LOCKDOWN TO LATCHDOWN
How have candidates across Yorkshire succeeded in finding a new job during lockdown?
In the second of our four articles on how the recruitment market has fared during lockdown, we are looking at how candidates have successfully secured new jobs in this time, sharing some specific experiences and a few messages from our network.
It has been a challenging time for many job seekers, with fewer opportunities and the challenges of remote interviewing & assessments to navigate. Nevertheless, candidates with the right skills and positive attitude have secured offers and have successfully started new employment during lockdown.
Our article on Recruitment During Lockdown gave some examples of the strength of competition for a number of senior finance positions. In the majority of cases, the crisis has increased the pressure on candidates to stand out from the competition by;
- Adapting to the technology of remote interviews
- Building a strong rapport and engagement without face-to-face contact
We worked with Amy Grey to secure her new position as UK Finance Director at Heras (a process that was undertaken entirely during lockdown):
“When starting my search, I expected to it to take a long time and that most roles would be on hold until businesses were in a more stable position. I also thought that there might be a reluctance to remote interviewing and that any offers would have to wait until in-person interviews could take place.
As I am relocating as well as searching for a new role, I had thought that I may have to get back in the country to secure a role. Having that added complication of being half a world away could have hindered my search.
What I actually experienced was the opposite, I think helped by that fact that everyone is working more flexibly right now – the process was incredibly fast. People seem to have very quickly adapted their working practices and technology to allow for remote working and that includes interviewing which actually benefited my search – The fact that I am based in Vancouver did not put me at a disadvantage to the other candidates.
I have lots of practice being on a video call – working for an international company gave me a huge advantage as I already attend a lot of meetings remotely. I was flexible with times, with the platforms used to conduct the interviews, with schedules changing and with last minute interviews. This included two which were organised and conducted on the same day despite the attendees spanning three different time zones.
Just like any other scheduled meeting, I was not afraid to be the one to call at the scheduled time, to initiate contact. I took this as a good opportunity to show my confidence by being the one to start things up.
I was ready for unexpected events and to adapt to the situation. One of my interviews had a terrible connection, I quickly suggested another technology to use instead. Showing adaptability and resilience on the spot is not a bad thing! On another, a child made an appearance on the other side of the call. This can be distracting for the other person, so I tried to make them feel as comfortable as possible.
I was myself and was genuinely interested in the person who was interviewing me. These are strange times and I find that people appreciate human connection right now, especially being in different parts of the world as we all want to know how lockdowns are in other places.
Even though it feels very different to remote interview, I still conducted the same preparation as an in-person interview, remote interviewing may provide a different challenges and opportunities, but I still did everything else that I would have done normally, including presenting myself interview ready.
Six interviews later and from the other side of the world, I secured my new role! Importantly, I feel like I got to know the organisation really well, and probably met more of my future colleagues than I would have done interviewing in person. I think it has really shown the type of organisation that I am going to work for and I am thrilled to be taking up this next, very exciting, challenge in my career.”
We worked with Morgan Oliver to secure her new position as Financial Planning Analyst at CBT Clinics (another process that was undertaken entirely during lockdown);
“Before lockdown started I had been keeping an eye out for new opportunities and was at a point where I felt it was the right time for me to move into a new role. Then when Covid-19 started creating restrictions and it looked like we would eventually go into a full lockdown I assumed that my job search would have to wait until some semblance of normality had resumed, or alternatively there would be a high level of competition due to companies having downsized during this time meaning my chances of success were unlikely. I was surprised and delighted when I was approached about a new position and while nervous about interviewing remotely with the help of video conferencing facilities, it wasn’t too different from a normal face to face interview. While the unusual format did add a little bit to my nerves and made it a bit more difficult to read peoples body language, once I got used to the it I felt it worked really well.
In the week before I started, I had induction calls with each of my team members which helped me connect with everyone in a less formal environment than in meetings. This really helped my transition. We also organise daily catch up with both myself and my boss, as well as with the whole team. This has allowed me to continue to build on the personal connections I made in the inductions. It also helps me understand what different members of the team are doing each day. The other thing I am trying to do to increase my engagement with the wider company is, rather than sending emails back and forth, I will try and have calls with people where appropriate so we can be properly introduced.
In doing this, it has allowed me to establish a group of people I feel familiar and comfortable enough with to go to for help despite not having met face to face. The daily meetings have also meant I have the opportunity to discuss any issues I am facing, whether it is struggles with technology, not understanding process or what certain data means, which has in turn helped my team understand aspects impacting my performance over the past month. The transition into the new role has not been easy and there is still a lot I have to learn, which in an office would be much easier, but establishing these connections and engaging regularly with my team over video call not just in email has made the change easier than it would have been if it didn’t.”
We worked with Lewis Hetherington to secure his new Senior Finance Business Partner role at Bravo Group;
“Having worked with Gillian since the start of my career, she was my first contact to search for a new role just before Covid-19 restrictions were introduced. Gillian quickly set up an initial meeting with one of her long-standing relationships Bravo Group. This role was a great fit for my experience and a company with high growth ambitions.
Part way through the process, lockdown was introduced and final stage interviews were over the phone. Phone interviews are naturally more challenging to build rapport but as they have become the norm during lockdown, preparation and knowledge of the business is key.
As lockdown was in force when I received an offer, my main question as a candidate was around the impact Covid-19 would have on the employer. Gillian quickly arranged a call with the employer and a very open conversation provided reassurance of the great company I was joining.”
Our third article will be published on Monday 8th June – looking at how candidates have experienced starting a new job during lockdown. Please follow our LinkedIn or Twitter pages to make sure you receive updates