Everyone has career goals. Most people evaluate those a few times a year, potentially thinking about making a change to a new role within their current company or making a change to a new company. But, the world has been in a pandemic, and what we thought was a 1-3 month delay has turned into a year delay. So what about our careers? How do we effectively plan and continue moving forward?
Being a life sciences recruiter, I have conversations with people daily, and I can tell you the world hasn’t stopped. Companies are still hiring and moving forward, and although many people didn’t want to think about their career early on, they didn’t want to “rock the boat”, at this point most people realize they cannot stand still forever. With no true end in sight and without knowing what changes are permanent, people are now in a position to navigate their career through the murky pandemic waters, which is a daunting prospect.
So, here are a few helpful tips to get started.
- Do your research. Whether you are just starting to think about making a change, or are in a position to actively look, research is your best way to know what is out there, and what will be most beneficial to you. Research companies of interest; see who is actively hiring now and who may be hiring in future (due to change to company structure or added innovation). Find out what is driving companies and how their focus can align with yours. This type of research keeps you up to date with newest advancements and changes, and helps you have market knowledge in your industry.
- Make sure your information is up to date. Your personal brand is made up of your social media footprint (such as your LinkedIn profile), and your resume. Make sure both are up to date. For your LinkedIn profile, you can add keywords in your summary that will bring you to the attention of recruiters and companies. Have details about what you have done listed on LinkedIn, not just a brief job title. For your resume, consider having your resume professionally done. They can add polish and finishing touches that may not have occurred to you and can capitalize on words and descriptions to bring the resume to the attention of hiring managers.
- Touch base with former colleagues, word of mouth is a valuable tool, they may have knowledge and contacts to help you in your search, as well as insight that can help you in your planning. On LinkedIn, connect with people from companies of interest. Click on articles and posts that correspond to your industry and market. Don’t be too shy to comment on posts- especially from companies that you’re considering applying with. For other social media sites, make sure to clean up your act, or make your social media private.
- Prepare for interviews. Let’s face it, no one likes to go through an interview, most people have a lot of anxiety about it. Preparing for upcoming interviews can help reduce that anxiety, the more prepared you feel, the less anxiety you will have. Start with your homework. Research the company. Look up the company online, see what has happened recently, get a general overview and company mission. Look up the hiring manager on LinkedIn, see what you have in common, this helps build a connection. Once you get an interview set, relate your experience to the job description. Be prepared for questions—prepare specific information about what you have done, your expertise and skillset. Be ready for behavioral questions—your strengths AND weaknesses. Build a short list of questions to ask the interviewer as well, that will demonstrate your knowledge for this role as well as your industry knowledge.
- Be realistic. The pandemic has slowed down many things, and the interview process is one of them. Be mindful that the search itself may take longer, and the interview process may take longer. Also be realistic about what types of positions are appropriate. Sometimes a lateral move can be a good way to get into a company that interests you. Don’t get too easily discouraged, slow and steady wins the race!
- Don’t stop searching. Keep looking for what you want, set up notifications with job search sites to let you know when appropriate positions open up, and keep applying for positions. Even if a job goes on hold, keep the faith that eventually it will open again, and you’ll be ready when that happens.
- Check your email and LinkedIn messages. You never know, you could have received a message from a recruiter that you don’t want to miss! Even if the role the recruiter mentions doesn’t seem desirable for you, still make the connection with the recruiter, they could have other opportunities that are interesting for you, either now or in future. They’ll also have valuable industry knowledge. If you have a connection with a recruiter, reach out to them. They can help you focus and connect with companies and may have opportunities you’d not heard about.
The pandemic is an unprecedented challenge, but we as humans are at our best in a challenge. Now can be the best time to focus and evaluate your career priorities and doing so will guarantee success!
Written by Debbie Caldwell- Life Sciences Recruiter