COVID-19 + Your Career & Job Search

Unsurprisingly, the most common question of the last couple of days that we’ve received:

What shall I do with my job search in light of the coronavirus?

Note: you can download this blog post as a nicely formatted .pdf here.

And as with all crises – there are certain reactiontypes:

  • paralysis = not doing anything out of fear; it’s not recommended to anybody who’s been without a job for longer than 3 months
  • frantic action = reacting to events emotionally, running around like a headless chicken; it usually does more harm than good; reason: when in chaotic reaction mode, people make mistakes they usually wouldnt: attach the wrong CV, send one email to everyone instead of going one by one, publishing “I’m looking for a job” on LinkedIn (not recommended for experienced managers and executives!), be clumsy / pushy when networking etc.
  • keep your cool and go into “theres a problem, now whats the solution?”-mode: it requires selfcontrol for the first 2-3 weeks to actually take the time to research, strategize & plan, and then selfdiscipline to follow through on the action plan

And like with all things, nothing is black and white – there are and will be experienced managers and executives who move in and out of the above mentioned states. What’s important is that you ultimately keep ending up in the third category of calm and productive behavior. If you realize that you’ve been in the first (paralysis) or second (chaotic action) group:

Tips for the paralyzed:

  • Watch this TED talk: Why you should define your fears instead of your goals
  • Talk to somebody to work through your fear; if you want to speak with a Career Angel free of charge, click here.
  • Start small – take small actions – a little bit every day is still more than nothing out of a big to-do-list

Tips for the over-reactors:

  • Stop what you are doing immediately
  • Put some structure into your action – take a piece of paper and a pen and make a plan; or an Excel spreadsheet
  • Come up with strategiesto manage yourself” for the moments when you catch yourself (over)reacting emotionally without structure
  • Ask somebody for help to review if your actions are targeted in the right direction; if you want to speak with a Career Angel free of charge, click here.

To help you even further, we’ve prepared this decision tree that is admittedly simplified, yet still a fairly accurate way of deciding what to do.

Let’s look at what to do from left to right – scroll below to the section that applies to you.

You have a job + you do not fear it might be affected + you did not plan on looking for a job.
You have a job + you do not fear it might be affected + you did plan on looking for a job.
You have a job + you do fear it might be affected + you are already looking for a job.
You have a job + you do fear it might be affected + you are not yet looking for a job + you are financially prepared.
You have a job + you do fear it might be affected + you are not yet looking for a job + you are not financially prepared.

If you have a job, and you do not fear it might be affected and you did not plan on looking for a job anyway
→ Great! Don’t panic.

Here are a couple of things that you can do:
1. Take the time to reflect upon your next career steps in the next 12-24 months. See where you want to be and where you are now. Identify the areas (competencies / know-how) that you can work on and prepare an action plan. Here several links that can help you:

  • Step 1: define / describe your goal in as much detail as possible
  • Udemy.com – the leading global marketplace for learning and instruction; courses worth checking out: The Complete Digital Marketing Course or Project Management with certification option, Public Speaking. Search also for courses to improve your IT skills (Microsoft or LibreOffice tools)
  • Coursera.org – all courses are online and are taught by top instructors from world-class universities and companies; hundreds of courses are free; paid courses allow for shareable Course Certificate upon completion; some examples: Digital Transformation by BCG, IT Fundamentals for Cybersecurity by IBM, The Strategy of Content Marketing by University of California, and many, many more!
  • LinkedIn Learning (for premium users) – videos, courses and entire learning paths across Business, Creative and Technology; some examples: Become a Digital Marketer, Come a Small Business Owner, Become a SEO Expert, and many, many more!
  • Free Ivy League MOOCs – some examples: Neuroscience at Harvard, Gamification at University of Pennsylvania, Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies at Princeton, Negotiation at Yale and many more – all of them for free!

2. If you want to err on the side of caution:

You have a job + you do not fear it might be affected + you did plan on looking for a job
→ If you are a top notch candidate: dont panic & continue!
→ If you are “an average” or “nonstandard” candidate, review your timeline and/or improve your competencies.

First things first: how do you know what kind of candidate you are? Ask yourself the following question,
“Would somebody objectively say that you could hit the ground running from Day 1?”

Another way of looking at it,
“Have companies or recruiters approached you for the role you are targeting in the last 6-12 months?”
“Have you already been shortlisted for your target role in the last 6-12 months?”

Note that it doesn’t say, “Have you been interviewing for your target role?” – being interviewed is different from being actually shortlisted. Interviewing is curiosity, shortlist means serious consideration. In tough times, companies choose the safe, low-or-no-risk candidate.

