Founder and International MD of BeecherMadden, Cyber Security Awards and American Cyber Awards Judge, Industry Speaker.
Trying to change jobs at the moment can feel like a difficult task. The dire state of the economy and news reports on the uncertainty of any recovery makes this a worrying time. Many people with jobs feel lucky to still be employed. I hear from plenty of workers that they feel selfish in even considering a move.
But there are others out there who are ready to change jobs. Perhaps 2020 just stalled the plans they already had to change jobs. Some employers have not treated their employees well, and this has spurred them to consider a move more seriously. For some, quarantine has been a time of reflection, and there is a desire to pivot their career into something more fulfilling.
A quick glance at job adverts on LinkedIn shows hundreds of applicants fighting for each job. It isn’t uncommon to see postings with over 500 applicants. Your chance of success with these adverts is low, and it can be disheartening to apply to jobs without ever hearing back. In-person events are canceled, and it is hard to build the same connection in virtual events. Couple this with the bad news reports on the number of available jobs, and it can feel impossible to progress your career at the moment.
What is important is that job seekers focus on the positive news. There are job adverts, which means companies are hiring. There are more new jobs each month. And as we get used to operating virtually, the way we build connections is changing.
The first thing to do is to use the network you already have. Reach out to people you have met or worked with and ask for their help. Ask their advice, or just ask them to keep you in mind if they hear of anything that would be suitable. Don’t just consider the people you are close to; reach out to people who you may not have spoken to for some time. Offer to reciprocate as well. You never know; they may also be considering a move and be grateful for your help.
As well as people in your network, reach out to new contacts. I have seen a considerable increase in the number of people who are open to helping with career moves. Some have been vocal with these offers. Many understand that this year has been difficult, and that has made them more open to helping others if they are able to do so. Connect with people in companies you would like to work for or who are doing your target job. Ask for their advice or just to connect. LinkedIn is the best way to do this, but there are other networking sites and websites that can help you find email addresses, all for free.
It is not as easy to network at most virtual events, but you should still attend them. Much like attending in-person events, one of the benefits is demonstrating your commitment to your chosen industry. It also gives you a great opportunity to connect with other participants, especially if initiating directly feels uncomfortable to you. This is a warm introduction. At roundtable events, get involved in the comments as much as possible. Use event sites to find online events where participation and networking are encouraged, such as virtual happy hours.
This has been a great year for upskilling, with so many courses being available for free. This is especially important if you are considering a career pivot into something new. Showing that you have invested in acquiring new skills will be very attractive to a prospective employer.
The final thing to do is consider your own personal brand. Update your LinkedIn profile to really showcase the skills that you have. I see so many profiles without any achievements or responsibilities listed. This makes it harder for recruiters to find you and makes it less likely for them to reach out. If someone is reviewing your application, they are likely to look at your online presence, and this needs to match the jobs you are trying to get. Make sure your resume is up to date and ask for advice to make sure it reflects you at your best. Get involved on your social media of choice by publishing content that is relevant for your job search and interacting with others in your industry.
While it can feel challenging to move jobs right now, there are many people doing it successfully. I’ve seen promotions, pivots and people who’ve found new jobs in record time. It may require a little more effort to make those connections, but there is still plenty of opportunity to get ahead.
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