At various times throughout your career, you will be going through a job search, whether by choice or unexpectedly.
As we move into the future of work, the job search itself is going through a transformation. In addition, the global pandemic is presenting a distinct set of challenges for job seekers now, as employers adjust hiring needs in response to the economic downturn. However, companies still need talented professionals in challenging times, so jobs are out there.
As a job seeker, you must adapt your strategy to find a job in these times. There are certain elements that will remain essential: an impressive CV, a compelling cover letter and great interview skills. However, others are changing: expected skillsets, required background and experience and employer expectations. On top of this, employers need to know: how can you contribute to business recovery and continuity during this period of disruption?
Here is a guide to help job seekers navigate this new hiring landscape.
Making the job search work for you
Your CV – the first point of contact
Review your CV to make it succinct and ensure that it highlights the right parts of your experience and skills. Use terminology from the job description to describe your relevant experience. Hiring managers of today have even less time for reviewing your CV, so make yours count.
Pro tip: Eugenia Ng, Associate Director, Finance at Michael Page Singapore advises, “CVs that stand out have a good, concise structure. Hiring managers hardly have time to plough through a long CV, so key highlights and career achievements should be well captured in the first section of the CV, and repetitive job scopes should be summarised into one section.”
Your Cover Letter – selling your skills and experience
Being unique and direct are keys to getting noticed. Avoid simply repeating information in your CV and use the chance to elaborate on experience. The cover letter can also include reasons why you want to work for that company, your motivation, and explanations for any ambiguous parts of your CV.
Pro tip: Personalise the cover letter for each job you apply to, let your personality come through. Use it as your chance to sell your skills and expertise to the hiring manager. Think of the cover letter as your sales pitch for why you’re the best candidate for the job.
Think of the cover letter as your sales pitch for why you’re the best candidate for the job.
Preparation is key, whether your interview is in person or virtual. Prepare your answers on common interview questions, and think about job-specific questions they may ask. If you’re interviewing for a technical role, be prepared for a test or problem-solving assignment as a way of proving that you know your stuff. Additionally, research the company to give context to your responses.
Pro tip: “Do not give textbook answers, as hiring managers these days are looking for the right culture fit with 80% of the key skills. Always highlight your achievements and how you have demonstrated good learning agility instead of sharing your experience monotonously,” Ng says.
Skillsets: what you need and how to showcase them as part of your personal brand
The required skillsets of the future are varied, but one common skill across the board is agility – the ability to adapt to ever-changing circumstances and situations. Additionally, companies are increasingly hiring for the potential they see in professionals to grow within the company.
Ken Chan, Director at Page Personnel Hong Kong explains, “Organic, internal growth is becoming a key part of HR strategy in many companies, so high-quality entry to mid-level candidates are in high demand in the market. Be proactive and participate in company projects that enrich your profile and anything related to digital, project management and crisis management will be useful.”
Here are four more skillsets to focus on in the job search of the future:
1. Digital skills
It’s no longer a bonus to know how to use technology, it’s an essential part of doing your job. Research the technology skills that are relevant to your career, and seek out training in these programs. Even better, obtain certifications that show your level of expertise. Most companies offer certifications for their own software – for example, Microsoft has various certification programs for the Office Suite.
Within the job search, digital skills are important as companies are increasingly using AI and automation to save time. From writing AI friendly CVs to taking online skills tests, professionals must have a fundamental understanding and comfort level in digital skills to navigate the process.
As roles expand and become more multi-faceted, a relationship management skillset means you are able to communicate your ideas, influence others and liaise with different teams.
2. Strong relationship management skills
This broad skillset refers to being able to effectively manage various relationships within the organisation and out. This includes stakeholder management, the ability to work in a cross functional teams and effective communication skills. As roles expand and become more multi-faceted, this skillset means you are able to communicate your ideas, influence others and liaise with different teams.
3. Critical thinking
How well are you able to think outside of the box when coming up with solutions? The idea of innovative thinking isn’t just for leaders – every professional should learn how to:
- think up new ideas,
- know their long-term implications, and
- understand how to apply those innovations to their processes and responsibilities.
4. Customer-centric thinking
There is a strong shift happening in which companies are focusing on what value they bring to their customers. Develop the skills to approach every issue or problem from the perspective of the “customer” (Read: the customer can be an internal stakeholder if you don’t deal directly with external customers), anticipate their needs and come up with solutions to meet those needs. In many jobs, User Experience (UX), business acumen and an understanding of the user journey are key.
Think of these skillsets as the foundation to building up your personal brand. That is, above your technical qualifications, what is your unique professional story. Developing this personal brand through social media activity, networking and external interactions is often overlooked, but a strong personal brand will give you the competitive advantage in a job search.
It’s not easy out there right now for those looking for a job, but this does not mean that your value or ability to choose, negotiate and improve circumstances for yourself are diminished.
The future job search landscape: an empowered candidate
It’s not easy out there right now for those looking for a job, but this does not mean that your value or ability to choose, negotiate and improve circumstances for yourself are diminished. Candidates are still empowered to look beyond simple remuneration and include factors such as company values, vision and ethos into your job search process.
As Anthony Thompson, Regional Managing Director of PageGroup Asia says, “In times of a recession when many people are looking for a job, it’s simply not true that companies can expect to hire amazing talent at discount rates. As soon as the hiring market picks up again, the war for talent will be back on and the best professionals can continue to command commensurate salaries and have their choice of companies.”
Surviving the job search of the future
In many ways, the future of searching for a job is already here. Professionals looking for their next opportunity should believe in their abilities, learn how to negotiate the salary they deserve, and work towards landing the job of their dreams – or at least their next great opportunity along the way.
Quick tips for your job search
01 Consider how you can contribute to business continuity and recovery in the roles you are applying for
02 Highlight key career achievements in the first section of your CV
03Use your cover letter to sell your skills and expertise
04Avoid giving textbook answers during your interview