The coronavirus pandemic is posing immense and unique problems for the job market, making it daunting for those trying to find a job. But people have had to find work in crises before. And succeeded.
MBA alumni-turned-leaders who found work during the 2008-09 financial crisis offer advice on how to navigate through these turbulent waters and come out triumphant.
Did you know there’s an art of diagnosing your career situation, and that this should be your first task? Three more steps follow, advise these inspirational voices from IESE Business School: focusing and researching, preparing and being visible, and being a star in your interview.
1. Acknowledge And Diagnose
You’re looking for a job in a time of crisis and the task seems too big to tackle at first.
The first step is to give yourself time and self-empathy to understand what is happening to your inner self. Take time to ease the pace, investigate your emotions, and name your feelings. Start by listening to yourself in the bad moments you have during the day.
It’s so important to acknowledge what is really happening to you. Let’s break that down: How does this crisis affect you as an individual? What do you feel? Writing down how you feel can be a good start. Create a list.
How can you turn the situation around? You can make good headway by following three small steps: stay calm, stay resilient and stay curious.
The people who succeed are those who dare to think differently, who seek new answers, and never stop learning. The ones who are creative and hungry for new, eclectic adventures, who collaborate with others and try to pursue their dreams no matter what.
Then you’re ready to ask: what are your strengths and blind spots?
Knowing your strong and weak spots can set you in the right direction. It’s usually hard to self-diagnose, but always a good exercise. Ask for others’ opinions in order to enrich your list. Your business acumen is that “sting,” that special knack for business that makes you one of a kind, or stronger than others. Write it down.
2. Focus And Research
Focus is important to showing the world your goals and motivation. And this doesn’t cease to be the case in a job search.
It is also much easier to demonstrate when your mind is clear. It helps others guide you too, and as such acts as a support for recruiters trying to find you the role you want.
It is the first thing a career adviser will tell you to do, whether or not you’re in a crisis situation. Focus is maybe the most difficult and ignored part of the process, but the most essential.
You will have to break through certain barriers in order to focus. These include the fact you are spoiled for choice; grappling with mixed emotions and the quest to find meaning.
What did the IESE MBA ’08 and ’09 alums do when they graduated in the middle of a huge crisis? What was their approach to being focused? “I am an outsider, so I wanted to try something on my own and not rely on somebody else,” says Abhishek Mohan’s (IESE MBA ’08), whose focus was to be the owner of his professional life. This gave him the energy to move forward as a freelancer and then develop his own business. “If you have a dream, go for it,” he says.
3. Prepare And Be Visible
It’s all about networking before you’ve got a job and also during. But more than ever in times of crisis, a strong network is essential to unlocking the hidden job market and finding roles that have not been widely advertised.
An enormous number of positions are filled through personal connections, as companies hire through referrals, and existing employees are financially rewarded if their referred applicant gets hired. This makes it all the more crucial for you to maintain good relationships with people who can help you get a foot in the door.
Don’t leave any stone unturned. In a job search, one of the main actions is to connect with people.
But there are many reasons to keep networking during a crisis. One may be to start your own business. Abhishek wanted to be his own boss. He leveraged his existing
professional network to find clients and get started as a freelancer.
Another motivation may be to get advice. For Patricia, staying in Europe was the priority. She used the IESE alumni network and Career Development Center, making a list of people she would talk to, to learn from their experiences and pick up advice. Even though it was a tough time for recruiters and companies, she felt that people were very helpful and eventually found useful tips to reach her goal.
Further reasons to network during crises include staying connected (this can pay off), putting all the odds on your side (you could end up being recommended by someone internally amidst a multitude of applicants), and finding hidden opportunities. Remember, the job you get might be your dream one but was not published anywhere.
4. Be A Star In Your Job Interview
We often hear about storytelling in advertising and yet probably don’t readily associate it with the art of coming across well in job interviews. Storytelling, though, is too you can use to share a clear and inspiring message with recruiters and prospective employers.
Recruiters ask us to talk about ourselves. We often say a lot, but don’t leave a coherent or lasting impression. Stay calm and be natural. Tell your story.
The STAR methodology provides an easy-to-remember, step-by-step process that will help you verbalize your past experiences optimally and give you the opportunity to practice sharing your skills and competencies in a compelling way.
“STAR” stands for Situation, Task, Actions, and Results. The Situation pertains to the content; that is the facts about where you were working, when, what your role was, and who you reported to. Task relates to your task; meaning the specific objectives, who you worked with, the timeline, and the metrics you put in place to measure your success.
Then there are Actions, or “how you got things done”. That boils down to examples of all the actions you took, linked in a clear way to the competency being assessed. Finally, the all-important Results, otherwise described as the outcome. You must explain how the results you achieved related to the original task. This involves providing quantifiable information to illustrate the long-term impact, explaining the feedback you received, and ideally offering something you might have done differently.
Tell a STAR story, and you will boost your chances of shining among a crowd of interviewees.