Looking for a job right now? Here’s how to position yourself for current opportunities

30 Apr 2020

Looking for a job right now? Here’s how to position yourself for current opportunities

Organizations are still hiring for critical roles, but if you’re a job seeker today you’ll need to stand out. Be clear about your value proposition, tailor your résumé, practise your pitch, and be prepared for many rounds of video interviews.

The talent shortages of 2019 seem like decades ago and 2020 is proving to have very different challenges, as we’re seeing layoffs and wage cuts happening across the country. But there is some good news. Many of our clients are still hiring for essential leadership roles or looking to fill skills gaps. There are opportunities out there. We asked our recruiters to share their tips for job seekers today.

Think About Your Unique Value Proposition

Many boards and executive teams are pressing the accelerator on critical hires like HR, supply chain, finance, and IT. Other organizations are re-evaluating which roles are most crucial for surviving during this pandemic and are trying to figure out which executive hires will be most important in the near future. If you are a job seeker today, your priority is to think about your unique capabilities and figure out which experiences and skills are the most valuable for today’s climate.

“Start by looking back through your career,” says Elaine Roper, Partner and HR Practice lead. “Ask yourself some questions: which roles have you been most successful in? How do you cope under pressure? Where do you add the most value to teams and organizations? Most importantly – and be honest with yourself – which types of roles will you thrive in today?”

Vancouver-based Partner Esther McGregor agrees, “you’re not just looking for a job anymore, you’re figuring out how to help an organization solve its problems, and that may mean that you need to reposition yourself and your past experience.”

Update Your Profiles and Practice Your Pitch

One benefit of this slowdown is that organizations are taking the time to figure out which skills and capabilities that they need most right now, so this gives job seekers more time to focus on aligning their key messages and perfecting their pitch.

“In this job market, candidates should use this extra time to their advantage,” says Angela Bond, an Engagement Manager based in Toronto. “If you’re applying to multiple roles, make sure that you tailor your résumé for each role and organization. Write a clear and focused cover letter and tell us why your experience is relevant for the particular role – and don’t forget your online profiles as well.”

“This is not the time to send us a two- or three-year-old résumé or tell us that you have all the experience we’re looking for,” says Margaret Vanwyck, National Director of Search Delivery at Odgers Berndtson. “Be thoughtful, be specific, and tell us the times that you’ve supported transformations or led through less than perfect circumstances. Taking the time to do this will help make your résumé jump out and can make all the difference.”

Be Prepared to Ace the Video Interview Process

We have been conducting virtual and video interviews with clients for the past decade, but this is still a shift for most candidates and organizations. Since all our interviews are being conducted via Zoom and other similar platforms, smart candidates need to take the time to practice and prepare.

Start by developing responses about your experience and skills and be prepared to share answers to more timely questions about how you’ll add value right now and how you might be effective during a virtual onboarding process or managing a remote team. Make sure that you have done your homework on the organization and be prepared to speak about your motivations for wanting to join the team.

You’ll also want to ensure that you take the time to test your technology a couple of times in advance of the call, check your background to make sure it helps you appear professional, and remember to dress in the same attire that you would for any in-person meetings.

“We always help our candidates prepare for interviews, but the added pressure of a virtual process means that this preparation is more important than ever,” says Margaret. “I’m telling all of my candidates to actually practice a virtual interview with a few different people, especially those that will offer real and constructive feedback. Executives who can ace this challenge will be most successful.”

While it is impossible to predict what life will look like on the other side of this pandemic, it feels almost certain that virtual team management and remote leadership will become more commonplace. Taking the time to get comfortable in front of a camera and strengthening your communication skills can substantially pay off in the long run.

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