It’s safe to say this year went very differently than anyone might have planned. Almost immediately, the new year ushered in uncertainty that has halted many of our personal and professional plans and upended industries and workplaces. From my recent conversations with candidates, the uncertainty of this year has left them—understandably—hesitant about looking for their next role.
Despite the headlines in the news about layoffs and economic uncertainty, though, many companies are still actively hiring. In fact, Lucas Group recently conducted a survey interviewing high-level finance and HR leaders across the country, and found that 73% of companies are hiring. And of the 62% of businesses that have been negatively impacted by this, 32% of them are still hiring for critical roles.
By all accounts, there are still plenty of opportunities to be found. So what’s holding job seekers back? I’ve observed some fears among reluctant job seekers that I want to put to rest.
Getting past fears of change or instability
Many job seekers are steering clear of making a move because they fear the future financial health of a new employer. They consider themselves “safer” in their current role, and I’m constantly fielding questions from potential candidates about whether a company has had layoffs in the last six months or what their financial forecast is. But it’s unrealistic to expect that you could find an employer who isn’t being impacted in some way by COVID-19. And even layoffs don’t necessarily translate to financial instability. One unit of the business could be underperforming—underperforming team members are also more at risk now, too—but that doesn’t mean the entire business is in jeopardy.
The fact of the matter is every company—the one you’re with and the one you’re considering—is being impacted in some way. So I would caution candidates against over-indexing based on comfort in their current roles just because they have a stable job. The risk of economic impact is possible in your current role or in a future company.
Similarly, I talk to many job seekers who fear signing up for more change right now. This is understandable. Fear of change has always been a deterrent to switching jobs, but it’s even more heightened now. We’ve all been through a fair amount of change already this year. And starting a new job can be stressful. But without diminishing either of these realities, if you’re in a role that doesn’t make you happy, it’s worth the risk to find something new.
One of my favorite reads this year has been Jenny Blake’s Pivot: The Only Move that Matters is Your Next One. It’s incredibly topical for the time we’re in, and in it she says, “What you can plan is too small for you to live.” To put it another way: If you put aside the fear and uncertainty of this year, what decision would you make? What move would you have made last year if you could have? That opportunity might still be out there, so don’t let fear hold you back.
Making your next move
Feeling fearless yet? If you decide to take the leap, do it thoughtfully. This will help you overcome any lingering doubts and give you the best shot at landing in the right role. Start by considering what you need—not just to mitigate your fears but to thrive. What are the three most important things you value when assessing your current situation and a future one? Put some criteria together and be strategic about what opportunities you go after.
Flexible hours, leadership styles, a manager who is empathetic to working parents, communication boundaries, culture, and remote work arrangements are all things that have zipped to the top of a lot of folks’ lists this year. Think about what top three things make the list for you and weigh your opportunities accordingly. But don’t set an irrationally high expectation for the next move. You’ll end up over analyzing.
And while you’re jumpstarting your future, find an Executive Recruiter to help you through the process. Many of the available opportunities are flying under the radar through private searches right now—not necessarily in online job postings—so getting connected with someone who has inside information will speed up your search. Oh, and that list you’ve made? If you share it with an Executive Recruiter, they can help weed through some of the opportunities that don’t meet your criteria for you. They’re also going to be in the know on culture, turnover and maybe even the details behind any recent furloughs.
What to expect from the hiring process right now
As you move into the hiring process, know that it’s probably going to look a little different than it did the last time you interviewed. Companies that are hiring are hyper-focused on not making a bad hire right now. They’re taking the process very seriously and looking closely. So even though most candidates are being vetted through a virtual hiring environment, which may make the process shorter, hiring managers are being more thorough. You may meet with more team members and leaders than usual.
Use this to your benefit, especially if you’re feeling uneasy about making a move. You’ll likely have the opportunity to get a more complete picture of the team’s culture and the company’s values. You’ll also get more chances to ask questions. Take advantage of these moments and listen carefully for the things you identified as being in your criteria.
And if, through all of this, you find something that is more exciting or gets you out of the rut you’re in, consider the opportunity without fear of an uncertain market. There’s no guarantee the uncertainty we’re experiencing right now will end any time soon, so it would be a shame to let it control how or when you make your next career move. As Jenny Blake says, “You can learn to enjoy calculated risk and uncertainty in exchange for adventure, flexibility, freedom and opportunity.” Your next opportunity’s waiting for you if you can grab it.