By Jane Donnelly, Regional Managing Director at Hays
Even though we find ourselves in a changing world of work against an uncertain economic backdrop, by no means should that stop you looking to the future and considering how you can forge ahead with your professional ambitions.
Having said that, job hunting during the corona-era is somewhat different to what it was a few months ago, so here are a few things to keep in mind to help you stand out as a strong candidate – now and in the future.
Have you highlighted your change management experience or mindset?
To keep organisations afloat throughout changing regulations, employers have had to think on their feet and react with incredible agility. You’ll no doubt have witnessed many workforces – perhaps even your own – moving entirely to remote working practically overnight and rebuilding processes from the ground up.
This has been a steep learning curve and one which has impacted what employers are looking for in candidates. To meet this change head on, employers now have a newfound appreciation for change management experience, or even professionals who show the right mindset to adapt to change quickly.
So if you have ever had to work through significant change in your job, especially when it comes to implementing new technology or managing various stakeholders, this should absolutely be highlighted on your CV. This experience demonstrates your resourcefulness and ability to respond well to change, which is invaluable to employers currently.
If you don’t have this experience, don’t worry. You can still show that you are someone who has the right mindset and attitude to deal with change. To do this, stress soft skills such as:
- Problem solving
Have a handful of examples of when you’ve used these skills up your sleeve to use in your personal statement or interview.
Have you learned any new skills recently?
As a result of being placed on furlough leave or working from home, many have been afforded some additional free time which they’ve used to upskill. If you have recently acquired some new expertise, see how you can bring this out in your job application. Does it directly link to one of the skills needed for a role you have your eye on? Or does it demonstrate one of the soft skills which is listed in the job ad?
If you don’t have something new to add to your CV, it’s absolutely not too late – now is as good a time as any to get some new skills under your belt and pre-emptively give your career a boost.
Some examples of skills you could learn during this time include:
- Coding: the infiltration of new technologies into jobs at every level means that digital skills are everincreasingly under the spotlight, and so a great place to look at honing your skills could be coding, with Codeacademy an excellent place to start.
- Data analytics: Alternatively, if you’re looking to master Google Analytics, then Google’s Analytics Academy should help you get a handle on how to grow business through intelligent data collection and analysis.
- Writing: OpenLearn, the Open University’s free learning arm, can help you brush up on your writing skills.
All of these are examples of skills that have the dual merits of being in-demand and easy to learn from home. Updating your CV with any newly-acquired expertise will pay off by showing both your commitment to independent learning and initiative in terms of using furlough leave or free time productively.
Are you open to trying something new?
The long-term reality of the Covid-19 crisis may mean that we see surges in demand, industry shifts and emerging trends that have a sustained impact on not just the job market, but the world at large. In light of this, a jobseeker’s biggest asset currently is keeping an open mind to new opportunities and to stay flexible to unexpected career shifts.
If you are actively looking for a new role, perhaps this means widening your scope to look at different industries or fields where you can make an upwards or sideways career move drawing on your transferable skills. Remember to look at both your technical and soft skills – these are likely to be more diverse than you might have first thought. By looking at new areas and comparing your skills profile to that profiled in a job ad, you might discover strengths you didn’t know you had or come to realise that your experience is more transferable than you first thought.
Even if you aren’t anticipating moving roles in the near future, this same thinking should still apply. Often we stumble across the best opportunities when we aren’t solely looking for them, so there’s no harm in keeping your eyes peeled on job websites or having open conversations about job mobility with potential employers. In a world now shown to be beset by change at all sides, open-mindedness and flexibility will keep you progressing in your career, whatever the future holds.
About the author
Jane is Regional Managing Director for the East of England region of Hays. She joined Hays in 1994 as an Associate initially recruiting within the Accounting and Finance in Scotland, and progressed to Regional Director in 1999 running all Hays Finance, Office Support and Customer Contact recruitment across the North East of England. In 2017 Jane was appointed as the Regional Managing Director for the East of England region, covering 17 offices. She also currently sits on the council for the CBI in the East of England.
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