Navigating your career was tricky enough before COVID-19 – now, it is on another level!
Below are some pointers to help you COVID-proof your career, whether you are active, passive or available in the current challenging market.
Many of these principles apply to any market conditions, so please don’t start using these processes only when you are in crisis mode. Finding a job these days is very different to what it was ten years ago, and it can be a stressful process. More social media options have emerged, and the numbers of job boards and recruitment agencies available have both increased. Where do you start?
These tips are in order of priority and represent the current job market as Tier 1 Procurement (T1P) sees it.
LinkedIn is realistically the most powerful tool currently available for companies to effectively shop online for talent, without the need for large recruitment campaigns.
We believe it represents about 50% of the current job market. However, please don’t include job ads in this weighting, as this 50% is purely HR or Recruitment people shopping around on LinkedIn for candidates and choosing to effectively “swipe left or right.” Talent can be pigeonholed into a sophisticated Project Talent Pool or Pipeline (as some people label it) for future roles, or contacted immediately for open roles. This is done through is a premium subscription-based tool called LinkedIn Recruiter. The searches are conducted based on key words, so make sure your profile includes all the relevant buzzwords necessary to be captured in a search.
It is more important than ever to invest almost as much time on your profile as you would on your CV. The content should be a bit less detailed than a CV, but certainly include enough information to demonstrate your competency and achievements. You need to stand out from the crowd, but avoid being too quirky.
This also includes having a professional profile photo. Avoid using wedding photos or selfies, and especially sunglasses. If your photo requires an update, a good contact is Chris Prott.
Is it okay not to have a photo? No, it’s not okay. In a typical process about four stakeholders from a hiring organisation will review your LinkedIn profile and CV, so it is imperative to include a photo to avoid being marked down. There is often debate in the market on whether people should not include a photo, to reduce the risk of being stereotyped based on their cultural background or looks. If you are concerned about this, it is worthwhile seeking assistance from photography professionals as they can provide you with a presentable profile photo. We also believe that if an employer is not going to employ someone based on looks, then they may not be the right employer for you.
We often get asked by mature candidates if they should include a photo and education history in their LinkedIn profile. The answer is a definite “YES!” Some people tell us they are worried they will be ruled out by ageist employers. Our response is simple: do you want to work for an ageist employer? Clearly not. Value yourself and be proud of your experience, and the right employer will come knocking. This will save you a lot of time and trouble attending wasted interviews where the hiring manager is looking for someone more junior.
Another tip is don’t omit work history. If you only have five years’ worth of history listed in your LinkedIn profile, you will not be picked up in a search by companies looking people with for ten years or more of experience.
In addition, the more people or potential hiring managers you connect with via LinkedIn, the greater chance you have of securing the top jobs. You don’t need to connect with anyone but don’t be too careful, as there may be a useful second-degree connection waiting to hire someone like you.
If you are concerned with receiving too many emails or updates, set up rules in your email inbox. You can set rules that will automatically file any spam you receive and when you have time, you can scroll through this folder to find what you want.
Referrals represent about 20% of the job market for fairly well networked professionals.
By far the best way to source jobs is through your own direct networks. Being a known entity can be particularly effective if you want a career change or are seeking to advance your prospects ahead of other applicants.
In our experience, and particularly over the last few years as LinkedIn has effectively lifted the networking potential, it is not enough to simply be the best candidate. If the best candidate is also connected to the hiring manager in some way, they have a 90% chance of securing the job.
I can give you an example of this for a leadership role that T1P recently placed. Three out of the five shortlisted candidates knew the client directly or indirectly through friends, and one of these was successful. But this meant that even though the other two candidates also were highly qualified and knew the client, they were still unsuccessful. The market is more competitive than it has ever been.
For procurement professionals, conferences and training through PASA, CIPS or Comprara can be very useful networking forums. We also encourage people to look out for speaking opportunities, as some generalist candidate search firms will use conference speaker lists to source candidates.
Agencies represent about 15% of the job market these days, which is lower than in the past mainly due to the influence of LinkedIn.
It is important not to solely focus on agencies. In the past, it was very much the case that you would register with a few agencies and then a flurry of job opportunities would come flying into your inbox. These days, this is far from the case. There is a place for agencies as they will sometimes identify excellent roles, but don’t rely heavily on this source.
More roles are now recruited directly or through LinkedIn searches. In our experience, the clients looking for the best talent do not subscribe to volume agencies. Their preference is to hire directly or work with a specialist they can trust, and where there is not a timeframe KPI in place, just a focus on finding a high-quality candidate.
When choosing an agency, interview the recruiter, compare their CV with others, and decide if you are confident that they know what they’re talking about. Ask yourself if you would use this person to recruit your own team or provide you with career advice – if the answer is yes, they are usually the right one.
Job boards represent about 15% of the job market these days and are a useful source of opportunities. Seek and LinkedIn are solid options for procurement roles, however in recent years these forums have dropped in popularity. I’m not sure exactly why this is, but clients we talk to suggest it is not easy to source good candidates from advertised roles.
Whilst advertising is not a key component of T1P’s process, we still think there is some value in it. For example, advertising can be beneficial for employers that are transforming their company brand, or it can help them source a single good candidate that may have been missed from a more targeted process.
Stay tuned for Part 2: Getting Your CV Right.