How to build up your career after lockdown
It would be marvellous to find a recruitment agency financed by job hunters to support those struggling to find a job. Recruitment agencies are only useful if you want to do exactly what you have done in the past.
But if you want a career change or progression you are left to fetch for yourself, unless you have well connected friends who are willing to recommend you directly to a hiring manager.
Another way to gain access to a company of your choice is to offer your work as a volunteer. Obviously, this option is only available to those who have enough financial security to work for free.
I’m not a professional career coach so can only write from my own personal experience. It takes many hours of online research just to find a suitable position to apply for.
Nowadays, you only need to send your CV and cover letter for most positions, except traditional companies that insist on having their own application form, which requires much more time and patience to say the least.
Especially after lockdown, when so many people lost their jobs or saw this period as an opportunity to reevaluate their career direction, each job advert receives hundreds of applications so it’s even harder to go through SEO algorithms used to select top candidates.
Only these will have the opportunity to be seen by humans. The majority of people will only receive a standard mass communication email thanking their application.
Even the few candidates selected for an interview may not even be entitled to receive any feedback, or even end up being ‘ghosted’ by recruiters.
In a nutshell, you spend hours online looking for an advert, then hours tailoring your CV and cover letter to include all the keywords on the job advert, just to have a chance of being seen by an actual recruiter…
If you are fortunate enough to be selected for an interview, you then spend hours researching the position and the company, recording yourself on video to prepare for it, and may still be ‘ghosted’.
This means the recruiter does not reply to your first follow up email asking news about the selection process, nor the second one asking feedback to improve your chances of success in the future.
After a while, you realise the position has been offered to someone else without a word of courtesy. This video was not meant to be shared, but I've decided to use it as a way of illustrating this blog post.
Answering a few common questions asked on a job interview, this was an attempt to come up with personal examples to showcase some of my skills.
It was filmed a couple of months ago, just before meeting the hiring manager of a prestigious hotel in London. Even though there was no job offer, it was a good way of gaining insights about how I could come across and find out where there is still room for improvement.
Often, there are a few stages in the recruitment process, you can have three interviews with different people, sometimes two at the time and still be rejected after the final stage. You do tend to receive feedback in this instance.
Other times, the application process may require a bit more time and effort, editorial jobs in particular tend to ask for features ideas or suggestions related to a social media strategy.
Some adverts explicitly ask for native speakers, clearly excluding candidates who could be perfect for the position but are simply not English or not French.
On other occasions, your skills don’t amount to much if they’re not accompanied by a huge social media following, and relevant contacts on your little black book.
And let’s remember it’s important not to sound desperate and remain confident at all times.
Yes, job hunting can be excruciatingly painful and you can end up taking jobs just to pay the bills and get totally sidetracked from your career goals. So what to do?
A good way of sustaining your confidence is to take some time to do something you love, even if it’s just for a couple of hours per week. It could be writing, drawing, cooking, learning new skills online, yoga…
Obviously, It’s imperative to be practical and devise a career strategy. You could start by answering the following questions:
What are your priorities? (flexible time, robust income, fulfilment…)
What would be your dream job?
Which companies you would like to work for?
What is your job hunting approach? What’s working and what’s not working?
What do you find most challenging?
How are you reacting to it?
What could you do differently?
Griffin Moore, a career strategist for General Assembly did an online training and suggests we should focus on what we can actually do, what is within our control, and our influence. She recommends writing down priority actions and reevaluating our progress from time to time.
The point is to strengthen our ability to adapt in order to keep moving forward. Moore strongly advises to avoid attempting to predict the future, or plan actions based on the past, but see the future as a possibility, encouraging us to reflect, act and experiment, and above all stay present in discovery.
Useful links to learn more about finding work:
Positioning yourself for Job Search Success podcast by Kelly Hoey
How to navigate the employment market during lockdown by Harper’s Bazaar UK
A Vogue-Approved Guide To Job Searching During Lockdown by Vogue Business