When the going gets tough, the tough get going....
...or life produces positive business and recruitment experiences, when it really matters.
Yes, it happened and it will happen again from time to time.
In between, we need to find our own way of dealing with the unprofessional HR/recruitment processes running.
I can share 2 stories that will hopefully help you through your job search roller coaster, if that's the case where you are at now.
Both stories happened in the last few weeks, but let's take a few steps back for a correct framing and perspective (I promise, we will get there).
In the last few years, I was inundated with news from peers and acquaintances about layoffs, restructuring and job losses. It intensified in the last 6 months.
The bad news and complaints never seemed to ease up, not even a bit, almost regardless of industry or function, even in supply chains.
I started thinking that no amount of goodwill, good attitude and smart job searching techniques can help against:
Senseless recruitment cycles
Inhuman HR/hiring manager attitudes
Absolutely unreal, idiotic job descriptions completely out of touch with reality
Unsupervised and totally wrong ATS inputs
Excessive RPA use which cannot process synonyms in CVs
etc-etc…the list doesn't end here
Consequently many of those with extensive, solid expertise and broader experience backgrounds instead of very specialized roles, were struggling to play the system and get job interviews.
So, all I could say to everyone in my network is to:
become pros in networking and
build a professional brand.
Because in a world where companies consider every employee as a number only and strive to eliminate every FTE possible, that's your only bet.
The other thing I can say in such times is that people need to find niche areas, where they fit and can pivot from there (almost the same mantra as people give to newbie entrepreneurs, who would have thought?!).
Why are these two critical?
If you have a brand, you are your own master, not a puppet in a company's maze, therefore you make an instant impression on anyone who is hiring (you stand out)
If you network outside of your company, there will be people you can call on if you need to change jobs (even if they cannot give you a job, they can connect you further and will know of open roles)
Now, back to the positive examples I promised:
The first story is about a friend of mine, a versatile and seasoned business process perfecting pro (among many other professional skills), she is well versed in both the system and the business process areas.
She was let go from her previous role and was looking for something tangible and professionally enjoyable since the last 2-3 months.
Needless to say, she got advice about her CV from left, right and centre (from AI tips to benevolent professionals to recruiters…you name it, she had it, even if she didn't ask for it).
But none of these worked.
At the same time she was constantly, diligently working on her own professional brand (online and offline), while applying for positions.
At one point, getting a bit frustrated with the situation, she wrote a LinkedIn blog post about her CV and job search related experience and the pointless nature of all the advice she got, while clearly articulating that she was looking for a role and what she was looking for.
An internal recruiter from a larger organisation saw her post and realised she is the person they were looking for, for one of the open roles they had, and contacted her immediately via LinkedIn. This was on a Friday.
They agreed to have an interview on the following Monday and it became clear that she had the job. She was that good, after all!
During the salary negotiations, she was offered ~20% lower than what she would normally ask for based on the strict corporate salary bands the company had, BUT the HR representative agreed to give that salary to her at 80% of the total workload (essentially bumping her salary up 20%) and they allowed her to keep building her brand to compensate for the financial gap (as they could not offer the full money she is worth). All these on a fully remote critical role!
Good professional & personal brand consistently developed led to a role that she is excited to start working in
The company HR department and the lady who was actually walking the HR talk is so rare I haven't seen this for long years (e.g. keeping an eye open outside of the company for talented profiles, hello!!)
Both sides evaluated the opportunity and did their best to find a common ground to create that win-win situation
Folks, this is what good employer branding and good professional branding looks like!
Give yourself a chance with the development of your own professional brand to help you find your next role, whatever it may be!
The second story is mine and well worthy of sharing in this space.
As you may know by now, I'm active on LinkedIn as a professional and contribute, network, help and share as much as I can for the benefit of others around me and hoping that some of this will land back on my plate in return in some shape or form.
There was a post coming through my network, where I didn't know the original poster, but the topic resonated with me so I shared my thoughts and experience with him and his audience in a comment.
The person found my comment useful and contacted me directly. It turned out he was a recruiter, but he also worked in the space of connecting solopreneurs (experienced solo professionals in this case) with larger organisations who may need a project to be run, or a seasoned interim resource.
We had a great discussion and he recommended me further.
Guess what, with that 3rd person I met, we are developing how we will collaborate together as we speak.
Professional branding + networking (and I'm not even consistent or diligent on my branding at this point! I need to up my game…)
Other professionals doing the same on LinkedIn, who are equally focused and result oriented as you are (you will find each other)
Resulting in valuable collaborations and good professional work that you are looking for, well beyond this it results in a long-term valuable network that will be there for you, if you take care of it
I know that I'm a solopreneur, but it works if you are looking for employment as well. Especially if you start looking for a new role after long years with one company.
The job market will not get any better, no matter what you are doing (unless you are a super specialist in a super niche area)
Professional branding (fair and truthful) will be there to support when you need to move on from a role (even if it is on your terms, not being let go)
The network outside of your current employer will be also there to support and spare you the standard ways of rather painful job applications
Note on professional / personal branding:
It doesn't have to be loud, audacious or outrageous etc…it doesn't have to be anything you don't like.
What it has to be is something that is truthfully representing you as a professional.
So go ahead and define that for yourself and it will be a success.