In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, most people are either working from home, or nervously in an office setting right now, or are already unemployed, and there is a collective anxiety that rolled in like a fog overnight. Many are wondering if they’ll have a job tomorrow, and worse, folks already unemployed are wondering if there is any hope in sight.
I won’t sugar coat this – it sucks.
This whole thing sucks. For some sectors, despite the government working toward relief efforts, this is devastating. Truly. For other sectors particularly those in tech or corporate life (which is where our focus is for this story), there is a recovery in the future.
It’s universally awful, but it’s not an impossible situation.
In fact, this could turn out to be a major advantage for you if approached properly.
Before I tell you the bad news, then the good news, and then offer advice, let me first assert that employment is a topic close to our hearts here at AG. Although you’re reading this on the pages of an entrepreneur news site, you may also know that for nearly a decade, we’ve operated the Austin Digital Jobs group on Facebook (and hosted quarterly recruiting mixers that average 450 attendees (which are obviously on pause right now)), but you might not know that we also launched the Remote Digital Jobs group on Facebook.
We’re in the trenches with job seekers, employers, career coaches and the like. Every day. Which means we’re having hundreds of conversations about how COVID-19 is impacting employers and job seekers.
So… let’s start with the bad news first.
It’s no secret that there is an air of uncertainty right now. We’re collectively holding our breath, prepared for the worst but hoping for the best. The universal virus we’re all infected with right now is anxiety – employer and employee alike.
Some employers are moving forward as normal because their industry is thriving in this time, others are hard hit and looking at their reserves and hitting pause on hiring.
Many companies have a hiring freeze in place right now, but they’re not public about that in any way, so as a job seeker, you’ll never know which are in this situation.
Others are following bad advice from venture capitalists and are considering blindly axing people. Some already have.
Layoffs are here. Not en masse yet, but if a company has no money, it can’t pay employees, and smaller companies are currently facing that reality.
But here is the good news. For YOU, anyways.
In this time where an entire workforce has been sent home to work, some folks are going to shine as they are reliable, communicative, and think creatively. Unfortunately, others are going to struggle and sink.
Sinkers open up critical spots on the team that need to be filled to keep operations moving. That could be a spot free up for you!
Further, employers are reconsidering their roster right now. They may be trimming some figurative fat.
For example, one small software development company in Austin told us they would make it through the storm if they made the hard decision to let go of two senior developers they had hired who had negotiated extremely high salaries. With those two salaries cut, two people have lost their jobs, but the company will now hire one senior developer and pay them an Austin salary, not a California salary they had originally paid to attract that tippity top talent.
That could be good news for you. And there are plenty of companies doing just this.
Additionally, companies are looking at their future hiring needs for “when this all ends,” and we’re being told that many companies are currently hiring for the summer, which sounds far away, but is about as long as the hiring process often takes anyhow.
While not a total win, we’re hearing news that implies companies don’t expect COVID-19 to wipe out their business, or hold them back indefinitely.
So should you even bother applying for jobs right now?
The answer is: Yes, absolutely, but you’re going to have to change your approach.
Job interviews are going virtual, so get ready. You’re going to have to test out all of your video platforms with Zoom being the most common, followed by Skype – don’t wait until you’ve landed an interview to test your tech. You’ll have to test your lighting and sound (and probably wear in-ear headphones with a standard mic). Do that today if you can, even if it’s just a friend you’re video chatting with as a test. Here are some quick tips.
You’re going to be tempted to apply to as many jobs as possible and play the numbers game.
That feels good because you’re seeking to control something in this time of uncertainty, but you’re working against yourself and missing opportunities. Plus, it’s lazy. Sorry, it’s true.
Take the time to groom your resume and cover letter. Send it to everyone you know and ask if they’ll pretend to be an employer and opine when they have time, that you’re looking for criticism, not praise.
If you have savings and can afford a professional resume writing service to help you, make that investment right now. If you have comfortable savings, hire a reputable career coach to speed up the process and work with you on your strengths and weaknesses.
Every application you submit should be refined for that specific employer. Before applying, read the job posting three times in a row. Then, read the company’s Career page, their About page, and see what they tweet. This will all tell you what’s important to them (plus, the keywords you’ll need to use to get past the applicant tracking system robots and into the hands of a humans are IN THE JOB LISTING, so use them). This will help you to tell your story in a way that answers their needs.
