PHX Perspectives | September 15th, 2020
Let’s be honest – job hunting has never been known to be the most relaxing way to spend a day. Similarly, while a lot of excitement can come from finding work after a long search, the nuances and uncertainties that accompany starting a new position can be a bit daunting. Now, in the “age of COVID” and the newfound global reliance on remote technology, the social intricacies of interviews, presentations, and meeting new colleagues have been morphed into a myriad of Zoom calls, emails, and referring to your pets as your co-workers.
While it’s certainly a decidedly unique time to be treading the waters of the job market, the circumstances don’t mean that all hope is lost. In fact, the transition to remote work has helped some organizations and employees flourish in ways that were previously foreign. Take, for example, the rise of remote education initiatives across the world in response to the pandemic.
With all of that said, whether you’re tackling the post-COVID job market head-on or are finding yourself a bit lost at sea, we’d like to share a few tips to help you navigate these uncharted waters.
If you’ve stumbled across this article on the precipice of a new job hunt, or are looking for some answers after what has felt like countless applications, we hope these pointers can help:
While advising a job seeker to “network” is likely one of the most tried pieces of advice in the history of modern civilization, the word has taken on a new weight over the past several months.
If you are looking for work, it is imperative that you reach out to your professional connections while you search. Don’t take our word for it, though – social media giant and job board, LinkedIn asserts the same stance through the results of a recent global survey, noting that “70 percent of people in 2016 were hired at a company where they had a connection.”
It is equally important that you keep in touch with connections, even when they aren’t needed for a referral or recommendation. Update others on changes to your job status, commend others on the work they’ve done, and offer to serve as a reference if the chance comes up. Remaining connected to a professional network requires attention beyond when the personal benefits are immediately obvious.
Practice Video Interviewing
At this point, it’s highly likely that most people are somewhat acquainted with the social difficulties that can present themselves when trying to communicate with someone over a video call. Gone are the conversations aided by the conscious and subconscious recognition of body language, facial expression, and physical proximity – instead, we sit in front of cameras, at the mercy of internet latency and the now ubiquitous “can you see/hear me?” that begins every conversation.
Effective communication over a medium like video is its own skill, and it’s unsafe to assume that any charisma or talent normally accessible in face-to-face interaction will easily cross over to the realm of Zoom and Microsoft Teams, especially when it comes to interviewing. Whether it’s a solo endeavor or with the aid of friends and family (or better yet, a previous colleague), make sure to practice video interviewing skills.
Similarly, make sure that the physical space you’ll be conducting video interviews in is appropriate. This may sound like a strange tip, but no amount of virtual wallpapers can save you if you leave your TV speakers blaring the sounds of Jerry Springer while you’re in the midst of vouching for your professional stature. Conduct your interviews in as quiet and neutral of a space as possible.
Don’t Give Up
Some days, applying for new jobs can feel like you’re tossing copies of your resume over a cliff; no matter how nicely you prepare and package the information for your prospective employer, it travels sight unseen until it’s forgotten.
The monotony of job applications can be mentally and emotionally taxing, particularly within the scope of isolation that a pandemic presents. However, even on the most trying of days, you must remind yourself that this period of unemployment is temporary. It may take longer than you’d like or are comfortable with, but with enough persistence, you can and will find yourself receiving an offer letter.
Don’t. Give. Up.
Now, let’s say that you’ve finally landed a job (nice!) but are feeling nervous about what starting remotely actually means. Don’t worry, we’ve got you sorted with a few tips:
Develop a consistent, healthy routine
Working remotely isn’t an excuse to start every work day with hitting snooze on your alarm until 8:59 AM. As much as we all love sleep, it’s important that we keep our body healthy, focused, and prepared for each day, especially after any period of time where the regular rhythm of employment goes missing.
Have breakfast, enjoy a cup of coffee, watch the news, browse the web, work out, spend some time with pets, or just enjoy a simple moment of brevity before hunkering down to work for the day. Easing out of bed and into work is crucial to starting each day with as little stress and uncertainty as possible, especially when starting a new job.
Likewise, don’t forget to exercise, communicate with friends, and maintain a routine focused on physical, emotional, and mental well-being. A routine shouldn’t be rolling out of bed, working, watching Netflix, and going to sleep; throw a little variability into each day to help stave off the effect of days blending into one another.
It goes without saying, but as work begins, conversations that clearly outline expectations are enormously important. It’s demonstrably easier to feel a little lost as a new hire in the midst of a remote workday, so make every effort to maintain initiative by knowing how to most effectively dive into inherited projects and responsibilities.
To best be prepared, it’s advisable to contact a new boss or management prior to the official start date with a few questions about work. Not only does it serve as a show of ambition, but it helps assert a level of preparedness that can easily be missed when working remotely.
Communicate with your co-workers
The sidelining of casual conversations in the break room for the time being is not an excuse to become a social hermit. More likely than not, all prospective colleagues have felt the same twinge of isolation and distance synonymous with “the age of COVID.”
Chat with coworkers and make an effort to find some commonalities, even if only via text chat or email to start. When the days of isolation and social distance eventually subside, it’ll feel great to meet someone face-to-face for the first time while having the encounter simultaneously feel like you’ve been working face-to-face all along. Don’t slip into obscurity and mystery on the first days of your new role – especially now, when we could all use a little bit of interaction.