How to thrive in today’s job market

Employees across the world are being asked to abandon years of pre-conceived ideals and beliefs about the nature of work. Discover the approach you need to take to thrive in today’s challenging job market   

The world as we knew it has changed in a way that is irreversible for many, if not all of us. The majority of businesses which remain in existence are feeling their way through this crisis blindly, looking desperately for solutions that will both shore up their existing business as well as assist them in finding opportunities and new staff amid the chaos and uncertainty that this global pandemic has brought upon us all. However, this cannot be done in complete isolation and employees are being asked to abandon years of pre-conceived ideals and beliefs about the nature of work and pivot sharply to new ways of operating and embrace the uncertainty that the ‘new normal’ change will inevitably bring.

As a seasoned business coach and strategist, specialising in the future of entrepreneurship and the workplace I am often called on to source some inspiration, or an insight into what people can expect from their future employment, both now and in the many uncertain years to come. To be able to do that, it is important to put the situation into context.

Shifting from the safe place of gradual and incremental change

While there have been many poignant articles written about how the world of work has changed in the last decade or so, we have always written these from a safe place, where change was gradual and incremental, a place where it allowed us time to adjust to it. We wrote about how technology would allow us to become more remote and yet distantly efficient, without ever actually believing that we would spend all work and most leisure time using technology from our kitchen tables or rapidly redesigned spare bedrooms.

We spoke about how we would need to find innovative ways to balance performance management and trust, without ever for a moment thinking we would need to rely completely on the trust and honesty of our workforces. Then finally, we wrote about how to create productive work-life integration, to enable people to be present with their families when childcare was almost impossible to secure, without ever having to think that we would need to balance a child on our knee while chairing a zoom conference call.

What we believed about the world of work six months ago is fast becoming redundant, a distant memory and it requires us to rethink how we are employed, what work we do, how we produce this work and how we can retain all the benefits of the ‘old ways’ of working, while capitalising on the ‘new ways’ that Covid-19 has forced us to create and adopt. 

To achieve any of these new realities, we will now need to rely even more heavily on the wonders of modern technology, we will need to not only think outside the box, but actually step out of it completely and take that brave walk around the next office, even if it is actually technically just the living room, and preferably not in our pyjamas.

Remaining in control of the day and restructuring your mind palaces

There are some phenomenal technological tools available to assist us on our rapid path towards this new-found way of securing employment and of working, from Skype, Microsoft Teams and Zoom to the likes of monday.com for monitoring staff efficiency and tracking the projects and tasks of a vast workforce remotely. Remaining in control of the day is now, more than ever, imperative for businesses to thrive, and for you to succeed.

Restructuring your well-ordered mind palaces and leaving your comfort zones are also going to be vital for continued business growth. Gone is the old structure of popping to the gym before heading to the office, then for drinks with a large group of colleagues or prospective employers. Now it is simply essential to ensure that the internet is working at full capacity, that the kids are entertained in another room, and that the dog will not demand a trip out to the garden before you embark on back-to-back virtual interviews or meetings.

There has also been a dramatic spike in the use of social media platforms throughout the pandemic. Conducting business that would usually be done face to face, across a boardroom table, is now completely acceptable via LinkedIn, and often even via Facebook or Twitter. My advice here, though, is to ensure that all social media accounts are checked thoroughly to ensure that you are offering a good first impression. Optimise yourself to ensure that you stand out from the crowd and allow yourself to be seen in a positive light, albeit virtually.

The world is a changed place and we must resign ourselves to the fact that this is for the long term. The plusses are that before you embark on the next chapter of your career or business growth, you have the opportunity to finetune your pitch, to ensure that you are showing only your very best self, because until you press the ‘invite’ or ‘accept’ icon, it’s still all to play for.

Sean Purcell is a business and leadership coach, and the Director and Founder of Sean Purcell, MillenniALL Media and ActionCoach Colchester. He educates and trains SME business owners and entrepreneurs to create businesses fit for the future. Sean is also author of MillenniALL, a guidebook for the Millennial generation.

