How to get a great job in a challenged market

Oct 01, 2020

While it might be difficult to find a new job in the current market, it's not impossible. Niamh Collins outlines five key considerations that will put you in the best position to move on in your career.

The disruption to employment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has been severe. From hiring freezes to the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme to remote working and the tough decision of making redundancies, 2020 has been a year like no other for almost every industry. At the end of July, CSO data showed the COVID-19 adjusted unemployment rate as 16.7% across Ireland – the effects disproportionately spread across younger generations with 41% of 16-25-year-olds out of work compared to 14% for those aged 25-74 years.

The employment market is not universally challenged. Despite the economic pressure and instability, there are organisations that need your knowledge, skills and experience. Whatever your reasons for looking for a new role, there are five key considerations which will put you in a better position to get a great job in a challenged market.

1. Be bold with your networking

Contacts are invaluable. It’s important to stay in touch with as many people as possible – suppliers, customers, old colleagues and clients. Maintaining these relationships will stand you in good stead because the individuals could provide precious information when it comes to job opportunities, offer useful advice or guidance and even act as a reference when necessary. 

Beyond your existing contacts, you can also actively seek out new networking opportunities in your field. Be bold on LinkedIn and connect with plenty of relevant professionals.

2. Be thorough in your research

If you have identified a vacancy or a company that you would like to work for, always be thorough in your research. Read up about the business; the values, what they do, who their clients are, and also find out the names of the managers and as much about their careers as you can. Not only will this allow you to address any communications to a specific individual within a department, but it will help you create a better picture of the organisation as a whole. 

3. Be flexible about your requirements

While you may want the security and stability offered by a permanent job, have you considered pursuing a contract role? The flexibility of hiring a contractor is an attractive prospect for organisations at present.

Also, it could be beneficial to weigh-up your salary expectations, especially if (as with many industries) you are able to work remotely. Regularly working from home will save monthly commuting costs and, therefore, lowering your pay demands accordingly (while being sure not to undersell yourself) could increase your attractiveness to employers and might be the difference between being hired or not. 

4. Be open to partnering with a recruitment agency

Eliciting the assistance of a specialist recruitment agency is a straightforward way to give your job-hunting efforts a boost. It will save you time, give you access to their extensive network of industry contacts, offer a wide range of opportunities that are often not advertised on job search sites and they have the inside line on knowing exactly what hiring organisations are looking for.

5. Be ready to clear your diary and move fast

If you are serious about moving jobs, arguably the most important thing to remember is to be ready to act fast as things can change rapidly. Be prepared to clear gaps in your diary so that you can take calls or attend meetings, virtual or otherwise, at short notice. 

Clearly explain what your requirements are from the outset and have references ready to go. When markets are difficult and hiring organisations may be looking for its new employee to start at a short turnaround, they will want a quick response if you do get offered a job. 

Despite these unusual times, careers are being progressed. Your next role could be a couple of meetings away, but it will require focus, determination and input from you to make it happen.

Niamh Collins is Associate Director of Finance & Accounting at Morgan McKinley.