Don’t Let the Economy Scare You
Layoffs. No one likes them, but here we are. The driver? There isn’t just one—it’s more of a “perfect” storm. According to Forbes, it’s been building since the pandemic. Companies that got caught up in the hiring frenzy during the Great Resignation overhired or hired candidates that weren’t the perfect fit for the job. It was a good time to be looking for a job. Candidates had their pick of the litter, able to look around, consider multiple options, and state their demands.
But then turbulence in the economy began to poke its head into the mix. Business leaders, worried about climbing interest rates and a possible recession, began looking to the lowest-hanging fruit. Often the first to go during cutbacks are non-essential employees. Layoffs are so prominent these days that there’s even a website to track layoffs per company in real-time.
So, where does all of this put you? Clearly, the market has shifted, and it’s no longer a “candidate market” for job hunting in the tech & digital space, in particular. But take a breath. The economy ebbs and flows like everything else in life, so it’s not to be feared. You can still find a great job. You just have to differentiate yourself from others and prove you are “essential.”
Yes, there are good jobs ready to be had for those candidates who put in the work. As recruiting experts, we thought it a good time to offer our best tips for finding a job in this down economy. Consider it your cheat sheet for positioning yourself a step ahead of the competition.
Tip #1: Take some time to analyze your career and next move
You’re likely not looking for your first job. You have experience and skills that you bring to the table. History. Lessons learned. Now is the time to reflect on every position you’ve held during your career, before you start applying. Ask yourself:
- What did I love and dislike about my previous jobs?
- If I could have worked in a different position at those companies, would my performance and drive have changed?
Next, consider your current reality, and ask yourself a few more questions:
- Is it the right time to make a pivot if necessary?
- What are my must-haves vs. wants?
Then, visualize your future and ask:
- What is my dream job?
- What type and size of company do I want to work for?
The size of the companies you want to work for should be concise. Both small and larger companies have their advantages and disadvantages, much like a college. Spend some time thinking through all of the implications to your career.
Tip #2: Give your resume a refresh
You may think your resume is fine, but imagine it sitting side-by-side with 50 other resumes on the desk of the hiring manager. Every one of those resumes is legitimate, advertising highly capable candidates for just one coveted position. Will your resume tell your story in a compelling and persuasive way to get attention? Will it stand out?
Your resume should be a living document, constantly evolving to accurately reflect your history, skills and personality but also the industry in which you are applying. The manager should clearly see the connection without you having to explain it in person. You may never get the opportunity to talk personally with a hiring manager, so tailor your resume to fit the narrative you want to tell.
Spend the time and effort to polish your resume, making sure keywords are included to highlight your skills that are relevant to the available position. Focus more on the results you achieved rather than the duties and responsibilities, such as “Grew YOY revenue by X.” And of course, ensure the format is aesthetically pleasing, and the content is clean and error-free. Check out this Harvard site for more great tips.
Tip #3: Get active on LinkedIn
How much time do you spend on LinkedIn? If you’re not active, you should be. Hiring managers use LinkedIn, and if you want to be seen, you need to be active. You can also use it to research companies and hiring managers so you’re prepared when you get that interview. Here are some things you can do to optimize your profile:
- Keep your profile current with your latest professional information and experience
- In the “About” section, make sure you describe a clear picture of your background and areas of expertise.
- Enable “Open to Finding a New Job”, completing all of the preference data (Job Titles, Workplaces, Job Locations, Start Date and Job Types). Companies with a premium LinkedIn license will use this filter when sourcing candidates.
- Follow any company you are interested in so you will receive an alert of any company updates or job openings. As an example, go to our page and just click “Follow”.
- “Like” a comment on relative posts, especially if they are from the company you’re targeting.
- Publish your own post specifically about something related to your job expertise.
- Lean on this LinkedIn hack to significantly help increase your profile views.
- Be honest about your need for a job after a layoff. We have seen it work well when people share their layoff stories. Most posts show gratitude for the company they left and then state what they are looking for next. Others will often repost to their networks to help out, extending your reach exponentially.
