Whenever nowadays I interact with mid to senior level professionals who are seeking a job change, the general mood seems to be as if it is doomsday. There may be lesser job opportunities and companies may have slowed down the hiring activity in few sectors. But in a dynamic marketplace, these crests and troughs are a normal part of any business cycle and one only needs to handle them by fine-tuning one’s approach. So what needs to be done?
Please do remember that for a candidate who demonstrates ‘value’ to an employer, there always exists a job. With a strong pitch combined with a deep desire and impactful action in the right direction, you can become a potential candidate even in slow market conditions. Needless to mention, you need to maintain a cool and non-reactive mindset and totally avoid falling prey to negative thoughts. Because only then can you think clearly and take corrective steps. All action points suggested below need to be implemented simultaneously. Only then you do not leave any stone unturned and come out as a winner!!
Follow these 6 Steps That Make You A Potential Candidate Even In A ‘Slow Job Market’
Step 1] Assisting your current Boss to achieve his/her goals :
While you might be seeking a job change, it is always important to focus on delivering outstanding results in your current job. Slow job market conditions also mean that business for your current company is a challenge. View this as a good opportunity to make yourself more valuable. Work closely with your bosses and understand what are the most critical needs at the moment to turn around the situation. Even your boss would be stretching himself/herself to deliver results or else his/her neck would be on the chopping block. By assisting your boss with concrete and innovative steps to achieve his/her goal, you would share the load and increase your worth to the company. During tough times companies are often open to experimenting with some out of the box ideas and you may suggest some. This step of adding enhanced value is important because you need to keep your current value secured otherwise during downsizing, generally speaking, companies let go of the non-performers or those who are high priced resources but not with equal returns. Importantly the prospective employers would also find you worthwhile, only if you demonstrate exceptional achievements in your current job.
Step 2] Honing of skill sets :
Sharping the saw, as they say, is a lifelong process. However, the need for upgrading your skills increases multifold when market conditions are slow. Make a list of all skills that are critical to performing the role in the positions that you are vying for. Research and select short credible courses to improve your ability to perform tasks that are in demand. For example, if you are in a leadership position and team handling is an area that requires improvement, take up a good credible short course which focuses on man management. Do keep in mind that honing of skills required by industries other than your existing one will help you transit smoothly. For some kind of direction on which areas you need to improve upon, it is also a good idea to take up some job strength related Profile Assessment test. With multiple choices of so many online courses, to select an appropriate one, you can always check for feedback from your seniors, colleagues or industry peers who would have done the courses? And in any case, you always have the option of reading up self study material/books (easy to access with today’s digital age) and apply your learning practically to your assignments in your current job. You can then do a self assessment on improvement in the deliverables which can be used as a demonstrable achievement. It also helps you evolve as an individual. Then there exists the choice of doing a post graduation management course, for example, a MBA from a reputed institute which you feel will genuinely add value. There are customised classes offered over the weekend.
Step 3] Studying Pain Points of Prospective Employers :
Make a list of prospective employers from the industries that you are targeting. Research the needs in terms of pain points of each employer. Think like a consultant in your domain and work out broad possible solutions for the challenges faced by the companies. This will also help you match your skill areas with each job and accordingly sharpen them. Irrespective of the fact whether there exists a vacancy or not, if you do in-depth homework and write to the business line manager or decision maker focusing upon your value proposition, there is every possibility that you will be called for a meeting. But you need to strike a chord with the reader through a powerful attention gaining communication.
Step 4] Shifting Industry and Relocating:
- Be open to transiting across industries as it will offer you a wider choice. But being open is only the first step. Since it is a new industry for you, a lot of in-depth study about the industry’s requirements in your domain will be required. First reading up job descriptions (even if they are slightly dated) by companies is a good starting point for your research on the specific requirements. Next, connect with professionals from the industries through LinkedIn and understand the nuances. Accordingly, you need to pitch for your candidature with a tailor-made approach.
- Considering a relocation will additionally increase your job options. If the job profile is enriching, it is worth moving to another city. On the family commitments front, you can always keep visiting them once in a fortnight or so over the weekend and you may want to discuss this kind of an arrangement with the prospective employer.
- Plus, it is important to keep an open mind to salary offered as per industry standards and the grades of the company in case you are shifting the industry. You need to look at it as a potential career shift and not just another job.
Step 5] Expanding your network :
It is a good opportunity to widen your net using the following influencers :
- Prospective Hiring managers, HR professionals and Recruitment Agencies: They all have the potential to hire you. Through the LinkedIn platform, connect with them but focus on the rapport that needs to be developed gradually by presenting a value proposition. The act should not be of simply sending a connection invite. Because these individuals would not know of you, asking for a job prospect in the first instance will backfire.
- Ex-bosses and ex-colleagues: Run through your list of ex-bosses, ex-colleagues and connect with them. Going and meeting them to understand what are their companies’ hiring trends will be helpful. And these individuals can always act as a point of reference and for a recommendation in case, there exists a vacancy in the company they are employed with or some other which they would know of.
Step 6] Developing a consultancy based thought process :
Whether you are currently employed in a job or not, such occasions of slow market conditions should be capitalised upon to position yourself as provider of consultancy services. Study the needs of a targeted list of mid-sized and smaller companies which are related to your domain expertise and identify the need gaps. Many of these smaller firms have well-established brands but, at times cannot afford a full time qualified professional. But they do have the potential to hire such services on a retainer or a part consultancy basis. Here again, you will need to pitch yourself as an expert in your field presenting a value proposition. If you are currently employed, it still is a good idea to simultaneously take up assignments on a project basis to which you can devote time over weekends. Even if compensation offered is minimal, consider good juicy projects and accept them. It strengthens your brand image in the job market and over a period of time, you will remain in demand.
With these actionable steps, I can assure you that you as a candidate will always remain valuable in the job market irrespective of the market conditions. So go for them and be a winner!!