Job-hopping amid pandemic

COVID-19 Pandemic, beyond impacting human lives, has also adversely affected people’s careers. Temporary furloughs, rescinded job offers, hiring freezes, and layoffs have created a tremendous amount of upheaval across all industries and job roles.

While working remotely, many professionals feel burnout and thus applying for new jobs during one of the most challenging times in modern history. Even though landing a new role in the middle of a pandemic is challenging, companies are still hiring. If you still decide to apply for a new job right now, be aware that approaching hiring managers and recruiters requires even more thoughtfulness and effort in order to stand out as a viable candidate.

During the last one year, we have formally talked to several recruitment professionals within and outside Pakistan who are actively involved with screening and hiring candidates during this pandemic to share their perspectives on the most common mistakes candidates have been making:

1. How to reach out?

With social distancing, many companies are no longer doing in-person interviews, candidates stuck in their old ways of simply sending a resume and cover letter or making a phone call are not cutting through. One would need to find other ways to stand out in an increasingly crowded candidate marketplace. Successful candidates have proactively thought beyond the usual CV, getting around social distancing factors by producing short videos that allow recruiters and their clients to get a richer snapshot of them as an individual.

Recruiters used to receive hundreds of physical or digital resumes each day are also encouraging candidates to find more engaging ways to reach out. During normal conditions, a phone call could suffice, but now, candidates need to be more proactive and ask for a video conference call to connect, for which candidates must learn how to use the video-conferencing tools.

A rough estimate suggests that 89% of employers are now adopting virtual interviews given the COVID-19 situation. That means you have to be able to bring the same level of enthusiasm, professionalism, and communication that you would to an in-person interview. Candidates really need to embrace video. Don’t forget that this is a formal interview and your appearance, outfit and surroundings should reflect that.

Although everyone understands technical issues beyond your control can arise during the conference calls. Candidates who can run video meetings without technical difficulty immediately set themselves apart. Make sure you are prepared, engaged communicators, and speak from quiet, well-lit spaces in your homes.

2. Where to apply?

Please understand that you may be eager to quickly get your career back on track after any setback caused by the current pandemic, but beware of applying to every role under the sun doesn’t help. Too many candidates are currently falling into the trap. Mass applying to everything they see regardless of true interest or experience or relevance to the qualifications is pretty common right now. Recruiters have seen a significant increase in candidates admitting when approached that they don’t even remember applying to the role. this surely eats up not only your time but energy and resources too.

As a candidate in this hiring environment, you have to keep in mind that more competition now exists for each available role. You need to be more targeted when applying to roles during the pandemic. You should focus on quality rather than quantity of applications. You need to invest time into creating a more customized pitch. If you are not prepared and have an application that is tailored to the role you’re applying for, you’ll not reach the top of the list. Learn about the company and especially understand the impact that the pandemic has or may have on the role you are applying for.

2. How to negotiate remuneration?

Although there’s nothing wrong with aiming high, pushing for a higher salary or more comprehensive perks in the midst of a global pandemic may not land well with recruiters and hiring managers. Candidates who are setting rates or salary expectations too high and therefore pricing themselves out of a potential job. Companies are already under extreme pressure to manage their own costs during this pandemic, so understanding this can benefit you longer-term.

Now is not the time for candidates to be seeking huge salary bumps. Candidates attempting to aggressively negotiate or use this crisis to job jump for financial gain only will find that employers’ patience will be very thin, and they will ultimately end up burning a bridge.

In spite of this now being an Employer’s market, many candidates are still refusing to flex on their requirements. The biggest mistake we’ve witnessed is candidates failing to react appropriately to the changing business landscape caused by the pandemic. Some have refused to be flexible on start dates or on the specific requirements for their role. This is short-sightedness on part of the candidates. Remember, adaptability is a critical quality to possess, and candidates who can’t be flexible during this crisis aren’t likely to receive offers.

Flexibility could involve an openness to part time roles, different locations, or levels of compensation e.g. starting a job online from home without having a secure starting date to be on premise, starting on a freelance basis, or forgoing some full-time benefits until the official on-premise starting date has been confirmed.

Candidates with unreasonable expectations are unlikely to represent the themselves, or their recruiter, well. Hiring clients and recruitment firms may have had to furlough staff, therefore those remaining may be spread very thin.

3. Always network

A pandemic which requires social distancing is not a great moment for building your network. But with more people than ever communicating online, it could be a good chance to reconnect with old contacts too.

Studies suggest distant connections are often better placed to offer you new perspectives and honest advice than your nearest and dearest. However, they may also be less motivated to help you. Ibarra recommends drawing on “dormant ties” — colleagues you were once close to but haven’t been in contact with for three or so

4. Can you postpone?

These are unprecedented times. While finding your next role may still be an important and necessary pursuit right now, many organizations and managers are managing their own challenges in the face of this global crisis.

Proactively seeking out your next role without coming across as dismissive of the global health crisis is delicate. Figuring out which compromises you should and should not make, especially during these challenging times, is complicated. And knowing exactly how best to reach out to people in the right way when everyone is dealing with upheaval in their own lives is difficult.

However, during times of crisis and uncertainty, all you can do is your very best to approach your career pursuits in a proactive, positive, and patient manner without being overly aggressive, insensitive, or pushy. Managing this fine balance is truly winning half the battle. Relevant article: click here.

Final Word

A career change can feel like an inward-looking process. However, it’s important to discuss it out with the trusted people in your lives i.e. spouse, parents and close friends, to clarify your ideas and ensure that you are not daydreaming. Just the simple act of creating and telling a story about what you want to do, or why you want a change, can clarify your thinking and propel you forward, by committing you publicly to making a change. In the end, when it comes to reinventing your career in this time of crisis, remember this important point: The time to get going is now — but don’t go it alone.

Coming across as desperate will rarely serve you well in any walk of life. The same is true with jobs, especially in the middle of a crisis.

Learn how sometimes smaller things in our lives make huge impact and you can take some learnings on a personal and professional level by following me on LinkedIn and on our official website. Also follow us on social media: Facebook, LinkedIn, Medium, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Muhammad Sajwani is the Founder, Managing Director and Principal Consultant at Evolve HR which aims at transforming, enriching and evolving Human Capital of Pakistan. At Evolve HR, him and his team thrives in challenging assumptions that hinder organisational aspirations, by creating innovative solutions that yield maximum impact, scalability & benefit to a wider base of stakeholders. As a Business Coach and Organisational Consultant, Sajwani knows how to combine business insights with people insights to transform organisations and put them on the path to growth.

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C-Level HR, Transformation Leader, Board Advisor, Writer, Business Coach & Organisational Consultant

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Muhammad Sajwani

Muhammad Sajwani

C-Level HR, Transformation Leader, Board Advisor, Writer, Business Coach & Organisational Consultant

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