(Photo by Victor Miloslavsky)
2020 marks twenty years of my beloved career as an IT Recruiter. I know, it’s hard to explain this being twenty-nine years old, but oh well…this is something my readers just have to accept! With this said I have seen a few recessions as a recruiter and I want to talk about conquering this one.
QUICK REALITY CHECK
First of all, I would like to shed some light on the supply/demand market rule that mercilessly applies to the job market. If you changed your job in the recent years with a hefty salary increase, a sign-on bonus and some ungodly perks, it was not because employers finally recognized how absolutely amazing you were, it was because they were incredibly desperate for talent. Companies were drowning in the cluster of newly approved IT initiatives which called for more specialists. With zero percent unemployment in IT, hiring meant offering you more than you get with your current employer and often beating their counter-offer as they beg you to stay. In a blink of an eye we started to see inflated salaries, 20%-30% higher than the salaries in 2016-2017.
Practically overnight the COVID-19 Pandemic has called for salary cuts, furloughs and layoffs. Employers fear the uncertainty, projects are put on hold indefinitely, entire divisions are dissolved. Some businesses just aren’t going to make it with their products and services which became obsolete in the new world. What should one do to maintain their career and continue to earn a viable paycheck?
As a recruiter who helped numerous hiring managers with hiring in the recent years I can tell you that a change might be good for those who look at their careers from a long-term perspective.
The thing is, most recently hiring managers did not have the luxury to be especially selective, they were overwhelmed and desperate. The inflated salaries they were giving out obviously were not sustainable. The “drive-through” interviewing they resorted to overlooked the candidate’s soft skills, career goals and other important fit components that actually differentiate “getting a job” from “making a career move”. Very often a great new job was just an illusion of such. In reality you were just a much needed pair of hands, hired in a great compromise with the original requirements and therefore without much of a future. So, being back on the market gives you a chance to put yourself back on track with your career and land an interesting, truly fulfilling job.
LET’S GET STARTED
Don’t wait until the quarantine is over, it is a perfect opportunity to get ahead of the game. While employers are in the holding pattern, the agency recruiters have time to get to know you. Build rapport with them, explaining what you do and what you are looking for in your next role. Tell recruiters about your long-term goals. Let them help you, in fact, collect a few opinions and bring your ammunition (Resume , LI Profile, Code Samples, Project Portfolio) into tip-top shape, the job market will be a battlefield, bring your “A” Game!
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Do not panic; although there will be fewer jobs and way more candidates, employers will be holding out for “A” Players and there are always very few of those that fit their particular role. This is why recruiters have always been around, whether the job market was hot or not. The “good ones” are always hard to find, be one of them and you will always be in demand. Therefore it would be wise to be selective with your applications but give each opportunity you have chosen to pursue your absolute best shot:
- Adjust your resume to fit their job description more accurately
- If you are not using an Agency Recruiter to represent you, try to find the hiring manager on LinkedIn and message them expressing your interest in the role; this might help you expedite the interview and even potentially avoid getting overlooked by some HR intern.
- If you are working with an Agency Recruiter, make sure they know about all of your relevant skills, experience, and your ultimate goals. Give them all the tools to sell your candidacy to the hiring manager. Once the interview is secured, ask your recruiter as much as possible about the job, the hiring manager and their corporate culture.
- Do your own research and thoroughly prepare for each Interview
- Bring your questions to the interview. Prepare to ask your Questions upfront. Ask them how the role was created? What made your predecessor succeed or fail? What challenges they currently have as a group? What do they expect you to accomplish in the first 90 days? 6 months? Asking these kinds of questions will allow you to not only turn a typical interrogation into a friendly dialog but to also sell your expertise tailoring to their particular needs.
- Follow-up with a “thank you” note via email, where you can recap your value add and highlight your interest.
- Lastly, don’t expect the same experience you might have had last year. The hiring manager isn’t going to jump all over you like a puppy dog. However, this doesn’t mean that you should play that role. Express a healthy level of excitement but don’t give away a scent of desperation, it will hinder your opportunity to negotiate.
The better prepared you are the more you will stand out from the crowd as a stellar candidate, and this means not only getting hired but respected from the start and likely offered further opportunities in your new real sustainable role. Good Luck – You can do it!