Insights | Talent

Interviewing In The Time Of COVID-19

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Jessica Bernido

June 30, 2020
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The last month and half has been quite the rollercoaster. Based on the rising number of unemployment claims in the US week over week, it’s fair to say that we don’t know when we’ll be returning to what we’ve deemed as normalcy or even what the future of a workplace looks like. We’re living in VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity) times and aside from reiterating the importance of staying indoors, no one in the entire world has a solidified answer of how we navigate the current climate. Uncertainty and ambiguity aren’t going away any time soon and as millions of American’s activate their search for new employment opportunities it begs the question of what does interviewing in the time of COVID-19 look like?

With a staggering number of folks applying for unemployment benefits and the piling list of companies laying off or furloughing employees, the foreseeable future appears somewhat dire. That being said, it’s reassuring to see that there are still a number of companies actively hiring and folks landing job offers during this period of time. It’s also been humbling to see the world come together with several people alerting their networks about talented colleagues who are now on the market, to universities and ed-tech firms like Codecademy offering free courses/scholarships, to matchmaking and resume/interview prep resources like Candor, Parachute, Happy to Help and IC Alliance firing up overnight. If you’re looking for talent or are seeking a new opportunity, you should definitely check out these resources.

Interviewing In The Time Of COVID-19It’s still too early to tell what the market will look like post COVID-19. From looking at our
job board stats, all signs point to a shift from a candidate driven market to that of an employer driven market with our # of unique users up by +46.7% and the total # of open jobs down by -12.6%. With so many job seekers flooding the market, how do you stand out amongst your peers?

We sat down with talent and sales leaders in tech to collect and share their nuggets of advice on interviewing in the time of COVID-19.

Ron Luongo, Talent Acquisition Manager at Electric

“Seek out a mentor during this time or catch up with a long lost one. This is a great opportunity to learn from people who have been through challenging times before.

Leverage your network. Proactively reach out to people / companies you are interested in and start the dialogue. If teams are slowing on hiring, they won’t come to you. This way you’ll be top of mind for when things pick up.

Sharpen your skills. Take that online class to get certified, learn that new coding language you’ve been putting off, This is a great opportunity to make yourself the best candidate you can be!

Practice makes perfect. If you have some friends who are looking as well, set up a couple of mock interviews with questions you’re unaware of. This will help keep the rust off and your interview reflexes on point.

Prioritize what you are looking for. What do you most care about? Leadership, culture, ability to grow? Know what you want this and expect trade offs because of the current climate.

Lastly, remember these times when you do land your next gig. Things can always be worse and it’s great to appreciate what we all actually have.”

Denise Lam, Director of Talent at Intersection

“With so many companies announcing layoffs and furloughs during COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to differentiate yourself. Your resume is a representation of yourself and your work experience, use this time to revamp your resume. Check for grammar/spelling, build out your accomplishments, and tailor it to the company you’re applying to or the role.

Take this opportunity to build relationships with past colleagues and potential new ones. Reach out to individuals at organizations you are interested in and schedule virtual coffee. Remember, we are all in this together.”

Will Klaynman, Lead Recruiter at Justworks

“My advice isn’t much different to what I’d share on another normal day, except now people have more time to be thoughtful. Use this time to your advantage and organize your thoughts and projects and take the time to really present yourself. Prepare to highlight your strongest accomplishments and how to effectively communicate what your job is and how you collaborate with others. Some of the best conversations I’ve had are with folks in industries that I’ve never had prior experience with. When someone can break down projects that give me the confidence that I can communicate this to another person, then I walk away from that conversation feeling energized about that person. This effectively tells me they’re a good communicator and proficient at what they do.

On that note, if you were to reach out to me right now knowing we’re currently not hiring but want to talk through complex interesting projects, that’s something I’m open to and how you become top of mind once hiring restarts.”

Matt Cameron, CEO at SaaSy Sales Management

“At these times hiring managers are doubling down on resilience and grit – Be sure that your Linkedin profile talks to how much you enjoy a challenge and conquering mountains during a snowstorm. In your resume make sure you highlight times when you were selling into an unproven market, had headwinds etc, and the results you were able to deliver regardless. Anyone could sell in a bull market, so prove that you have been successful when the tide was going out.”

Charlie Keinath, Head of Recruiting at Beeswax

“For anyone who is job searching, the best reality is to play the networking game. Tap and test your network that you have and have been building over the course of your career. Reach out to former colleagues and ask to be referred. With the increased number of people job searching, resumes are going to get buried and the people who will get jobs are going through their network.”

Alexandra Adamson, VP of Partnerships at CloserIQ and Executive Director at WISE

“We’ve watched the talent landscape shift from a candidate-driven market to a company-driven market overnight. In January, the demand for sellers was insatiable but now there are more qualified sellers looking for opportunities than there are open roles. Now, more than ever, candidates need to be differentiating themselves out of the gate– make sure your resume has quality metrics, you come into every interview overly prepared and you always send a thoughtful follow up thank you after an interview. Companies that are hiring are inundated with resumes, so make sure you stand out from the start.”

Bill Leys, Head of Sales at ARTA Shipping and Founder of IC Alliance

Become extremely active on LinkedIn, search and follow subject matter experts for your respective field. They have amassed a following that comments regularly on their posts and is a treasure trove of who’s who that’s hiring.

Connect directly with recruiters at companies that are hiring which you’re interested in working for. Don’t just apply and hope for the best, apply and connect. Let them know you just filled out an application and/or ask if you can send them your resume directly. Be pleasantly persistent in pushing beyond the status quo application process. Anyone who is hiring is getting inundated with applications, you have to stand out.

Lastly, update your resume to ensure it is relevant for today’s climate. Highlight any prior remote work experiences or mention your abilities to work autonomously given your technical aptitude. Mention web conference programs you’ve used in the past, etc. but only do it if you’re above average.

Outside of these keep yourself organized, create a spreadsheet of who you contacted, applied, can still connect with, etc. Don’t miss an opportunity because you didn’t have a checklist and reminders in place for follow up.”

Mike Bothwell, Technical Recruiter at Policygenius

“I want people to feel like they can take a step back and I hope that people can lean on their communities to get peace of mind. The interview process is not easy, is very time consuming and it’s hard to do this when you have other things weighing you down (rent, bills etc.). This is a terrifying moment and we’re all feeling it in our own ways. Lean on your professional community and network. A lot of people are trying to work in one way or the other to help folks who have been impacted by layoffs have access to opportunities. Even if you’ve never been much of a networker, I encourage you to open up to your community during this time.

Policygenius is fortunate to still be hiring and we’ll continue to be hiring throughout the year so check out our careers page.

Lastly, if you just need to move and you have limited space to do so, check out Yoga with Adriene!”

If you liked “Interviewing In The Time Of COVID-19” and want to read more content from the Bowery Capital Team, check out other relevant posts from the Bowery Capital Blog.