It’s pretty obvious that searching for IT career opportunities in this current climate is going to be a tricky affair. Recruitment is low on the agenda for a lot of companies right now and even those who do need to fill specific roles in their organisation will sometimes have the unenviable task of recruiting whilst making redundancies at the same time. What is clear that there are now and soon to be a horrible equation between numbers of vacancies and numbers of active job seekers. So, if you are either between careers currently or just wanting to take the next step along, what is the best advice.
The game is effectively the same and the rules haven’t changed all that much….the opposition is however going to be tougher than ever. To win, you will need to ensure you keep to the same principles and basics you would normally but hone in on a few key areas.
- Be consistent
- Treat getting a job as your new job
- Be efficient
- Build relationships
- Focus don’t generalise
- Re-skill / Up-Skill
- Broaden your horizons – location
- Find help
- Keep busy
- Don’t panic
There really is no need to try to become something you aren’t just because times are not the same. Have a good story / pitch to relate to employers and agencies alike and stick to it. Ensure you know where you want to go with your career and be clear about your drivers with every audience you garner. It is too easy in these times to pander to the epidemic and just position your objectives as job security. It is important your goals and ambition are still relayed to prospective employers.
Treat getting a job as your new job
When not working it is too easy to take breaks in the day or evening when you would have usually have been working. If you have any downtime during the usual working day it’s because you’ve not exhausted all the possibilities out there. Actually plan your day and week as you would normally. Give time to task and have a ‘to do’ list.
Don’t waste time…it will seep away quickly and before you know it you will a few weeks down the process with nothing to show for it. Set a priority chart and focus on where you are likely to get the most interest / success. Get to the point. Set your stall out and have an agenda for every activity you are doing, wether that be a call or an email. Make some email templates that you can use time and time again but personalise them.
Too many times, a recruitment process can feel just like that. A process you have to go through to get to the endpoint. You have to realise that every opportunity will have a different maturation point and as they say in sales…you need to attempt a sale 7 times before success….this is usually because a relationship is formed over those 7 bits of communication. The process therefore becomes less transactional and more personal for both parties.
Focus – Don’t generalise
Fear drives the ‘scatter gun’ approach. From a recruiters perspective it’s soul destroying watching someone with seemingly saleable skills applying for anything and everything. It shows you have a lack of direction and true belief in your core skills. Focus on what you do best and what you want to develop.
Re-Skill / Up-Skill
Not always the most cost effective way to change careers but it’s important if you have the time and are resourceful enough to find courses / qualifications for free then ensure you firstly enjoy using the skills you are learning and make sure they are relevant in the market. Try the vendor websites first for free courses and qualifications but then try more regional training companies who can guide you on the best route in. Self training is good but also realise that tacit learning is useful so make sure you get onto as many forums as you can to get real world support and help.
Broaden Your Horizons
The world of work is going to look very different in time to come as business has realised what it can and cannot do with a home working employee base. There undoubtedly will be companies now happy to have roles more home based so ensure you have a possibility to do this is possible and get your setup ready so you can demonstrate to a potential employer that you have the resources at home and the mentality to deliver in that environment. However, where there are fewer opportunities you might need to travel further afield and so it’s best now to re-assess your commuting options. You really need to start planning this as employers will ask the question early in the process as to how you will now manage a longer or more challenging commute. Check out childcare options, driving routes and times and run your searches by adding specific towns not just radius searches.
It’s more important than ever to garner support, advice and general help from every possible avenue. Use previous working relationships to do this. Go back and connect, if you’ve not already done so, to previous line managers, HR connections, work friends and ask if their companies could need someone with your skills. Ask them the best route to take and importantly follow up on that. Keep a track of all your communications (a simply excel spread sheet will help keep on track of on-going conversations but will also help you to keep communication going with lost contact opportunities. A really good question to ask anyone is “what would you do if you were in my position?”. This encourages empathy and people will hopefully offer some first hand advice rather than generic, broad brush stroke tip bits. Talk to recruitment professionals both agency and client side and of course ensure your goal is to actually speak with contacts as emails can easily be lost in priority lists. Chambers of commerce and business advisory groups can give local knowledge about schemes and companies in growth patterns.
The biggest concern is being out of work for so long that skills diminish and with this prospective employers question why another employer hasn’t snapped you up yet. If you find that you just want to be doing the job you love and need to be actively doing it…maybe offer yourself up on a free trial basis. Do some, literally free, freelance work to keep you hand in and your mind engaged. When companies and literally see the value in you they are more likely to speculate and try to create you a position….if you haven’t already created one for yourself.
The worst thing you can do is apply for anything and everything in the hope you’ll at least be working in the sector. If you need to pay the bills and take a short term role out of technology, then do that but ensure your mindset focuses on the fact that this is short term and is a means to an end.