There are still a lot of unknowns. Yet one thing is for sure - we went from a massive shortage of qualified workers to a surge of unemployed workers almost overnight. We don't know what this means long-term because of the slow-to-open economies and the impact on businesses. It will certainly come with significant loss of small businesses, manufacturing contracts, and ultimately the need for a lot of jobs.
While on lockdown, we've seen a range of responses from both employees and employers as the new realities unfold. Some employees have remained "essential" or worked from home. Others remained on the payroll - from full to partial to not working - thanks to the CARES act. Many lost their jobs and joined the historic ranks of the millions of unemployed. Because of the financial buffers offered by the federal government, we haven't felt the rush by most to go find a job...but that time is just around the corner.
Most of us had to compete for our jobs at some point...but many younger job seekers have never had to compete - I mean really compete in a scarce world for jobs. Jobs have been abundant for the past 20 years. Though the global economy will eventually recover and things will shift, job seekers will need to employ a new set of skills they may not be used to.
Here are 5 things to consider doing right now to improve your chances.
If it's been a while since you've "freshened up", it's time to bring your materials up to date. If your resume and profile look like they are from the 1990s, let's remodel. For example, if you still tout that great IT project that is still talking about programming in DOS...it's definitely time to bring it up to speed. You cannot simply take what you had before and add to it. You need to sound new, fresh, and current. Remember - you're competing with everybody...and that means everyone from 5 generations. It's not whether you're right or wrong, smart or dumb, cool or nerdy. It's about being the right person for the right job at the right time. Make sure your resume, profile, and overall "look" looks like you're applying for a job TODAY.
The Early Bird...
You can't wait until the unemployment payments run out to begin to look. Others may think they can take their time to find a job when it's convenient. Some may believe that since they make more in unemployment (thanks to the stimulus checks), they can just wait it out...and then start to apply. With millions of unemployed people out there, that's a terrible strategy. While others are in a "wait and see" strategy, you can get into the "Hey, take a look at me!" strategy. Remember - first to market always gets attention.
Know the Answer to the #1 Question
You may have heard this question before in a job interview: "Why should we hire you?" If not, you need to know that it is the #1 question that any employer is trying to answer. If you cannot answer that question yourself, how will your employer be able to answer it? Part of the interview process is to sell yourself. You will need to understand how and why you fit into that job, the company, and this timeframe to be the right option.
Be A Problem Solver
Everyone may be looking for an employee...and job seekers are trying to fill that need. So what is the single largest differentiator among candidates? THE ABILITY TO SOLVE PROBLEMS. The candidate who understands what the problems are that the company is dealing with, why they are problems, and how to solve them will have a competitive advantage every time. Whatsmore, the candidate who can articulate the solution in a way that resonates with the interviewers - explains it in a way that makes sense and puts it into the context of the company in a real-time scenario - they will have the greatest success.
A basic principle, right? With the WFH (work from home) standard in place, we have seen a much more relaxed standard of dress, hairstyle, and (for the guys) beard grooming. Unfortunately, in speaking with my colleagues, this has translated over into many of the more recent job interviews. In fact, just getting an unwrinkled shirt is a stretch at the time it seems (yes...even over Zoom the wrinkles show). My rule of thumb for the job interview is to dress about one step higher than the dress code for the position. If the job requires a t-shirt and jeans, then a polo or a button-up shirt is best. If it requires a button-up, then the tie comes into the picture. In all cases, be sure to maintain good standards of dress and grooming if you want to get ahead. It still matters...more than ever if you want to make that good impression.
With any luck, we'll be back to normal soon...but the "new normal" depends on a lot of things that are yet to be seen. In the meantime, it will be up to each of us to do our best. Your future in the search for your next job is up to you. Incorporate some of the fundamentals and you'll find yourself ahead every time.
Here's to your success!