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According to recruiting specialist John Sullivan, “looking for a job has changed forever” because of the pandemic. Forever is, of course, a very long time. But there will certainly be significant changes in the short- and mid-term. Sullivan identifies a few key adjustments on his blog that are worth paying attention to if your own work situation has been upended.

  • You will have to wait longer to get a job: With fewer job openings, recruiters will be let go, meaning there will be fewer people available to handle applications while the number of applicants swells, given current unemployment rates. “This means that it will take weeks longer for a company to make hiring decisions,” Sullivan says. “Therefore, you will have to be in a stronger economic position to be able to hold out until you receive a great next job. Of course, in some especially troubled industries, like the airlines, it may be years before there is a realistic chance for a person from outside the industry to get in.”
  • You will need to excel at video interviews: Given transportation limitations and with so many people working from home, remote video interviews may become standard. You may be a brilliant candidate, but is your video connection of equal quality? Sullivan warns that bad interview ratings can be a result of inadequate lighting, microphones and background visibility issues – and, of course, how you come across on video, including your posture.
  • You will need to be prepared for automated interviews: Sullivan says the inflated number of applicants per recruiter will likely mean more organizations will require candidates to undergo at least one automated interview, with questions from a software package or a chatbot. “In this format, the content of your interview answers will become much more critical. With this technology, the impact of your smile, voice inflection or personality is greatly reduced. Many will also find that it is hard to show excitement when there is no human on the other end of the interview questions,” he advises.
  • If unemployed, even for a short time, be prepared for the “are you rusty?” question: That seems unfair – the economy crashed in unparalleled fashion – but many hiring managers are prejudiced against the unemployed. So don’t volunteer the fact that you were out of work, even for a month, Sullivan says. “You also need to be prepared to convince the interviewer that your skills are 100-per-cent up-to-date and that you won’t need costly additional training or extra ramp-up time. In the same light, if you have been laid off or given reduced hours, you need to be able to provide convincing arguments that those reductions were not as a result of your performance,” he says.

Executive recruiter Gerald Walsh also offers some advice for job applicants on his blog that might be helpful. Here are his top 10 red flags that interviewers watch for:

  • Speaking negatively about former employers (which indicates a tendency to always blame others for problems);
  • Long, rambling answers (which indicates disorganized thinking and unpreparedness);
  • Displaying little or no enthusiasm for the company or the job (which indicates poor attitude and suggests you are applying for the wrong reasons);
  • A pattern of leaving jobs due to disagreements with your boss (which indicates you are difficult to work with);
  • Ambiguity about why you left a particular job, especially when not immediately moving on to another one (which implies that you are hiding something);
  • Consistently using buzzwords without being able to back them up with real examples (which implies that you are superficial);
  • Starting to answer questions before the interviewer has completed asking the question (which indicates poor listening skills);
  • Not asking questions at conclusion of the interview (which indicates a lack of curiosity);
  • Not knowing the names and positions of people who are interviewing them (which indicates unpreparedness);
  • Poor eye contact (which implies poor listening skills).

Job-hunting is never easy, and in these unprecedented times, it’s more challenging than ever. Some aspects have changed, while others – like those red flags – will likely always ring true. Keep this advice in mind.

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Quick hits

  • These days, the world is divided into those who know how to unmute easily on Zoom and those who don’t. Hit the space bar to join those doing it on the fly.
  • If you suddenly found yourself working from home, take the time you would usually spend commuting and spend it on a slow-paced activity like taking a walk or cooking a meal, says productivity consultant Chris Bailey. Don’t fill those extra hours with distractions that create anxiety, such as scrolling through Twitter.
  • And don’t consider that unproductive time. Cal Newport, author of Digital Minimalism, says when he talks of his purposefully disconnected life, others will comment that he is missing out on the creative possibilities that come from exposure to new people through social media and other technologies. He counters that it’s not a lack of input that stymies creative breakthroughs, but rather lack of time spent quietly with your thoughts.
  • If you have a tendency to catastrophize, clinical psychologist Traci Stein recommends the 100-year rule: Ask yourself whether in 100 years whatever seems catastrophic now will really matter. How about in 20 years? Or five? Or even a month from now? When you start as far down the line as you can imagine and then switch to closer time frames, she says you will see that the current situation likely isn’t as big a deal as you feared.
  • New research by two professors at the University of Michigan shows that native ads that mimic the content surrounding them tend to draw more clicks than traditional display advertising, although those traditional display ads generate more brand recognition. When native ads are clearly labelled, advertisers can benefit from greater brand awareness without sacrificing much in terms of click-through rates.

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