How has networking or job searching changed since lockdown restrictions went into effect?
Not surprisingly, networking has been disrupted considerably. Gone are the opportunities to network at business and social events – often leading to random encounters that open new doors and opportunities. “Coffee” meetings remain rare. However, while the pandemic has closed certain doors and networking opportunities, it has opened up a new one.
Executives and hiring managers are now all set up and very accustomed to meetings on Zoom or similar platforms. With executives traveling less, they are in town and have freed up time that used to be spent traveling to airports and flying. The opportunity now is to get introduced to these executives, or introduce yourself, and work to get 15-minutes of video time. A warm introduction from a mutual connection will make this more likely.
That said, if you are targeting the right kind of organizations – where you clearly bring relevant skills – you will find that leading companies remain active in talent identification.
What can job seekers do to set themselves apart now that the job search process is almost fully online?
Do your research. Identify around 10 organizations that you feel could be a great fit – both because they are of interest to you and because you could bring relevant skills and experience. Then begin to map out these organizations – do you have any close connections that can help with an introduction? Who are the key hiring managers in your area? Read up on the organization and then tailor your approaches to show that you both understand the organization and how you might contribute to it.
Stay in touch – your first approach is unlikely to be your last. Keep an active eye on their opportunities to see where they might be growing or evolving.
What advice do you have for job seekers who may be feeling application or online fatigue?
Understand that you are not the only person experiencing these feelings. Millions have lost their jobs while many more are being very cautious in their hiring. Lots of talented people are out of work and finding that next opportunity will be a challenge.
- You may need to take a step back, take a slightly more junior role, in order to move ahead.
- You may want to use some of this time to obtain additional education to help open up new opportunities and sectors.
- You may want to target sectors that are thriving or that have been less impacted by the pandemic – this industry shift may require you to be flexible in the type of roles you look at.
What are some of the skills that job seekers can highlight? What are you looking for in an employee?
The pandemic has really highlighted the need for employees that are flexible, innovative, comfortable with ambiguity, and agile in the face of rapid developments. Self-motivated, driven and committed employees stand out. Have some of your references comment on your skills on your LinkedIn recommendations sections, and put some concrete examples of your skills in your resume using past accomplishments.
About the Author
Brent Cameron, MBA ’06 is currently the Board Chair for Boyden Canada and Managing Partner in Vancouver. Boyden is a global executive search firm with 65 offices in 40 countries, consistently ranking in the top 10 executive search firms in the world.