Job hunting from home: Digital networking, virtual interviewing and more

Andrew Bayliss our consultant managing the role
Posting date: 06 May 2020
In 2019, the Office for National Statistics reported that of the 32.6 million-strong UK workforce only 1.7 million employees were working from home. Despite this low proportion of one in 20 people, predictions were made that half the global workforce would be working from home by 2020 - and astonishingly, this now happens to be the case. The outbreak of coronavirus this year has undeniably shifted the recruitment landscape and altered with it the job hunting process.

Digital networking and virtual interviewing were both elements of the hiring process in the 2010s but this new decade will see their popularity boom as more job seekers begin their search from home. As the social interaction between executive recruiters and candidates is redefined, we expect to see greater importance placed on the development of a personal brand and the ability to articulate key success stories engagingly.

Career development must be proactive in order to be efficient. While executive recruiters will build their personal talent pool and draw on specialised research methods to recruit for senior-level roles, candidates must be ready to engage. Read on to find out the best practices when job hunting from home.

The why and how of digital networking

Social networking is built into our genes – we will always desire to make connections with the people around us. Making contacts in your industry benefits not only your professional growth but personal growth too. On the face of it though, how we network has transformed and a large part of this is down to the introduction of digital technologies. Before the internet, social connections were limited by geography. Now that barrier has been lifted people can interact on a global scale.

The four steps of digital networking

1. Carefully curate your digital presence. Since its inception in 2002, LinkedIn has become the holy grail of digital networking, yet the skills section on personal profiles are often underutilised. According to Business Insider, creativity, persuasion and collaboration are the most sought-after skills in 2020 and users who show these on their LinkedIn profile will enhance their job prospects.

2. Reach out to existing contacts. Digital networking is just as much about nurturing your network as growing it. Ask those you’re already connected to endorse your skills on LinkedIn and other industry networking sites and find out if you can help them.

3. Make connections. To ensure that you’re consistent with your digital networking efforts dedicate the first or last 20 minutes or your day to making connections. Create a personalised message which explains who you are and why you want to connect with the person.

4. Contribute to thought leadership articles either by writing one yourself or engaging with those written by others in your field. This will help raise your profile to executive recruiters  and expose you to job opportunities that you would otherwise not find.

Prepare for virtual interviewing

Virtual interviewing only came onto the scene in the last 10 years but as recruiters and candidates transition to working from home, adoption of the technology will become more widespread. Since video interviews restrict social interactions it’s essential to know how to make an impact virtually.

Candidates should prepare for a virtual interview in the same way they would for an in-person meeting – plan their 30-second elevator pitch, formulate answers and research the company’s financial status. Alongside this, candidates must test their technology to check that their audio and

video are high-quality. It’s advisable to find a room that has a strong internet connection and good lighting and to consider using a professional background for the virtual interview.

Define your personal brand

As with a company’s brand, a personal brand communicates what differentiates a candidate from competitors in the market. When accurately defined, a personal brand will both help a job seeker stand out and allow recruiters to understand whether the candidate’s values align with the company’s.

Every person already has a personal brand, it’s just a matter of defining it. Beginning by contacting their network, candidates can verify how they personally add value and what distinguishes them from other job seekers. Next, a personal brand statement should be generated to showcase the candidate’s unique value proposition. This concise testimonial will reinforce the skills listed on your CV and form the foundation for your elevator pitch.

Update your career documents

By having a revised and relevant version of your CV ready to go in the post-coronavirus job market, you’ll have a competitive advantage in securing new roles.

The essential keywords to include in a CV

Career documents must include industry-relevant and job-specific keywords. When screening for senior-level roles, recruiters and hiring managers will be searching for evidence of cross-functional team leadership, risk management and process improvement among other key phrases. Additionally, quantifying these core abilities will drive home the point. For example, “Reduced department spending by 12%” provides evidence that the candidate is focused on process improvement and the statement makes a bigger impact.

It’s a concern in many industries that artificial intelligence (AI) and robots will replace workers and PwC identify that 30% of jobs are at risk of automation by mid-2030s. Though these tend to be in low-skilled, monotonous jobs, by focusing on skills in uniquely human areas candidates can future-proof their career. Emotional intelligence, critical thinking and improvisation are examples of skills needed to succeed in the digital revolution and are therefore essential skills to include in a CV. Alongside these, candidates could demonstrate their ability to harness the power of AI – how they can work with the technology and not against - as well as getting to grips with other technologies that industries are increasingly using to streamline efficiencies.

The lockdown has seen many workforces around the world become technology-first, with two-thirds of UK employees relying on tech to stay connected, and we don’t anticipate this reliance on digital solutions to ease even in a post-pandemic environment. Become comfortable and confident with video conferencing, cloud-based storage, enhanced cyber security and anything else your industry is turning to in this crisis, and you may well have an advantage in securing future roles.

Look for new ways to add value

As well as enhancing your CV, lockdown is an ideal time to update any career-specific certifications and accreditations you hold – or would like to achieve. Many professionals in our networks are now taking the opportunity to upskill and add value to their professional profiles, Open up new markets by learning a second language (the Chinese fintech market is booming) or prepare for the increasingly digitalised future by learning how to code. Understand the in-demand expertise within your market and align your skillset accordingly to be more employable in the post-pandemic future.
Plan your key success stories
When applying for senior-level jobs, candidates must tap into their storytelling skills to articulate their achievements. Standford University researcher, Jennifer Aaker, discovered that when information is delivered as a story it is remembered 22 times more than when presented as facts.

Brands understand that to sell their product or service they must use storytelling to captivate the consumer’s attention, and it’s no different when selling your personal brand. Success stories must be well planned if they are to make an impact on hiring managers.

Let Hanover help you navigate your career journey

Executing your next career step should be a carefully considered process. Take this time at home to upgrade your digital network, prepare for virtual interviews and reach out to executive search consultants. Our executive recruitment consultants are experts in their field and use their specialised knowledge to understand both the client and the candidates’ needs. 

Contact us to start a conversation or view more of our market insights.

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