Take the time to get to know each company before introducing yourself, it’ll make an immediate difference. This is why you can’t really apply to 100 places in one day, it’s unrealistic and puts you at a disadvantage.
Aside from transitioning to video interviews and customizing every application for quality, these times call for some things I’m scared to ask you for, but this pandemic demands grit and patience.
And that’s so much easier said than done.
You’ll have to keep pressing forward, even when you don’t feel like it, and even when it’s hard to get out of bed in the morning. And you’ll have to really wrap your mind around the fact that employers aren’t moving as quickly as they were just a month ago. Response times are slower, so landing an interview takes more time, and post-interview decisions will take even longer.
And that doesn’t sound appealing when you’re worried about paying rent in a few days. It’s not appealing, and we are by no means minimizing that fact or your feelings about it. These are the cold realities of these COVID-19 times.
In these desperate times, your only choice is to take a deep breath and approach job hunting the right way, knowing that companies are shuffling the deck right now. It won’t be in fast motion, but there’s a chair for you about to open up, and you should be pushing your hardest to be the one to fill it.
From the depths of our hearts – know that we’re pulling for you.
Asking the wrong questions can ruin your job opportunity
(BUSINESS NEWS) An HR expert discusses the best (and worst) questions she’s experienced during candidate interviews. it’s best to learn from others mistakes.
When talking to hiring managers outside of an interview setting, I always find myself asking about their horror stories as they’re usually good for a laugh (and a crash course in what not to do in an interview). A good friend of mine has worked in HR for the last decade and has sat in on her fair share of interviews, so naturally I asked her what some of her most notable experiences were with candidates – the good and the bad, in her own words…
“Let’s see, I think the worst questions I’ve ever had are typically related to benefits or vacation as it demonstrates that their priorities are not focused on the actual job they will be performing. I’ve had candidates ask how much vacation time they’ll receive during an initial phone screen (as their only question!). I’ve also had them ask about benefits and make comparisons to me over the phone about how our benefits compare to their current employer.
I once had a candidate ask me about the age demographics of our office, which was very uncomfortable and inappropriate! They were trying to determine if the attorneys at our law firm were older than the ones they were currently supporting. It was quite strange!
I also once had a candidate ask me about the work environment, which was fine, but they then launched into a story about how they are in a terrible environment and are planning on suing their company. While I understand that candidates may have faced challenges in their previous roles or worked for companies that had toxic working environments, it is important that you do not disparage them.
In all honesty, the worst is when they do not have any questions at all. In my opinion, it shows that they are not really invested in the position or have not put enough thought into their decision to change jobs. Moving to a new company is not a decision that should be made lightly and it’s important for me as an employer to make sure I am hiring employees who are genuinely interesting in the work they will be doing.
The best questions that I’ve been asked typically demonstrate that they’re interested in the position and have a strong understanding of the work they would be doing if they were hired. My personal favorite question that I’ve been asked is if there are any hesitations or concerns that I may have based on the information they’ve provided that they can address on the spot. To me, this demonstrates that they care about the impression that they’ve made. I’ve asked this question in interviews and been able to clarify information that I did not properly explain when answering a question. It was really important to me that I was able to correct the misinformation as it may have stopped me from moving forward in the process!
Also, questions that demonstrate their knowledge base about the role in which they’re applying for is always a good sign. I particularly like when candidates reference items that I’ve touched on and weave them into a question.
A few other good questions:
• Asking about what it takes to succeed in the position
• Asking about what areas or issues may need to be addressed when first joining the company
• Asking about challenges that may be faced if you were to be hired
• Asking the employer what they enjoy most about the company
• I am also self-centered, so I always like when candidates ask about my background and how my current company compares to previous employers that I’ve worked for. Bonus points if they’ve actually looked me up on LinkedIn and reference specifics :)”
Think about the best and worst experiences you’ve had during an interview – and talk to others about the same topic – and see how that can help you with future interviews.
How to stop reeking of desperation when you job hunt
(CAREER) Hunting for a job can come with infinite pressures and rejection, sometimes you just want it to be over – here’s how to avoid reeking of desperation.
Whether you were one of the millions of people who quit their job this year in The Great Resignation or you’ve been unemployed since the pandemic began, when you’re looking for work, it can feel hopeless after a while. Just like that student in class who raises their hand at every question, you don’t want to come across as desperate, “pick me, pick me!” Money might be tight. You want to be eager, but you don’t want to be so anxious that you sabotage your job search.
