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about 1 month ago by Mauricio Groso

10 Job Search Strategies for IT Professionals During Covid

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It’s virtually impossible to scroll through a social media feed nowadays and not be faced with news stories about unemployment, infection rates and travel restrictions. I'm sure you’re tired of hearing the phrase “a new normal” by now too. And if you or your family has been affected by the pandemic, it’s particularly difficult to process everything when you may also be searching for a new job.

Companies have had to put positions on hold as they navigate the current crisis and plan ahead for the future. This has resulted in many talented IT and creative professionals searching for work.

Now, we’re not here to paint fairy tales in the sky. That helps no one. The current employment landscape is tougher than it has been in the last while.

That said, it is still entirely possible to find a great role in IT.

Restrictions might still be in place, but we’re further ahead in figuring out how to deal with the virus than we were in March 2020. There is some comfort in that.

Furthermore, brands and organisations are now shifting their mindsets fully into recovery mode. The road ahead might be long, but the focus is now on building for the future. IT talent is crucial to those growth plans.

A pause to acknowledge 2020’s toll

Before we get started though, it’s worth acknowledging that the physical and mental toll the pandemic has taken on everyone, including you. While the behavioural consequences of “lockdown fatigue” are becoming more obvious, the psychological impact of the pandemic is a complex and evolving picture that is unlikely to be understood for some time.

It’s easy for anyone (including myself) to suggest what steps you should take next to find a new role, but it’s important to be kind to yourself during a time like this. We all have days where we feel unproductive, unable to concentrate, and in desperate need of relaxation or distractions to help us get through the day.

Job search strategies to catch the attention of your dream employer

We’ve provided 10 strategies below to provide you with a headstart when you begin your job search.

Implementing these strategies in your job search will ensure you showcase your skills stack to employers who are recruiting. Rest assured, there are definitely employers recruiting right now.

Quickly summarised, the 10 strategies are:

1) Show your passion for the industry
2) Demonstrate your skills
3) Upskill your knowledge
4) Provide assistance
5) Fine-tune your CV
6) Ask for help
7) Hone in on what you really want to do
8) Network regularly
9) Consider your digital brand
10) Invest in your cover letter

Let’s take a deeper look at each of these strategies, and how you can use them to empower yourself as you seek your next role.

1) Show your passion for the industry

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it.
- Steve Jobs

Passion is a word that gets overused a lot, but there is no replacement for enthusiasm and commitment. People who embody a real love for their industry will find it far easier to land roles than people who don’t.

The key, of course, is to demonstrate your passion for IT. Just saying it convinces no one.

A number of ideas spring to mind of just how you can do this.

●      Attend an event and write a roundup post (on any given night of the week, numerous webinars and online get-togethers are happening - join in and write about what you’ve learnt)

●      Live tweet during the event (tag relevant people and find something positive to say - and watch your reach grow)

●      Ask questions during the Q&A session

●      Follow industry-relevant hashtags on Twitter and contribute to discussions about your discipline and industry

●      Share a weekly roundup of industry news

●      Create a list of industry experts to follow

●      Participate in forums, groups and Slack channels

●      Ask people for advice via LinkedIn

●      Host an event of your own (either online or offline while following health guidelines)

2) Showcase your skills

You want to make it as easy as possible for a prospective employer to understand what you value you can offer. Employers want to know that you’re a good fit for the role they’re hiring for.

For example, if you’re a front-end developer, you may want to build out your own portfolio site. Create your own blog that shares a point of view on a specific area of your industry. Share knowledge via regular posts that focus on UX and site speed etc. And/or contribute to industry publications. Blog on platforms like Quora, Medium or LinkedIn.

There are so many opportunities to showcase your talent and ability.

 

3) Upskill your knowledge

It has never been easier to upskill.

Best of all, upskilling now doesn’t need to mean signing up for an MBA anymore. Of course, if you want to do an MBA, that’s great and you should go ahead and achieve your goal.

However, with the advent of platforms like LinkedIn Learning and Udemy (to name just two), you can access courses that are bite-sized and specifically aim to impart just one skill.

