Clearly stating the obvious, but the current labor market is in serious flux. About 30 million people filing for unemployment and those still in jobs wondering how secure their positions are. Job seekers face even more uncertainty. Yet while the words ‘hiring freeze’, ‘pause’, ‘layoffs’ and ‘furlough’ are definitely coming from organizations across every spectrum, we are also seeing a good number of hiring managers stay the course and go forward, particularly for critical hires, such as executive directors and revenue generators.
How can you prepare to be noticed by these intrepid managers? Be part of the solution; don’t add to the problem.
For the organizations who are continuing to meet with candidates (virtually!) and even make the bold step of hiring someone they have only ever met over video, some characteristics among successful job seekers are beginning to emerge. The qualities that are standing out right now among candidates I’m talking to are:
- Candidates who make themselves available, offer multiple times they can connect, and are patient and agreeable to rescheduling if their interview time gets knocked offline by a scheduling conflict show they are able to adapt to change and the shifting needs of an organization—a particularly important quality during a crisis or difficult time.
- Being flexible and adapting to the situation at hand demonstrates that you can work through a difficult time—like a national pandemic—while remaining a team player and not losing your cool.
- Candidates who can deliver materials or anything requested in a short period of time—resume, cover letter, work samples, and references—show that they are prepared and can anticipate what’s coming. Making time to deliver on a surprise request—like an assignment or project—demonstrates that you are willing to do what’s asked of you, even if it’s outside of your comfort level or your expectations, to make something work.
- Video conferencing technology is rapidly becoming as commonplace as the telephone so candidates who want to interview now should be comfortable with it. The strongest candidates will know how to present themselves in the best possible ways on this platform. They will also show that they go beyond just showing up, but can adapt to and even master new challenges.
- Candidates who can show that they are innovative problem solvers are definitely standing out in the crowd. Those who can offer creative solutions for managing their teams, communicating with their constituencies, connecting with their donors or even holding events—virtually—are rising to the top.
- What’s happening in the world right now is unnerving and unprecedented. But while we hope we never have to navigate another national pandemic, every organization will face some difficult situation or even crisis at some point–leadership transitions, loss of a beloved CEO, extreme weather events or market corrections that adversely affect staff. These ‘disasters’ require level-headed and competent management, so any organization hiring now needs to know the person they choose can handle an emergency.
Candidates who show compassion above all else are being noticed. Everyone is affected by this pandemic in one way or another—either directly knowing someone who has been sick or worse, dealing with the stress of the current economic insecurity, or even just living with the existential anxiety that this has wrought on us all. Acknowledging that to everyone you interact with in the process shows that you have the capacity to look beyond your own needs to those of others.
Written by Terri Rutter, Lindauer Senior Consultant.
Originally published April 14, 2020 on LinkedIn and updated August 28, 2020.