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How candidates can make themselves more employable in a slow job market

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Experts are saying coronavirus is the biggest global crisis of our generation. All of our lives have changed in ways that none of us would have predicted. We have experienced major changes in the way we socialise, shop, and go about our day to day lives. There has also been a significant shift in the job market and many people have found themselves suddenly looking for a new role. In this unprecedented time, how can you make yourself more employable?

Don’t panic. Embrace the slow down and use the time to reflect and reset.

We lead fast-paced and hectic lives, constantly jumping from one thing to the next. In this busy world, it’s rare to have an opportunity to slow down so make the most of this time and reboot. It could just be the forced sabbatical you needed!

Take the time to reflect on your career. Think about what you’d like from your next opportunity, your longer-term goals and what’s really important to you. Pinpoint what you loved about your previous jobs and what you didn’t. Think about your strengths, development areas, and unique selling proposition. What do bring to a new company, role, and team? (Be sure to make a note of these things for when you get around to updating your CV and are prepping for interviews!) Once you have reflected on these achievements and goals, you can think about what roles to pursue or the next step.

Do your homework

Before applying for every role under the sun in a blind panic, do your research. Look into different companies, different sectors, and different job titles. Get an idea of what’s out there and what type of role is most relevant for you. This may be based on what you want from your next role, what complements your skills and experience, or what types of opportunities are available at the moment.

Study job descriptions and understand what companies are really looking for. What experience and skills do you have that fits with this? Where are your gaps? Consider what areas you may not be experienced in and think about how you can get that experience. If there are certain aspects of the role requirements where you lack experience, is this something you can work on during this time? Or can you look for different opportunities to get more exposure in this area?

Remember, not every job you have will be your dream job and that’s okay. Maybe you want to use this time to experiment and try something you might not have previously considered. Every experience is going to be valuable; each role will help build your skills and will teach you something new.

Update your CV and LinkedIn profile

Your CV and LinkedIn profile are likely to be the first thing a prospective employer will see and could be a roadblock to an initial conversation if not updated. We all know how important first impressions are so make sure you spend the time on getting these profiles right.

There are plenty of useful sites on the internet about how to write a good CV so do some googling if you’re a bit rusty and need some pointers. Ultimately your CV needs to represent you, have clear synopses of your previous roles, experience, and your achievements. Thoughtful formatting, bullet points, and spell check will be your best tools here.

When you’re writing your CV, make sure that you tailor it to each particular role and company you're applying for. Based on the different role requirements you should highlight certain projects and achievements to show that you are the perfect candidate. It’s much more valuable to put your full time and effort into a few applications rather than just blanket applying to multiple positions with a generic CV.

Speak to others and reach out to old coworkers. Not only is it good to stay connected particularly during this time you can also talk to them about your previous role. It’s easy to forget everything we’ve done ourselves so ask them to recall that you worked on, they may remember things that you haven’t. Once you feel like you’ve captured everything and your CV is ready to go, have someone read over it. Whether this checking for typos or assessing the content someone else is likely to pick up on something you didn’t. Don’t be the person with a typo on your CV!

Find a mentor

Friends, families, and pets are great to support you during these uncertain times. They can be great sounding boards, give excellent advice, and be there to support you through even the most challenging of times. However, it can also be useful to speak to someone with a different perspective. This may be someone who doesn’t know what your favourite colour is, but does know how you came across in that meeting or handled a challenging work situation. It will likely be someone who is more senior in their career and can give you great advice. I know over the years it’s been my senior ex-colleagues who have given me the best advice and are always more than happy to pass their wisdom on.

And finally, make the most of this time…

Remember this is a truly unique situation that is affecting everyone in one way or another. Make the most of this slowdown and use this forced sabbatical to reset and ensure you are energised and ready to go when you get your next opportunity. In the meantime, here are some practical things you can do with your time to make yourself even more employable:

  • Build your brand on social media. You’ll have to adapt this to your industry but it could be things like writing a blog post, sharing interesting articles, pen a thought leadership piece
  • Join a LinkedIn professional network group and start a conversation topic
  • Build and utilise your network. Reach out to those you’ve worked with in the past or would like to work with in the future
  • Learn something new. Read up on a topic you’ve been meaning to brush up on for ages
  • Finesse talking through your CV and common interview questions. This includes what you can bring to a role, your strengths, and weaknesses, etc. Research techniques for answering interview questions and get practising
  • Finally, remember these are strange and challenging times so make sure you’re also looking after your physical and mental wellbeing. Keep busy, keep connected, and keep positive and this will help you and your job hunt stay on track.
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