Prep Tip #4: Search for a job the smart way
There is an art to looking for a job. Some start with online job searches, but applying on a job board will likely have a low success rate because humans rarely see those applications. A bot typically screens keywords, and if you’re lucky, it might queue a human to actually read it. If you want to stay in the loop; however, you can set up alerts on various platforms like Google, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor, but take it a step further.
Go to LinkedIn and/or Google and find someone within that organization you can reach out to personally. Showing initiative and grinding through the process will likely impress the hiring team and get you an interview that may have otherwise never happened.
Use your LinkedIn connections to help. Think Bacon’s Law (a.k.a. Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon)—everyone has connections and can connect you with their network. Reach out to friends, family, previous coworkers, first-degree connections, alumni contacts, etc. The more conversations you have, the more seeds you plant. You never know when one of them will sprout.
The same goes for networking events. Attend them, even if you don’t feel like it. From networking happy hours and professional organization presentations to career fairs and industry-specific events, these are fertile grounds for building connections and discovering opportunities.
And don’t forget recruiters. They’re not all bad, despite their reputation. Talk with a reputable, established agency. They have front-row seats to marketing trends, compensation data and trends, perks and benefits, and hiring managers. They can be your best friend when looking for a new job and save you a ton of time and frustration.
Tip #5: Be prepared to make some concessions
Just in the rearview mirror was the candidate market, allowing job seekers to have the leverage on compensation requirements, perks and work-life balance. Those days are over, at least for now. As the supply of qualified candidates increases, you may need to be more flexible on your salary and work-from-home asks. A recent Microsoft Work Trend Index Special Report found that 50% of companies want workers back in the office five days a week, and we can only assume more will follow.
On another note, be open to contract and contract-to-hire positions. They can be an effective way to get your foot in the door and give you a chance to “try out” the company before you consider going full-time. You can demonstrate your skills and win over managers and have greater flexibility to negotiate hiring terms.
Tip #6: Prepare, prepare, prepare for the interview
You know you need to go into an interview prepared, whether it’s over the phone, via video or in person, but what does that mean?
- Research the company inside and out and have a good understanding of the people who will interview you, even the HR/recruiters. It goes a long way to be able to say, “I checked out your LinkedIn profile and noticed you grew up in Houston…me too!” Or “I noticed you’ve been in HR with XYZ company for four years…they must be doing something right!” Breaking the ice and establishing rapport at the start gets you off on the right foot, and everyone in the hiring process collaborates.
- Don’t oversell your capabilities. You can only fake it for so long before you’re in trouble or feel like a fool. Be yourself and show your true colors during the interview.
- Don’t trash talk your previous company, no matter how bad it was or what the interviewer asks. Find a creative way to express gratitude for the opportunity while mentioning it ended up not being a fit.
- Dress the part, regardless if the interview is in person or via video.
- Be on time. Be early. Never ever make them wait, including on video.
- If it is a video interview, make sure your background is a positive reflection of your dedicated workspace so they have confidence you can successfully work from home if necessary.
Tip #7: Treat everyone with respect during the process
This tip seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many clients we work with tell us nightmare stories of rude candidates. People notice more than what’s on your resume; they notice your character. Soft skills matter, and so do the words you use.
Whether it’s a receptionist, a recruiter or an HR or hiring manager, treat everyone with respect and be kind. Kindness doesn’t cost a cent, and people like to work with kind people who lift up others and support them.
Show respect for their time and the opportunity by following up with every person who interviewed you. You should have their email address from the interview, but if not, email your point of contact who arranged the interview and ask them to either send you the email addresses or forward your message to each of the interviewers.
It is an interesting time, for sure, but companies are still hiring, still looking for great candidates, and still hoping to see something in their candidate pool that stands out. Follow our tips, and you are already a step ahead of many. Want more help landing your dream job? Zilker Partners is here to work with you throughout your career, helping you identify new opportunities in any economy and grow as a professional. Contact us to learn more about our unique process.