In the best of times, job search can be very daunting and confusing to many. But in extremely uncertain and rapidly evolving times like these, professionals can feel at a complete loss as to how to move forward in their efforts to job search, interview, network, communicate a compelling personal brand and land a great new role.
To delve deeper into the do’s and don’ts of job search during the coronavirus pandemic, I caught up with Lisa Hufford today, who is founder and CEO of Simplicity Consulting—the Pacific Northwest’s preferred marketing and business consultancy for the new world of work. Simplicity has been named to the Inc. 5000 list for five years running as one of the fastest-growing private companies in America, and Hufford has been recognized as an Inc. Top 10 Female Entrepreneur and an E&Y Entrepreneurial Winning Woman. She’s a champion for professionals transitioning to consulting and advises companies how to build on-demand, project-based teams that add immediate value.
Here’s what Hufford shares about best practices in these times for your job search process:
Kathy Caprino: Are organizations still hiring during this crisis? If so, what fields and industries?
Lisa Hufford: Though it varies by location and industry, there are companies that are still hiring right now. Look for those companies that are uniquely positioned to add value in our new normal environment. Tech companies are largely well-equipped to transition their workforce to remote roles and are trying to maintain business as usual.
Tableau Software, for example, is actively hiring globally. There are also a number of roles that have surged in demand due to this health crisis—ranging from CPA or store associate to healthcare specialist or warehouse manager. Amazon, for example, has seen a huge demand spike and is hiring as a result. At Simplicity, we’ve seen an influx in communications roles as companies work to keep their employees, customers, and constituents informed in this rapidly-evolving pandemic and a focus on virtual events.
Caprino: How can people best handle a job search right now if they’re employed but want out of their current job?
Hufford: Let me challenge this by asking, are you sure you want to leave your job? Take some time to reflect on your strengths and the successes you want to achieve, and then ask yourself if you can create that where you are. Every job has its pros and cons, so before walking away in the hopes that the grass is greener somewhere else—and in the midst of economic uncertainty, no less!—see if you can make your current role more fulfilling. Whether it’s working with your manager to carve out time for a project that lights you up or mentally connecting elements of your role with your personal values, there are usually opportunities to shape your role (or your perspective) in small, but meaningful ways.
Caprino: What about those who are currently unemployed and it’s urgent for them to find employment—how do they handle the job search process now?
Hufford: My advice for finding a job is the same as it always has been: Take intentional action.
First, you need to define your personal brand and tell your story, framed by your past successes, on your LinkedIn profile. There’s a lot of noise right now, so showcase your strengths and passion with clarity and laser focus, so that you stand out to the right hiring manager.
Then, put on your detective hat, and do your research. Discover what companies are hiring for your skills. Use LinkedIn to learn who is working at these companies and reach out to schedule 15-minute chats with warm contacts to learn more about the work they do and the company they work for. Keep in mind: You are not asking for a job or an interview! You are collecting information to learn if the company and the role are a fit.
Set goals for yourself about how many reach outs you will do each day. If your situation is urgent, then consider this is your full-time job. While you can submit your resume blindly to jobs, this has been proven to be the least effective approach, so I encourage you to focus your energies on connecting with your network.
And be mindful that organizations are operating in business-as-unusual. Yes, they’re working remotely and keeping business-critical operations running. But they’re also adjusting to this abrupt new normal and working hard to put out fires and keep their people, clients, and partners informed. And, like you, they’re also bearing the mental load of this current environment. So recognize that things might move slower than usual, and acknowledge that the people you’re reaching out to likely have less bandwidth right now.
Caprino: How can we build our personal brands and get more noticed, for when the job market does open up?
Hufford: If you are an experienced professional, you already have a personal brand—you just need to articulate it. My Personal Brand Playbook guides you through five simple steps to defining and sharing your unique personal brand. I recommend starting there: You can access the Playbook here (free download) or watch the on-demand workshop.
Once you’ve defined your brand, it’s critical to tell a consistent brand story—from your LinkedIn headline to your profile bio, that’s echoed in your resume, website or portfolio, cover letters, introductory emails, and so on. At every touch point, tell the story of who you are and why you do the work you do with confidence and credibility.
Caprino: How can we best demonstrate our value now to organizations that we’d eventually like to work for?
Hufford: LinkedIn is a powerful tool for learning and building your network.
Focus on developing relationships with people at organizations you’re interested in working for, and once those relationships are established, express your interest in working and ask them to pass along full-time positions or contract roles that open up.
That second piece is important: When teams lack open headcount, they may allocate funds to hire a consultant on a project, so make yourself available to all options—not just traditional full-time employment.
Caprino: Any other powerful tips and strategies for job seekers right now?
Hufford: You have options. In addition to traditional full-time employment positions, many companies have a large community of suppliers who work on project-based contracts. Find out who the agencies, staffing companies, and consultancies are in your city, and contact the recruiters. You can often find work for large companies as a contractor or consultant. It’s a great way to learn more about the company, gain skills and expertise, and build your network. It’s also typically a much quicker hiring cycle—days or weeks as opposed to the months that it can take for a full-time position.
Last but not least, keep a positive attitude and keep moving forward. Gamify the process and try to get through as many “no’s” as you can until you get to a “yes.” I believe there is a great job for each person, and it’s up to each of us to define the work we want to do, showcase the business impact of our work, and keep searching for that hiring manager who says “YOU are the perfect fit for this role.”
This is a season, and we will get through this together.
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