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The world of the Covid candidate – How to find your next job has changed

Written By Nick Begy

What the Covid Crisis has done is change the world forever, and none more so than in the job search/recruitment market. The market is awash with talent, the job board awash with roles that seemingly don’t exist or are out of date. You try and engage with the agencies and businesses to find your next role and get no response. You apply online and never hear anything back.

The way you searched for jobs in the past was pretty formulaic. You replied to job adverts and you engaged with recruitment consultants specialising in your field. Now the world is not so simple. A stat I saw recently saw that the success rate online job boards was between 2 and 5%, and many recruitment agencies are more worried about volume of CV’s, than actually engaging and creating relationships.

So what does that mean for me and you?

This is not a post about how to build the perfect LinkedIn profile and personal brand, we already have loads on this, but about when we have this, how do we get this in to the market place to find a new role.

Networking for your job search is the future.

Networking for your job search is the future.

What do I mean by this, and how do we maximise that opportunity to help your job search:

1.      Build your social network on LinkedIn

2.      Create content and build engagement

3.      Target recruitment consultants in your sector

4.      Target businesses and individuals in your sector

1.      Build your LinkedIn network

As we mentioned above, the days of using job adverts alone to find a new job are past. There are too many “ghosts” out there, jobs which simply aren’t there, or aren’t all they seem.

Therefore you have to build your personal brand and your personal network. This is something I have worked hard on in the past and continue to do so.

a)      Connect with colleagues from the past – use the company search function on LinkedIn to find those that worked where you have and connect. Ask them for recommendations, and this will begin to build your own personal branding on LinkedIn

b)      Connect with suppliers you have used, and again ask them for recommendations, as the more you have, the better your personal brand will be, and lead to a more powerful job search

c)      Look through the list of people you may know, but DO NOT press connect on this page. This will simply send a generic request which looks lazy. Go to their profile and connect from here, which has the option to send a personalised message.

d)      Where you find posts you line, or content that engages with you, ask to connect to the poster. I recommend you use the “add a note” function to explain why you want to connect, as a cold invite with no explanation does not build a relationship. When they accept please thank them

e)      Ask for introductions from your own contacts

And now for the Secret Squirrel moment……

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If you were in business, and you had spent a heap of time on your marketing material, or in this case your personal brand, to sell more, or here to find a new job, would you promote the competition. My suggestion is not, but on your profile, it shows “People also viewed”……mmmmm, so what if some clicks on to one of them? Your time has been wasted. HOWEVER, you can simply turn off this facility in the “Settings and Privacy” section of “Me” on your profile. Worth considering don’t you think?

1.      Create content and build engagement


You are doing great! We have used our own personal network now to build a foundation, and get some recommendations for you and to supercharge your job search.

Now we need to build on these, and show the world what you have to offer, and to widen your network.

Research contemporary issues in your sector and look to use your experience to write an article that will be a solution to a problem. This is easily done via the article functionality on LinkedIn and gives you a step by step guide on how to do this. Show yourself as an expert in what you do.

Make sure it is engaging. Picture in your head who is reading this, and speak to them how they want to be spoken to, in their language and their tone. It has to be easy to read.

Break up text with images, diagrams and bullets, reduce the amount of effort it takes to digest this. PLUS make sure all your posts have an image as the header, which creates huge standout in what can be a vanilla landscape of text posts.

Then, when you are happy publish it to your profile.

BUT, that’s not the end.

a)      As you get comments, please thank them, and if appropriate ask to connect. You know they are in your field, so ideal for your growing network. The more you have the further your job search reach will be

b)      Search on LinkedIn for professional in your field, and ask them to read your article and comment, again with the same follow up process.

c)      Post your article on relevant group and company pages

What we are doing is raising a big flag saying “hey look at me, I know a lot about this areas and can help YOU”. Wave that “I am great flag” no one else will.

OR will they?

Well they can. What I have found really helpful is to approach those in my network, and ask selected ones to shout my case. They have networks of their own, and a posted recommendation of your profile, can quite easily drive new contacts for you to engage with. Don’t be shy!!!


2.      Create your own network of recruitment consultants.

It takes a pandemic to show things how they really are, and how the world again must change, and how you need to refocus the way you carry out your job search.

Recruitment Agencies – good or evil?

The bedrock of recruitment, and your first port of call in a storm, and certainly this is a metaphorical storm. I think I can put agencies basically in to 2 categories:

1.      The Blunderbuss – an old fashioned weapon, I give you that, but effective in its time. The methodology is post as many jobs online as you can, harvest as many CVs as you can, and fire the latter at the former. With the old blunderbuss, didn’t really need to aim much as sure to hit something. What I have found now, in today’s world, this is archaic, and dare I say unprofessional for those doing a professional job. As someone who recruits myself the CVs sent to me, with little regard to the business are unbelievable, most are rejected, probably won’t cherish that recruiter, and the candidate rarely hears a thing and left in no man’s land. I recall a personal experience man moons ago when I was approached for a role at a large retailer wanting expert SAS knowledge. I had none, but was still being encouraged to attend an interview. Beggars belief.

2.      The sniper/assassin – the true professional. Takes time to understand their client, their culture and their requirements. Won’t put out a job description requiring every skill under the sun for minimum wage. Carefully selects candidates. Even, now don’t mock me for this, actually talks to them. Yes, understand them as a person to get a good fit. In today’s market, a blunderbuss won’t work, the roles are more specialist and targeted, cultures more nuanced. I’ve come across a few in the recent past, so comment if you want their details.

Where is the future? Who will succeed post Covid? I’m no recruitment consultant, I am someone who will recruit, and I know where I want to be. Clients also have to change. How can you expect a good fit if you won’t engage in the process? Why is it seen as a chore to discuss your requirements, or meet with consultants and work hand in glove? Guess what, beggar’s belief. It’s as if senior managers see getting involved as beneath them.

But then you come across the true professionals. They are honest, and tell you the market is dead. But they understand that the demand will return, and they are spending that time engaging with candidates and understanding them. They give you confidence it isn’t your CV etc that is wrong, and gives you the reassurance to remain pragmatic.

I have built my network, to start with by searching for recruitment companies on LinkedIn in my sector. I have not bombarded them with CVs that is the next stage, I simply sent an invite, with a explanation of who I am and what I am looking for, and ask them to message me if they have anything appropriate.

Why this way round? To avoid my friend “The Blunderbuss”. Those who are interested in you as a candidate will get in touch, even if they have not got anything current. From this method I have built up a small group of consultants who I can have an honest chat with. It is so reassuring to hear that it is not you, not your CV, not your lockdown haircut that is the problem, but it is the market.

One final trick……abracadabra

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The other day I was reading the local news, and noticed a local business had been taken over by new investors. This I found really interesting, and more so when I read about their plans. I then looked for the new owner on LinkedIn, and sent him a note congratulating him on the purchase, and how exciting it was for the local area. This lead to an online discussion, his mobile, and an offer to meet on site.

So keep your ear to the ground. News like this normally means change, and new hires, so show you are proactive and passionate, and get in there before they have even thought about how they will achieve their goal. Be that catalyst.

So my lesson to you, is go out and build your brand, build networks, share your knowledge, make yourself an expert in your field.

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