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Getting Through Job Hunt in Pandemic

Updated on August 4, 2020

When I started writing this there were almost 150 rejection mails in my inbox from last 3 months & around 30 + unanswered mails which I wrote to various hiring managers & recruiters; around 100+ messages on LinkedIn in my network which are unanswered till now. Not quite the start… but 50+ LinkedIn Responses & Leads, 500 new connections & there are new friendships with peers, recruiters & interviewers and most important the journey is still going.

Let’s begin why is that statistics and how this can be relevant to you. This all begin with a phone call on Sunday & Mother’s Day. It was from my supervisor & human resources that I am not having the job, we are downsizing….blah… blah …..blah and I was like walking dead for 2-3 days. I have never heard or seen in my friend circle or relatives that someone has lost his/her job, so literally I had no idea how to deal with it. I cannot go outside & meet friends or peers because it’s pandemic & I ended up seating at home & keep on thinking what to do, what the hell just happened????

I was feeling more broken down because I chose this organisation over a start-up for stability, ironic isn’t it? Oh human !! this is the toughest time. But as time passed I realized this is just a bad phase of life and it shall pass at its own pace; so I have to keep walking.

If you have lost your job or business in this Covid pandemic, then you will understand what I am talking about. I would like to share my experience of job hunting, interviews & reconnecting to the corporate world. I will not share any top 10 interview questions or how to answer them, neither about interview etiquettes. Those you can easily find on Youtube, LinkedIn or many other apps.

1) Track it like Google do for Ads: I did this in a spreadsheet. I checked my entire mailbox of last 8 years & went through all the mails, check all communications on job portals, noted down what went great & what was the trouble, their contact details, where are they now (you can easily find out through LinkedIn) Then I did bucket whether I should talk or not. And then finally call all those humans and connect with them.

Another tracker I created for all the opportunities I have applied & what was the result, who was interviewer, areas of improvement, what is the cooling time in organisation for applying again in case of rejection.

2) Approach as many humans as possible: Yes, you can’t miss a chance when it’s that bad out there, however, share your details & resume cautiously. I shared my resume with many persons & somehow I started getting so many spam calls & mails, I had to change my contact details. This may also block your chances of getting in touch with recruiters as they may be occupied and might not try one more time. You may also feel frustrated talking to unknown numbers because of spams. (DND is another option you can opt for it)

3) You must get feedback from the interviewer: Yeah, this is one of the must. Because you cannot afford to repeat the mistake in times like now. However, you have to be very careful and assess the organisation’s culture and interviewer’s mindset as well.

I ask once as last questions to the interviewer – “Is there any suggestion for me based on our discussion or CV?” or “Could you please suggest any areas of improvement” or “Is there any particular thing I should work on or emphasis more in the interview.” Trust me with this one question I have done a lot of improvements which even an interview coach could not help me. For e.g. You have done a very great project in past, you got rewarded, but why that was very important for the employer & this could be your best selling point as well. And in excitement, you have explained it to the interviewer but the other human is not able to connect the dots.

I learn this through direct feedback from the interviewer that how to talk about these long & time taking points. (because you will have only 30 or 60 minutes) You can request the interviewer that this might take a bit longer and will he/she be okay. And they will be more eager to know about this. Bingo you got an empty slate to explain the Situation, why it was so Important for your organisation, how you have Solved it & what was the Impact. (SISI)

4) Always put extracurricular/Hobbies: Human brain can focus on one thing for 45 minutes in normal situations and then the brain will focus on other things. In an interview of 60 minutes even before starting it, the interviewer will look at your resume & applications at least 15 minutes before the interview, so by 30 minutes, the interviewer will start losing the interest. So if you have written in the resume, the interviewer may ask or you can fit in with any of the answers.

I will share my experience. In one of the successful interview, I got 3 consecutive blanks – meaning I didn’t know the response so I said – I have read it but I am not recalling it. When I responded 2nd time, I got really nervous & even though the third one was a very simple one but couldn’t respond that positively. God! I knew this is over. Next thing was strengths & weaknesses (And this is usually the last thing interviewer will ask) and I got this one shot to do the turnaround. I was nervous to talk about my work experience & interviewer will also be judgemental after 3 blanks. Then I use one of my hobby (Yoga) to explain my strength that how I approach new things, how I do research & try to go in roots. How I am using workstation stretches to keep up my posture (how I am using my learning in daily life) ..And boom I was back in the game and interview went for 40 more minutes.

5) The Mercy card: This is a very tricky one. If you have lost the job, then this will definitely come up in interview and interviewer will feel sorry for you & you might end up not having a clear discussion or interviewer might want to offer you some other position. This will depend on your judgement & your long term plans. I am not saying to avoid it but keep this discussion to minimum.

This could be a genuine ask or could be intentional to judge you for your EQ. But you have to be confident & keep you head up.

6) Few tips to keep you walking in the tough time:

- Use your energy very carefully. If you are depressed then do small things such as playing the game on phone, take a walk or bicycle ride, participate in Yoga class, talk to your friend.

- The Why Me questions- this was the worst for me. More than a month, daily 4-5 times this question used to anchor into my brain & made everything stopped for me. When this layoff bullet hit I was also suffering from some severe health issues. And I couldn’t take it, I stopped talking to people, and after a couple of sessions with the therapist, I just realised therapist is also of not much help here & all I am left with my room and keep staring at the roof. (it’s pandemic time so can’t go outside). But you will be amazed by how a very small thing helped me.

I was playing snake & ladder with my nephew & he lost to a snake at no. 99 and his response was so ridiculous that it’s not him it’s the dice. And in that moment I realised wow… it’s not me it’s the employer & his mistake. The point I am trying to make here is that get rid of this “Why Me” ASAP whatever it takes.

- Even though I wrote that I won’t be talking about interview strategies etc. One thing I really feel that I should share. Before interview please do practise of your answers, it can be mirror exercise, video recording or with friends. In mine case mirror exercise & video recording wasn’t working so I asked my friends & seniors that was very helpful. If you can then do the mock with 2-3 different kind of personalities it will be very helpful.

- At last, you might be on anti-depressants or any other drug which makes you sleepy or can cause any behavioural changes. (I know, it’s very weird to say this but again it’s pandemic & doctors don’t want to take chance so might have prescribed some medicines like that) So don’t just stop that before the interview. Always always always check with your doctor. It happened with & one of my very important interviews screwed up as I just stopped taking medicine a night before the interview to avoid sleepiness.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

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