and maybe even your social media. What are they seeing and experiencing? Are there videos on your LinkedIn to show them how you present, or blog articles to show them how you write? Are they able to get a sense of your personality? Is it consistent across your social platforms, and your resume? Do they see the intention of your overall brand? Or is it a mish mash of different photos and information?
It’s a lot easier to find a job when times are good. The downside of that can sometimes be that we don’t take the time to polish our professional presence, or to think and listen to ourselves about what we really want. We can’t change much about our current situation, but what we can do is take the time and invest in ourselves and our careers. I’ve had the privilege to learn and watch many people succeed in winning just the position they wanted by following the above tips. Though the day to day of the job search can be disheartening, remember that if you do what winning players do, you will also become a winning player.
If you find yourself in need of clarity, direction or encouragement and a second set of eyes on your Resume, LinkedIn & Personal Brand consider investing in a career coaching package to help you sharpen your career search.