So, if you said “yes” to the above question(s), you are a so-called “plug & play”-candidate. You can (and should) continue with your plan of looking for a job, and remember:

  • Prove your competencies with concrete examples
  • Think of restructuring / change management / optimization examples; bonus: with a digitization / technology element
  • Make sure you express your successes tangibly in your CV (more tips here)
  • Have a second CV optimized for ATS; here’s how to do it
    Make sure to follow the 4 steps of the job search strategy (in more detail below)

If you said “no” to the above question(s)”, meaning that you would need some guidance and training at the beginning of the new role, you might want to:

  • Review your timeline: maybe it’s a good moment to postpone your job search OR insert an additional “career stop” that gets you closer to your target role
  • Improve your competencies and/or generate proof that you have them; links and ideas that can help you:
    • Step 1: define / describe your goal in as much detail as possible
    • Udemy.com – the leading global marketplace for learning and instruction; courses worth checking out: The Complete Digital Marketing Course or Project Management with certification option, Public Speaking. Search also for courses to improve your IT skills (Microsoft or LibreOffice tools)
    • Coursera.org – all courses are online and are taught by top instructors from world-class universities and companies; hundreds of courses are free; paid courses allow for shareable Course Certificate upon completion; some examples: Digital Transformation by BCG, IT Fundamentals for Cybersecurity by IBM, The Strategy of Content Marketing by University of California, and many, many more!
    • LinkedIn Learning (for premium users) – videos, courses and entire learning paths across Business, Creative and Technology; some examples: Become a Digital Marketer, Come a Small Business Owner, Become a SEO Expert, and many, many more!
    • Free Ivy League MOOCs – some examples: Neuroscience at Harvard, Gamification at University of Pennsylvania, Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies at Princeton, Negotiation at Yale and many more – all of them for free!
    • Get yourself onto projects that’ll help you generate examples (evidence) of your competencies. Can’t do it in your current job? Find an organization (e.g. an NGO or start-up) and get involved in the necessary area.

If you are not sure, get a second or third opinion:

  • Ask a friendly recruiter (better even if you can reach out to 2-3)
  • Talk to somebody who knows you professionally
  • Speak to a Career Angel for an objective assessment – free of charge; to schedule a call, click here.

You have a job + you do fear it might be affected + you are already looking for a job.
You have a job + you do fear it might be affected + you are not yet looking for a job + you are financially prepared.
You have a job + you do fear it might be affected + you are not yet looking for a job + you are not financially prepared.

For all these three groups, we have the same advice: start / keep looking in a calm, structured, systematic matter; if you are not financially prepared, do so intensively. Here a run-down of how to do it:

The 4 steps of job search:
1. Step: Define your goal precisely
2. Step: Define your USP
3. Step: Update your CV (+ATS version!) & LinkedIn profile
4. Step: Use all four job search channels

And here in more detail with links & materials:

1. Step: Define your goal preciselyin detail:

  • Describe your goal in as much detail as possible. In other words: we reverse the process – so instead of companies making a list of requirements of the ideal candidate, you make a list of requirements (parameters like: size, industry, level of maturity, type of capital etc.) that you have for your potential employer. Here a worksheet to do that.
  • Define the location(s) you want to proactively move to; this will translate into the number of headhunters to be contacted in 4th step!

Most common mistake: going too broad or too narrow; How do you know? Once you apply your filters to the market, you should have a list of 90-120 companies that you can then divide into Plan A and Plan B companies to be contacted. If you have more than 120 companies = too broad; if you have less than 90 = too narrow.

2. Step: Define your USPin detail:
Imagine the following scenario: a Finance Director who’d like to work for company Y is asked, “Why should Y hire you?”

Answer 1: Because I’m reliable, a good manager and loyal.
Our assessment: that’s the worst possible (yet fairly common) answer. Any descriptive adjectives won’t work. You are not a student anymore.

Answer 2: Because I have more than 10 years of experience in finance, I’m a good manager and I have experience working in international corporations.
Our assessment: this is a standard answer given by most candidates. It shows the recruiter or hiring manager why you qualify to be part of the recruitment process, but not why you should be hired – or at least shortlisted.

Answer 3: Because I have co-authored and delivered 2 restructuring projects in the last 3 years. In every role in the last 7 years, I have been able to identify savings of up to 0.5 M EUR. And I’ve been able to reduce unwanted rotation in the Finance department from 23% to 0% with 6 months of taking over.
Our assessment: this is the best possible answer that the fewest candidates give. It gives the Executive Search Consultant or HR department arguments to put you forth on the shortlist or even attach a recommendation for hiring you and not the other candidates.

How do you arrive at your USP? Here a couple of ideas:

  • Make a list of the last 7 years:
    2020:
    2019:
    2018:
    2017:
    2016:
    2015:
    2014:
    2013:
    and ask yourself: what projects did I deliver? What were the successes? Express everything in number where possible. And look for patterns.
  • Talk to your (former) colleagues, your mentor, a friendly recruiter.
  • Research your competition (e.g. on LinkedIn) and see what kind of professional qualifications, education, publications etc. they have and compare them to yourself.
  • Speak to a Career Angel for an objective assessment – free of charge; to schedule a call, click here.

