By Rahul Balakrishnan
In the past four weeks, more and more people are being nudged toward unemployment. People across industries have been impacted – either by having lost their jobs or having had their hours reduced. While unemployment rates surge, gig workers and the self-employed also find themselves struggling to keep their businesses afloat. Funding for small businesses is running out faster than anticipated, leaving the gig economy workers and the self-employed too with no other option other than joining the millions of others seeking work.
Being the human capital industry, I constantly see more and more freshers and young graduates sharing their stories on social media and urging their networks to help them find jobs and internships in these torrid times.
I may not have experienced a situation like this before in my life, but I did experience something very close to it – in 2007-08 during the sub-prime crisis. Being someone who graduated in 2008, things were hard for me, as they were for many others.
So, here are 5 immediate-must-do-next-steps if you are looking for a job in today’s environment.
Step 1: Update Everything, Everywhere
- Before you start your job hunt, update your resume, your LinkedIn page, and your profiles that may exist on other platforms. Be sure to include your skill sets as well as your work history.
- You might be in a time crunch, but it is important to resist the urge to click ‘apply’ for every open position you see without first giving your application material a good scrub.
- If you’re looking for something new or more challenging, you absolutely need to revamp the resume and cover letter/elevator pitch.
- Use your experiences and learnings, personal and professional, and spin those to fit your new applications. Whether it was volunteer work, projects at school, events you’ve planned and managed – all these can be used to demonstrate your planning, project management or people management skills.
Try: Activate every relevant job platform and every head hunter you can connect to. Check with immediate peers, ex-managers, and well-wishers and ask them to circulate your profile. Get as much feedback as possible from diverse groups of people on your CV or cover letters.
Step 2: Managing finances & cutting costs
- Pay extra attention to your financial situation, especially if you are stuck in a city away from home during this lockdown.
- Speak with immediate family members and your support system to understand the quantum of support (both financial and emotional) they can provide and how long it could last – this will help you plan accordingly.
- Create a chart of your expenses for a month. Create a separation between must-haves and nice-to-haves.
- Not only will this help you plan, but it will also be critical for when you negotiate your compensation for a job or even a short-term internship.
Try: Involve family members during this exercise as it might help you feel more comfortable and confident while taking key decisions. Cut unnecessary costs. If possible, also try to find out the different compensation bands that exist for someone at your experience level.
Step 3: Networking and Research
- Leverate your college/alma mater networks across different sectors.
- Connect with recruiters/hiring managers/head hunters/key decision-makers in organisations to get a deeper understanding and have higher chances of coming across opportunities.
- Write to leaders of organisations on your priority list and not just the hiring managers. The initiative is appreciated and the learning will be immense.
- Make use of different channels while applying – do not leave anything to chance. Just applying for the open position may not be enough. Look for people currently working in the organisation who may be able to recommend you for roles internally.
- Spend some time understanding the money flow and the dynamics that exist as you apply to organisations to get a better insight into the sector.
- Create a structure for your networking and researching tasks and have goals to help you stay accountable.
Try: Track every activity to be able to identify which ones are getter faster results and which ones aren’t. Analyse the data to see what changes you can make to your efforts that can lead to better results.
Step 4: Flexibility with a list of non-negotiable items
- Define your non-negotiables that go beyond the remuneration figures – areas of interest, type of organisation, work style/culture, etc.
- Understand what a pivot would look like for you. How far away from your personal interests and ambitions are you willing to go? Also, think about the short-term as well as the long-term ramifications.
- Ask yourself if you would be willing to have a job description that involves things beyond your comfort level and by how much.
- You may also need to consider if you should take up a strong but unpaid internship or a consulting opportunity now or wait for the right full-time opportunity in the uncertain future. How much are you willing to sacrifice?
Try: Create a list of your competencies and skillsets and find roles that match that. Do give considerate thought to how you would venture back towards your interest areas once the dust settles. Plan not just for the ‘now’ but for staying relevant in the future.
Step 5: Make job hunting your new job
- There is no getting around it – if you want to find a new job and fast, you’re going to have to put in the hours. If you’re not currently employed, consider searching for a job as your current job and dedicate ‘working’ hours to it.
- If you’re in dire straits, you may need to start your ‘work day’ at 7 am and work till 7 pm with a 30-minute lunch break. This includes weekends.
- Each job, each role is unique. You need to think about ways to customise your CV and cover letter for each role.
- If you’re currently sending out 10 applications a day on an average, you may need to send out 100. If you’re currently interviewing once a week, try making it daily, or even one every morning and afternoon, five days a week, for a month. If you want quick results, you need to put in six months of efforts into six days.
- Most importantly, be persistent, follow-up diligently. Remember, you need the job and not the other way around.
Try: Start your day early and break the day down into smaller activities and tasks – networking, sending resumes and applications, researching organisations, and speaking to key mentors. Having key metrics and goals for each activity will help.
I hope these suggestions come in useful. If you have any questions, recommendations or would like to talk about the steps that worked for you the most, feel free to share them below.
Remember, tough times don’t last, tough people do.
All the best.