How to get hired in these uncertain times of a global pandemic

Photograph: Cytonn Photography/Unsplash

It isn't that vacancies don't exist; they're just very few of them. Here are tips on how to land a job in these turbulent times

You wouldn’t be wrong to think that the job market has hit a slump. Chances are the vacancy for which you were interviewed has been frozen and you’ve been left holding the sack. To be sure, know that things are indeed bad as they seem and this is especially true some industries more than the others. Aviation has taken a hit; hospitality business has come to a grinding halt and media and publishing are already laying off people and shutting down entire departments. So how does one get hired in these uncertain times of a global pandemic?

1. Accept that it’s likely that you won’t find a new job right now

This is the hard fact. We are often made to believe (or believe it ourselves) that we are special and that we are the best at what we do. Like it or not there are hundreds, even thousands of people who are doing the same thing you do, oftentimes at half the amount you make. It’s also likely – and this may be difficult for you to accept – that you aren’t the best at what you do; it’s likely that you are probably just about barely good. Before you embark on a new job hunt, it’s crucial for you to take a good hard look at yourself and your abilities. And even if you are as good as you think and, sure, you may well be the best at what you do, there may not be another job for you under these circumstances. You may have also noticed over the years that as you rise up the pecking order, the number of vacancies reduce and the pandemic could well just have been the final nail in the coffin. But that shouldn’t mean that this would be the end of the road for you. This is not supposed to make you feel defeated but rather give you a realistic view of what lies ahead of you. Once you know you may be in it for the long haul, chances are you may be able to handle your frustrations better. Now that you know what to be prepared for…

2. Start by looking at sectors you think could have a role for you

It’s a fact that almost all industries have taken a serious beating during this pandemic. And that’s the thing to remember – almost all. When you think about it, you’d likely realise that some sectors have managed to flourish in this downturn. Sectors such as FMCG, Pharma, digital learning, public health, etc have been seeing some positive movements. Steer your job search towards those areas. To know what kind of sectors and companies would be doing well, all you need to do is pay attention to what you’ve been buying and consuming and you’ll have your answer.

3. Find ways to showcase your transferrable skills

This is perhaps more important to remember than anything else. You may be a superb marketing manager in, say, the publishing sector which in the red right now. So you have to ask yourself how is it that you can transfer your skills to sectors that are hiring right now. The key is to know that you aren’t going to be doing the same thing in a different organisation (and expect a better salary for doing it). The idea here is not to find a 1:1 correspondence with what you were (or are) doing but rather to find how you can use your marketing skills from the publishing industry to, say, an FMCG company. The best hiring managers are those who will seek to infuse fresh thinking from other sectors into their industry. Similarly, good recruits are those who are able to transfer their skill sets from one industry to another. Be that recruit and showcase your transferable skills on your social media and LinkedIn feeds.

4. Acquire new skills

There’s no limit to how many times one can repeat this, only because it’s truer now more than it has ever been. Gone are the days when you could sail along for the entire duration if your career using the same set of skills you acquired when you were in your first few years. No one’s job is safe – even that of a CEO – so that should be reason enough for you to take up that course on digital marketing on LinkedIn Learning. But that’s just one reason: learning new things makes you an interesting person and interesting people tend to get hired more easily.

5. Network!

Networking tends to get a bad rep simply because of the way people do it. The thing you need to remember about networking is that you’re not going to get immediate gratification. Sometimes you need to network for months; sometimes for years before something pays off. The key to remember is that you shouldn’t be ashamed of doing it (but also not do it shamelessly, there’s nothing more off-putting than someone promoting themselves relentlessly) but do it with class. Which brings us to the final point…

6. Don’t be afraid to ask for a job

As we tend to get senior, we are less inclined to reach out to someone and ask them directly if they have a job for you. Seeing this as an act of holding out a hat is what prevents us from getting the jobs we deserve. If you know someone has a vacancy, or if someone’s taken up a new role, it’s perfectly acceptable for you to call them up and tell them that you’re looking and that you’d be a good fit in their team. The thing to remember here is to be upfront and not be shady. If you want to work for/with them, spell it out in those many words and explain why you think you would be a good hire. Don’t bore them with your speech; be brief (ideally prepare the pitch, even if they’re your friend) and then let the ball remain in their court. Don’t keep calling them up or emailing them/their HR department every few days. Ask for the job; make the pitch; and leave it at that.