3. Step: Update your CV (+ATS version!) & LinkedIn profilein detail:

  • Request a free CV Report here, to get an objective picture of how your CV matches against your co-competitors
  • Visit www.ThePerfectCV.eu for more tips
  • Make sure you have an ATS-compatible CV version; how to prepare it, read this
  • Update your LinkedIn profile to be in line with your CV (but not a copy/paste). Tips here
  • Request a free LinkedIn Report here, to make sure you’ve nailed it!

4. Step: Use all four job search channelsin detail:
The most effective course of action is to pursue all 4 channels parallel – without focusing on one particular one. Here are our most updated statistics:

The full Job Hunting Report for 2019 is here. The commentary for 2020 here.

Let’s look at the channels from most to least effective (as average of the last 3 years):

a) Speculative Introduction = 45.67% efficiency

  • Contact min. 75-90 decision makers (your potential boss, not HR) at well-selected companies directly (see 1st step). If you do not have a job, and are not financially prepared, target 90-120 right away.
  • Tips on how to find the email addresses, here.

If it applies to you (as a Plan A or B):

  • Contact 30-60 PE/VCs (unpredictable response rate!)
  • Contact 30-60 consulting firms

b) Networking = 29% efficiency

  • Activate your network. Tips on that here.

c) Executive Search Firms = 15% efficiency

  • Contact 30-50 headhunters that fit your role/specialization; the number will depend on the size of the country; The bigger the country, the higher the likelihood that it’s “city-driven” meaning that you research each city additionally and separately. Two good examples: Germany, US
  • If you are looking for a regional / global role, contact Practice Group Leaders within recruitment firms (unpredictable response rate!)
  • If you are looking for a job in Austria or Germany + you do speak German, make sure to have everything in German; and have a Xing profile!

d) Job Ads = 10.33% efficiency

  • Optimize your LinkedIn profile for job ads by researching & adding requested skills to your own profile. You’ll find them either directly published by the job posters or through the premium account by accessing “Competitive intelligence about other applicants”
  • Monitor online job ads: we do that for you on the LinkedIn Group: HJM – Hidden Job Market for Experienced Mangers in Europe

What to expect in terms of job search KPIs or “How do you know you are doing well?”
The two most important ones:
Response rate (RR) = ratio of reactions to effectively contacted people; a good RR: 30-50%
Interview rate (IVR) = ratio of interviews to effectively contacted people; a good IVR: 5-10%

Our definition of “effectively contacted” = 1st email + follow-up email after 7-10 days
People = correct decision makers, headhunters

If your RR and IVR are lower, somethings wrong. Here a checklist to review / audit all elements:

  • Am I targeting the right companies? And the right decision makers (not HR, unless – of course – you work in HR)?
  • Have I contacted all 90 – 120 companies? Have I sent all followups? Thank you emails? Connected with everyone on LinkedIn with a personalized, professional note?
  • Have I positioned myself correctly? Is it visible at first sight on the CV?
  • Have I sent the CV in .pdf?
  • Has my CV been proofread? Is it flawless?
  • Have I used the right subject line?
  • Is my cover email worded professionally and elegantly with my target group in mind?
  • Is my LinkedIn profile in line with my CV?
  • Am I answering the screening call questions adequately? (Note: if more than 1/3 of the screening calls don’t result in further interviews, something needs to be fixed!)

Are you an experienced manager or executive? Do you need help in identifying which element needs improvement, request a complimentary career consultation with one of our competent consultants, by clicking here or by sending an email to Bichl.Sandra@CareerAngels.eu who will personally match you with the most relevant Career Angel.

Dear employer, if you think about restructuring, make sure to give your employees the necessary support – especially now. For more information please visit: www.managerialplacement.eu

Summary of materials & links
And for ease of use, here a compiled list of all mentioned resources and some more:

Free Services:
Free Career Consultation
Free CV Report
Free LinkedIn Report
HJM – Hidden Job Market for Experienced Mangers in Europe (weekly compliation of hand-picked job ads)

Free Materials & further reading:
LinkedIn for job seekers
LinkedIn is not a CV
LinkedIn Activity Guidelines
CV for ATS or 10 lines that can change your life
Ghosting 👻
Career Advice that’s WRONG (1)
Step 1
Job Hunting Report 2019
The commentary for 2020
Email address search
Tools for job hunting – networking
Our FREE MATERIALS

Other links worth having a look at:
TED talk: Why you should define your fears instead of your goals
Udemy.com
Coursera.org
LinkedIn Learning
Free Ivy League MOOCs