The Pandemic Has Changed the Search for New Employees

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As a career counselor it is extremely important to provide clients the latest thinking concerning career planning and the job search. These days it is a challenge keeping up with the accelerating changes in company hiring philosophies. 

In the past change came more slowly, however as I am discovering in my own networking meetings, a sea change has taken place, and taken place quite rapidly as a result of the recession. 

Recruiters are more optimistic about hiring however they know that whether a candidate is in transition or currently employed, there will be very little time for them to make the transition into the new organisation. They are fully expected to understand that performance expectations are very high and the time to demonstrate results is very short. This is very different from the past.

Some professionals who have spent long careers managing money for self-employed people, or working in the hiring process claim they have never seen a situation where critical measures of performance and employee excellence are so stringent. They insist that individual agility in navigating this new environment must take note of the difficult lessons of the past with the impact of downsizing and the new rules of moving forward into a new (and hopefully better) position.

Good people are always valuable and in the past good candidates were often hired because of their latent talent, often, even if a specific job with a clear set of responsibilities is projected for the future. Companies were routinely hiring based on their estimates of future needs. If I am to believe the recruiters and HR professionals I meet, that is no longer the case. 

Now, the need must be clear and unambiguous. All permanent hiring must withstand multiple reviews and approvals and all candidates must be scrutinized as if they will be immediately productive, highly flexible and truly permanent. 

The implications of this are severe. Employers are demanding more value from the recruitment process and are using technology to ensure they can cultivate and recruit the most impressive candidates. They also want to ensure more than ever before that the candidate ultimately hired has a greater chance of long term success, starting almost immediately, under whatever new rules and philosophies they have adopted. 

This all means that in the absence of a booming economy, competition for positions will continue to grow. As a result, the consequences of a poor transition plan can be very severe in the search for the next position. 

Clearly, now with the rise of hybrid work, both remote and in-office, candidate scrutiny has never been greater with organisational compatibility, strong team capabilities and a capacity to begin producing quickly topping the list. Relevant experience is the door opener, however the closers include these factors. In addition, recruiters and hiring managers look for other attributes that help determine which candidates can continue through the interview process. 

We live in a very dynamic business environment, subject to enormous competitive stress on a global scale. That calls for an organisation that is highly flexible, capable of changing direction quickly. Consequently, finding employees that exhibit these qualities of flexibility, responsiveness and innovativeness is prized. It is important to showcase on the resume accomplishments that demonstrate these areas of concern.

When responding to ads, take a good look at the criteria for the job and respond to the specifics. Do not waste time with opportunities that are not a very good fit. If you are changing industries or going from management to an individual contributor position, or any change that would be noticeable on the resume, that has to be explained fully and convincingly in your cover letter.

If you are a professional out of work, consider some type of consulting while job hunting. Don’t assume you will find a new position right away. If you are unfortunate to be unemployed for a lengthy period of time, screeners are awfully suspicious about how you conducted yourself. Were you productive?

If, during the time between positions, you were able to get some consulting work, and make some money that is a plus. Almost everyone has either been unemployed at some point in their career or knew someone close who was unemployed. People have a lot of respect for those who handled their difficulties with character and fortitude. Consequently, selling your skills in temporary work that generates revenue generates respect with screeners.

If you land an interview with either a recruiter or a hiring manager prepare to go into your work history in depth. It is extremely important to describe past choices of industry, company or position in terms of career goals. After all, if you gave old positions some thoughtful consideration, interviewers will feel more comfortable in considering you. 

Nobody wants to hire someone for a responsible position who simply “needs the job”. Realistically, that may be exactly the case. However employers want committed, dedicated employees who see genuine value in employment with their organisations. 

Make sure you know with certainty and clarity your work history and how that will guarantee success with the new company.

Perhaps we will return to hiring patterns of the past, however I doubt it.

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