Right now, job seekers have the upper hand, but you want to show off your skills and professionalism, not your neediness.
5 ways you come across as overly desperate for a job:
- Applying for multiple positions at the same company. Employers want you to be a fit for a particular job. Instead, tell the hiring manager that you’re open to other positions that might be a good fit.
- Checking in with the hiring manager too much. Follow up after an interview, but don’t keep checking in. If they have news, they’ll share it.
- Talking about how much you need a job. Don’t bring up your personal issues in an interview. Stay focused on why you are the best person for the job.
- Being willing to accept any offer. You should negotiate and go to bat for yourself when you get an offer. Explain why you’re worth more money because you probably are.
- Forgetting to ask questions about the bigger picture. You don’t want to be so eager to impress that you don’t think about the company culture and perks. You might be desperate, but getting into a job that doesn’t fit your needs and personality won’t help your situation.
Desperation can make you appear to be in the clearance bin at the store. Sure, you may get something for a great price, but will you actually be able to fully use it when you get it home? As a job seeker, you want to be the premium brand on the shelf. Maybe not every buyer (employer) can appreciate you or even afford you, but when the right one comes along, it’s a good fit.
Employers want team members who will be assets for their company. Your job search needs to start with a strong resume and impressive cover letter. Instead of going for quantity, choose job openings for quality, where you can bring something to the table for the company.
Ask a Manager’s Alison Green has some great resources for getting a job, including a free guide to preparing for interviews. Practice interviewing. Make a great first impression. Know that there is a job out there for you.
Study: Employers are inadvertently punishing women that suffer from Endo
(BUSINESS NEWS) A new study reveals the widespread impact of Endo (Endometriosis) in the workforce as well as the entire economy. Change must be made. Quickly.
Women still face many barriers in their career. It’s been more than half a century since federal law addressed gender discrimination in the workplace, but it still occurs. Whether it’s lack of access to training, an inability to speak up, or pay inequality, it’s all wrong. Sadly, a new study identifies another potential barrier to a woman’s career path – endometriosis.
What is endometriosis?
The Office on Women’s Health (OWH) reports that “endometriosis happens when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus (womb) grows outside the uterus.”
Endo, as its often called, causes varying levels of pain, often chronic pain in the lower back and pelvis. The tissue outside the uterus grows in areas where it can cause even more problems by blocking fallopian tubes and forming scar tissue. There is no cure, but there are some treatment options that can work.
Endo affects about 11% of American women who are ages 15 to 44. Despite the fact that the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology describes endometriosis as “nothing short of a public health emergency,” data suggests that about 60% of endo cases go undiagnosed.
I repeat: 60% of endo cases go undiagnosed.
More than 6 million American women are living with the symptoms of endo without knowing the cause or having the capability to manage their symptoms.
Endometriosis was once considered a career woman’s disease, but a two-year-long study from Finland shows that the disease shapes a woman’s career, not the other way around.
Women with endo take 10 or more sick days than women without endo. They also use more disability days. Other studies support these findings. A 2011 analysis reported that women with endo could lose almost 11 hours of work each week because their endo made it difficult to complete tasks. One US study estimated that women with endo experience more sick days each year, up to 20.
These women often have a lower annual salary and slower salary growth.
How can employers address endometriosis in the workplace?
It’s difficult enough to discuss any type of health problem at work, let alone one that relates to menstruation. Employers have a big problem just dealing with short-term illnesses. It’s hard when a key employee is out for one or two weeks from a surgery. Long-term chronic illnesses, especially those that are invisible, are challenging in the workplace.
Most workplace cultures aren’t designed for people with chronic conditions or disabilities.
It’s going to take a major shift in thinking to deal with endometriosis in the workplace.
Endo isn’t painful period cramps. It’s a serious condition without a cure. Employees who are dealing with endo may be battling intense pain or fatigue. Yes, work needs to get done, but when people are living with a chronic condition, they need accommodations.
Endometriosis may be a woman’s disease, but it does impact the entire economy. One study found that endo had a similar economic burden to that of heart disease or diabetes. Most employers would not think twice about a man who needed extra time to deal with coronary disease, but women often don’t get that consideration, regardless of the condition.
Women with endo aren’t incapable or shirking their duties. They may just need to deal with their pain to stay focused at work. Let’s drop the stigma and help accommodate women who deal with endo.
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