Using challenging times to your advantage

One thing that the current pandemic gives us is time, says Job.com’s Arran Stewart, so why not use this to your advantage? Check out his tips for building a roadmap towards achieving your goals and ultimately, landing a fulfilling position

For those coming to the end of their academic programme or recent graduates, it probably feels like the odds are stacked against you right now. Instead of all the hours of study, preparation and testing finally paying off, the world faces one of the biggest unforeseen challenges in modern history. With more than 36 million people unemployed in the US alone, and everything from borders to primary schools locked down, it feels like the absolute worst time to be looking for a job.

As a fellow Business School graduate with a master’s degree (received 14 years ago), I had to face the first world-changing, socioeconomic catastrophe of the 2000s – the Great Recession. Nonetheless, reflecting on that time and comparing it to now, I now know some things that would have given me an advantage when I had my own uphill battle for work.

Use LinkedIn

You get as much out of Linkedin as you put into it. At the beginning of its lifecycle, it was inconceivable to connect with CEOs of FT 500 companies. Today, all it takes is a click. Most people in the working world have a presence on LinkedIn. Personally, I think LinkedIn is the best possible tool to distinguish oneself in the recruitment process as a new graduate.

Having a distinct personal brand and a well-connected and active network opens up opportunities like no other. Use your profile as an opportunity to brand yourself and develop a clear identity. Write articles, share relevant content, interact with the posts of others – create as much engagement as you can on the platform.

Be sure your profile is visible and available for recruiters to find you. Identify companies that are hiring and that you’re interested in and follow their pages. Connect with senior people in the business and engage with their posts. Sending short, polite messages introducing yourself and asking for advice on getting your foot in the door at the company are helpful and an excellent way to build name recognition in the application process, beyond the résumé.

Distribute your résumé

Another great tool to get as many eyes as possible on your résumé is to use a résumé distribution service. For a small fee, these services automatically register you on every major job board. Based on your preferences (and the service’s capabilities), these services can also curate jobs according to your preferences and notify you when a desired company or position is hiring. You’ll also be visible to all recruiters using these job boards, making it easier to turn the numbers game of job searching in your favour.

Services of this kind, such as Résumé Rabbit, save time and effort, and have the unintended benefit of being less popular, which can amplify your résumé to recruiters in a less competitive environment.    

Aggregate

Job aggregators are another useful web-based tool to save time and effort in the job hunt. Aggregators compile most, if not all, of the jobs on the market from every job board to make it easier to search for a desired role. Consider it a vertical search engine for all the job sites. Like the distribution services mentioned above, aggregators are excellent time and effort savers. Look for an aggregator with an easily understood interface that also offers useful market insights and advice.

Try to intern

Understandably, interning isn’t economically feasible for everyone but if you can it’s a great way to get in at a company. Showing initiative and desire to work well for free can highlight what you can offer to the business and increase your chances of securing a paid opportunity.

While many formal internship and fellowship opportunities have dried up, keeping in touch with mentors from these programmes can put you first in line once things return to normal. It expresses firm interest in the company and shows initiative, dedication and ambition; something hirers desire in interns and new staff. While it’s not ideal to work for free, it’s another way to hustle your way in under challenging circumstances.  

The gift of time

Perhaps the most underrated resource given to us by this pandemic is time. Make the most of the extra time you may have to really get to know the market and clarify your future goals. Research the market to identify growth opportunities and exciting companies that you may want to work for.

Take time to visualise, and write down, your career goals for the next 6-24 months. Having a clear vision makes it easier to build the roadmap to achieving your goals. Eventually, you will get hired and if you don’t use it wisely, you’ll lament the time you wasted not moving towards a fulfilling career. Time is something we cannot buy but you’ve just been handed some, so make the most of it to maximise your future.

Embracing this challenging period in history and using it to your advantage can seem astronomically difficult. However, it’s important to remember that successful people turn horrible situations into advantages. Wallowing in the uncertainties and anxieties that are bound to crop up at times like this may be comforting, but life is full of challenging, difficult situations.

You have to frame your mind to see obstacles as an inevitable part of the road to success and train yourself to keep your head high as you face them. Overcoming obstacles – and learning from them – is the secret to becoming the best version of yourself. I wish you all the luck during this time and remember, the tough times always pass, making the good times all the sweeter. 

Arran Stewart is Co-Founder and Chief Visionary Officer at Job.com.