This means you can go really deep into thoroughly learning a new skill in a short time-frame. Your commitment to upskilling will also reassure employers that you’re eager to contribute to your team and industry.

Top tip: Think of business skills that can help you get ahead when you upskill. Training courses such as public speaking or how to create engaging presentations don’t seem related to IT - and they’re not. However, they could pay major dividends for a new employer.

 

4) Volunteer your time

Working for free is a minefield to wade into. Rightly, there are big societal and political conversations going on around internships and working for free.

Our advice is to consider volunteering your time as a win/win opportunity. There is no shame in making sure there is something in it for you. In fact, you should absolutely make sure there is!

Let’s say you help an industry expert put together an event. Make this offer with a clear boundary around how much time you’re willing to commit. And ensure this is manageable for yourself. You don’t have to offer 40 hours a week.

You’ll be able to ask for a testimonial or an introduction to potential employers by doing this. And you’ve now got another demonstration of your skills.

 

5) Fine-tune your CV

It’s time to revisit your CV which probably hasn’t been updated since you secured your last role. You’re not alone - mine is gathering dust in some random folder on my desktop (mauricio_CV_2015_1_final_CV8.doc) that is about as old as the MacBook I’m typing on.

Your first thought may be to download a shiny CV template like the free ones on HubSpot but I urge you to avoid them at all costs. 

Rather join one of our regular CV Workshops. Follow Next Generation on our social accounts to see when our next event is. We host them weekly.

One point that we keep highlighting at our weekly CV Workshop is the importance of having a clean and simple CV that quickly highlights your past roles, achievements and contact information. A CV that takes this approach to design and copywriting works best. (Our workshop will show you exactly how to achieve this.) You should also check out our Free CV Templates.

 

6) Ask for help

No one is saying that there is a silver lining to the Covid cloud, but mostly we’ve seen the better nature of people shine through. We want to help each other, and we also realise that this recovery is going to take all of us.

Therefore be clear in asking for help. No one can know how to help you unless you explain exactly what it is that you need.

Naturally, it’s important to be respectful of people’s time and to clearly frame your request so that it is easy to understand.

But you’ll be surprised at how effective asking can be.

 

7) Hone in on what you want to do

One of the ironies of life is that the more specific you get about things, the more likely success is to follow.

It is a difficult time, but saying you want just any job helps no one. It doesn’t help the people who could help you get a new role as they don’t know what you’re specifically looking for. And it doesn’t help you to create a perception that is so vague.

You need to be clear about your area of expertise, what you’re passionate about, and the title and level of seniority you want from your next employer.

If you’re not confident about your next step, your CV will confuse recruiters and hiring managers when they read it.

Take a step back and think hard about what gets you excited about IT as an industry. Then think about the role you’d like to take in your industry.

Clearly identifying that you’re at that phase of your career will help you create a robust CV and explain what you’re looking for.

 

8) Networking regularly

Networking has a problematic reputation, which is unfortunate as it is an absolute superpower of a skill.

Building relationships is the best way to future-proof ourselves, no matter what circumstances life may throw us. (Let’s be honest; in 2020 the lemons just keep on coming.)

You can do this online or offline, but two things remain key.

●      Authenticity

●      Consistency

J. Kelly Hoey spoke at Inspirefest in 2017 about the value of networking - and how to do it well.

 

9) Consider your digital brand

Yes, you have one.

If you’ve haven’t yet created an online presence, e.g. LinkedIn profile, blog, website, that means you have an absent digital brand. Not a good look - and especially not during a pandemic.

You don’t need to be everywhere online, but you do need to be present.

At the very least, you need to be on LinkedIn.

 

10) Invest in your cover letter

If your CV is a streamlined document of your skills and abilities, your cover letter is where you can inject some personality and style.

This also needs to be a brief document, but you can write it in such a way that you can strongly influence the outcome you are hoping for. The outcome in this case being gaining an invite to an interview.

We cover how to write a strong cover letter in our CV Workshop.

These 10 strategies will help you find the role you are looking for. Make sure you’re looking after yourself and accept that your job search might take time.

Then treat your job search like a job. The results you gain for yourself could surprise you in the most wonderful way!