The world of work has changed beyond anything we could have imagined in the past two years.
In such a short time, the entire job market and our working processes have changed. Some have faced job losses; others have been introduced to a new way of working that has either forced them to reassess what they want from their jobs or has meant that new ways of working aren’t compatible with their life anymore. Whatever the reason, positive or negative, many people are now in the position of looking for a new job.
Looking for a job is different now. With offices closing, people working from home and companies cutting back, there’s still plenty of opportunities available, but searching and interviewing for these positions may involve stepping out of your comfort zone.
Given the current climate, there are more remote jobs available than ever before. For many, this is a positive, with 74% of workers saying that being able to work remotely means they would be less likely to leave their job, according to Owl Labs’ ‘State of Remote Work 2020’ report.
Even if you’re looking for a non-remote position, you’ll still need to navigate job searching in a virtual world. Let us guide you through it.
Starting your virtual job search
Your virtual job search will most likely begin much as it would have in the past. Mykola Tymkiv, the COO of MacKeeper, suggests ‘[looking] for jobs on platforms such as LinkedIn, [job boards], even Facebook’ and goes on to recommend asking family, friends and professional contacts for leads. ‘Your close connections are most likely to help you land a job.’
Using connections to get ahead, though, has become trickier — but not impossible. It may be harder to meet people in person, but you can contact them in different ways, and platforms like LinkedIn are invaluable for networking. You can also reach out for an informal chat to discuss any positions or to really understand about the inner workings of a company and assess whether it’s for you.
You’ll need to do your research on a company, so make sure you check them out online to determine whether you feel aligned with their company culture and to ensure you know enough about them to impress in an interview or when applying speculatively for a role. If you’re looking to work remotely or from home, you’ll need to research the company position on this to see what their policies are and if they’re likely to change in the near future. Google is the best place for all this information.
Don’t rule out social media when conducting your job search, and this doesn’t just mean LinkedIn. Forward-thinking companies and many tech companies advertise roles on Twitter and Facebook. If you’re going to use these means, make sure your own profile is either private or professional-looking. Be careful with profile pictures that may show you in anything other than a positive, professional light.
Be sure to update your CV/resume and that your LinkedIn profile looks professional and is optimised before you start applying for jobs!
Preparing for your video interview
Virtual interviews might be daunting if you haven’t done one before, but if you get organised and familiar with the technology, you’ll feel much more prepared and comfortable. You already know how to prepare for an interview in general, and that part really hasn’t changed. It’s essential that you spend some time rehearsing potential answers, as well as research the company and dress for the part. Yes, for a virtual interview, you still need to dress to impress.
Get familiar with the technology
If you’re using Zoom, or another video conferencing software, you can practise by scheduling a meeting with a friend or relative. This will help you get a feel for what it’s like to be on screen, help you to test your audio and make sure you’re looking into the camera. You’ll get to see what the interviewer sees, and you’ll be able to get constructive feedback from your friends which can be extremely helpful for the actual interview.
Remember to test out your background. Position yourself so you have a neutral background behind you or choose a virtual background. This will save the embarrassment of being in an interview and suddenly realising you have your washing airing behind you.
Write useful notes
One of the great things about a video interview is that you can write yourself notes and they won’t be visible to the interviewer. A great tip is writing them on post-it notes and sticking them all around your screen. These should act as prompts, so make sure you’re not reading directly from them.
Negotiating a salary
Once you’ve aced the interview and been offered a job, now comes the uncomfortable part of negotiating a salary. It really doesn’t need to be as difficult as it feels. You have worked hard in your career, and you need to be paid accordingly — and that’s all you’re asking. If you have been selected, the company in question should already value you and all you have to offer, so don’t play your requirements down.
Research typical salaries in your field, find out what employees within the company in similar roles are being paid if information is available, and check what people are being paid in your location. Looking at location could work to your advantage, but if not, you also have the argument that, if you’re remote, there should be no difference between you and someone in a more highly priced area.
However, negotiations don’t just have to stem around money. For many, your career will be more than about what you’re paid, and also about lifestyle, flexibility and work–life balance. This has come under focus more than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic, when people have really seen the value of home working.
When thinking about what will make the job offer worthwhile for you, think about the entire package. Are you looking for flexible working? Do you need to be able to continue to work from home, even if things change and people start to move back to an office environment? Now is the time to ask for this. Consider this part of your negotiations.
Preparing for a remote position
You may already have experience of working in a remote position, but if not, there are things you can do to set yourself up for success.
A good place to start is with your home office. Ideally, this is a room dedicated to working, but it doesn’t have to be if you don’t have space. For many, it’s the kitchen table, or even a desk under the stairs or in the corner of another room. Wherever it is, it’s important that when in use, it’s a dedicated workspace.
Working in front of the TV on the sofa might seem like fun, but after a while, it will become uncomfortable, and productivity will be low. A dedicated workspace means you can create a comfortable working environment, with everything you need, so that it’s easier to switch to ‘work mode’.
Working from home can prove difficult when it comes to remaining focused. In addition to a home office space, there are many apps that keep you in the zone, including Pomodoro timers which you can set to 25 minutes to ensure you work for a full length of time with no distractions, followed by a short break.
Meanwhile, adaptability is key to success when working remotely. ‘If the pandemic has taught us [one thing], it is the importance of being adaptable, flexible and quick on your feet,’ says Akram Assaf, the cofounder and CTO of Bayt. ‘The digital world is always changing [and] evolving technologies are allowing us to operate completely different. Adaptability will help [you] grow, accept the changes and be willing to acquire new skills when necessary.’
You may also benefit from an accountability partner. This helps both accountability and employee relations. Pair up with someone at work and stay in regular contact through the day, after setting goals verbally that your partner follows up to make sure they have been achieved. You can even work with a Zoom connection so you can see each other and so you can’t get up to make your 15th cup of tea for the hour.
In conclusion, the workplace has been permanently changed by the COVID pandemic, and to get ahead, it’s important to roll with the changes. Virtual job searches and interviews may seem scary and out of your norm, but once you know how to properly prepare and navigate the new job market, you’ll soon feel at home. Working from home or remotely comes with all sorts of benefits, so if you’re looking for a new role, make sure you capitalise on them and get the best position and benefits available to you.
Do you have tips and insights for job searching in a virtual world? Let us know in the comments section below.