Complex Made Simple

How to stand out from the crowd when job hunting during COVID-19

Start the new year right by delving into some tried and true methods to secure your career in 2021.

Before you apply for any positions, it is essential that you build a target list of organizations that are linked to your industry experience or able to utilize your transferable skillset Unless you are relatively new to the working world or a graduate, ignore the common misconception that “Your CV should be no longer than two pages” Spending time connecting with industry professionals, hiring managers and recruiters both on Linkedin and at networking events will build your network and reputation within the market

Author: Nathan Kearney, Head of Recruitment at Dubai-headquartered PH Real Estate

As we finally put 2020 behind us and step into 2021, we find ourselves in a different position than we were at this same time last year. Many of us have found ourselves escaping the shadow of potential redundancy and unfortunately some may already have ventured into the land of unemployment. If you are part of the latter, then your search for a new role in the competitive COVID-19 job market may require a change of strategy. Here are some tips to help you stand out from the crowd:

Build a target list 

Before you apply for any positions, it is essential that you build a target list of organizations that are linked to your industry experience or able to utilize your transferable skillset. Hiring managers and recruiters in the current market are inundated with hundreds of applications for each vacancy, meaning that relevance is key. Spend time on Linkedin, online and via the news channels to establish a plan of action so that you know exactly “who” to approach and do not just apply to job adverts. Companies may be hiring without advertising or may indeed have future hiring plans that you may be suitable for. It is all about you being pro-active with your search and not reactive. Once you have a target, you can set yourself measurable goals such as emailing 10 hiring managers per day, connecting with 20 industry contacts per day or even calling five companies per day. This will ensure that you are mentally on track with your search and will stop you from just going through the motions. 

Tip: Search each company’s website and sign up for their job alerts to ensure you know when new vacancies become live

Your CV is who you areUnless you are relatively new to the working world or a graduate, ignore the common misconception that “Your CV should be no longer than two pages”. This of course does not mean that your CV should be equal length to a dissertation, it means that your experience is valued and future employers want to see this. 

Examine the job descriptions of every vacancy that you apply to and include the experience that you have gained during your career. The advertised job description may be in bullet-point form or a text body, either way you should highlight the duties and responsibilities that you have experience of that are also listed on the job specification. All duties/experiences relevant should be put in bold to show the hiring manager how many transferable skills you hold for the role. 

Include reasons for leaving, achievements and a testimonial for each position. Give quantitative examples of budget savings, process improvement, targets and results or how you have even set records. From the hundreds of candidates that I have met during my recruitment career, I am still yet to find one candidate that has included all of their achievements. Take the time to write these down. If you are in an industry where most duties are the same, your CV will look similar to other applicants. Be different. 

Tip: Reference the times where you have gone above and beyond in your position as this what employers will want to know during the interview process.

Read: Professionals in the GCC are changing careers just to keep a job, thanks to COVID-19

Make yourself known by networking

Spending time connecting with industry professionals, hiring managers and recruiters both on Linkedin and at networking events will build your network and reputation within the market. By doing this you will get to hear about recent movements and plans for new hires. If you have hired in the past, you will know that the first port of call to find a new employee would be to ask for referrals or think who is in your immediate network. It saves time, money and the unknown risk of hiring someone externally. 

Industry qualification seminars, training events or networking meetings are a great way to build up your network as well as your knowledge of current market trends, news and working methods. Applying to roles over the internet is one thing, however the best opportunities are typically on the back of the quote “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. 

Tip: Post or share one piece of industry insight content on social media per day to increase your engagement and following.

Prepare for your interview or prepare for rejection

“We would like to invite you for an interview.” Now it’s time to shine and secure your new role. You may be the perfect candidate for the position and organization, however your interview technique could be the deciding factor. Spend time researching the business, its financials, recent news, reports and employees. This does not only give you more information on what life could be like working for the business, it also shows the interviewer how determined and interested you are to join. Do not try to remember everything, write down your notes and research. This not only helps you refer to things and use as a talking point, it’s an instant sign that you mean business and have come prepared for the meeting. Include commercial questions about the market and role and make a note of the interviewer’s background to build up conversation and ultimately a relationship. If you suffer from nerves, the feeling of being more prepared will make you feel more comfortable with your ability to answer questions. 

Tip: Search the company name on local news websites to give you the latest news stories. 

Mindset and personality 

Even with the best CV, credentials and experience put together, the best way that you can stand out from the crowd is by being yourself, as employers ultimately hire based on their company culture and whether your personality is best suited for them. So make sure that you are yourself when speaking to future managers and recruiters. Passion, work ethic and for eagerness for development is what every employer is looking for, but is also rarely on a job description. It can be daunting looking for a new role so be dedicated, open and persist with the search for the next step in your career. There is light at the end of the tunnel, so take the time to improve yourself during the journey. 

Read: UAE’s job market, job seekers and future of work