Career in times of pandemic

The past decade has been a time of very dynamic changes on the labor market in Poland. The crisis gave way to rapid economic growth and a tipping scale with the so-called the employer's market towards the employee's market. This process triggered a series of changes in the approach to recruitment processes and their course. The outbreak of the pandemic and its consequences took another turn and became the triggers of rapid change. Firms adapted to the new conditions at different rates and with varying degrees of success. There has been a crisis in many industries - not only financial, but also a crisis of confidence. In others, business is even better. Nevertheless, workers were more cautious about changing jobs, and students faced problems finding internships as some companies suspended their summer programs in 2020. 

It seems that at the moment new standards of operation have been developed, some stabilization has appeared, but in some sectors (e.g. production) there are still many restrictions that make it difficult to return to the earlier functioning in the area of, for example, employing and implementing apprentices or interns. 

When analyzing the process of effective preparation for entering the labor market, it is worth paying attention to the dynamic increase in the importance of technology in recruitment processes, additionally strengthened by the consequences of the pandemic.

Effective CV  

In the first phase - before responding to the advertisement - it is worth paying attention to the fact that our CV can pass both through the hands of the recruiter and through the filters set in the ATS (Applicant Tracking System).

This fact does not change substantially common tips regarding the creation of this document, however, it is even more important to emphasize your strengths in the context of a given offer in your CV, introduce keywords, e.g. names of tools known to us, competences. 

If we are applying for a job remotely, it is worth including in the CV information about the experience of working in a dispersed project team - of course, if we have gained such experience in the course of studies, activity in a student organization, or in previous work. This means that we probably know how to handle some collaboration tools while working remotely (eg MS Teams, ZOOM, Google Meet, Trello, Planner, Nozbe, Miro, Mural, Marvel, etc.). Let's not forget to list the office suite programs that we use efficiently.

The advantage of a candidate for remote work will certainly be the ability to deal with technical problems (joining an online meeting may be the first sample of work), creativity, independence and commitment to the tasks carried out. These are extremely important elements, because apart from specific skills, the attitude to work in general is important. 

Preparation for an on-line interview

While the first form of direct contact with a candidate for an internship or job is often telephone contact, the second stage, which was a face-to-face interview at the employer's or recruitment agency's premises, may take the form of an on-line interview. This is another point where some employers turn to new technological solutions. Instead of talking to the recruiter, a conversation with the bot may wait for us or we may be asked to record a video of your answers to recruitment questions using special IT systems. In this situation, it is worth practicing the answers to the most common asked questions, record them and ask trusted people for feedback. You can also make an appointment for a simulation of an interview with an advisor from the WUT Career Office. 

Regardless of whether we are waiting for an interview with the recruiter or a recording, it is worth taking care of a few technical details that will help us present ourselves professionally and allow us to feel a bit more confident: 

  • it is suggested to talk using a computer (the phone will not always work well),
  • internet connection quality; it is good to have a prepared smartphone with the possibility of Internet sharing in stock in case of failure  
  • quiet environment (no voices nearby, no roommates coming in, notifications on the computer and phone disabled) 
  • favorable lighting, 
  • it is worth taking care of the staff - a nice, harmonious background that will not distract interlocutors,
  • good sound quality (e.g. headphones with a microphone if we have a weak built-in microphone), 
  • image stability - if we cannot use a computer and we use the phone, it is worth placing it on a tripod.

An invariably important element of your preparations will be keeping your appearance neat. The outfit does not have to be as elegant as during an interview at the company's headquarters, but it will be good if we emphasize that this situation is important to us and we take our candidacy seriously. It is also an important element in building your image as a professional - of course, standards are slightly different in each industry.

Likewise, it will be invariably important to take care of the non-verbal aspect of communication. Turning the gaze towards the interlocutor, adequate position, conscious use of the voice. 

The first live meeting with the employer 

All standard rules related to building a good first impression are valid here, such as an adequate, neat outfit and hairstyle, positive attitude, punctuality and good substantive preparation for the interview. In a special way, it is worth considering your own motivation to undertake specific cooperation, to realize what I value a given company for - why I am applying for it.

During the pandemic, there were also additional label elements related to the way of saying hello, proper wearing of the mask (clean; it may be the color of the shirt / blouse). In case of doubt, it is worth asking the recruiter directly what rules he proposes in this matter. 

Possible threats resulting from remote work

Remote or hybrid work has its advantages, but it also creates circumstances that carry certain risks.

Overwork. It turns out that in many cases people working remotely work more. The danger is that the time of work and private life merge very much. Therefore, an important element is to separate work from the private sphere, both symbolically and in our behavior.  

  • First of all, it is worth designating a space to work. In the long run, working in a place where you used to rest, such as a couch or bed, can negatively affect you. Such a symbolic separation of this zone later gives us the feeling of "leaving work". 
  • Secondly, it is good to prepare for it before starting work: wash, dress, eat breakfast. There is nothing more demobilizing than realizing at e.g. 2 p.m. that you are still in pajamas and your hair is not brushed 😉
  • After finishing work, it is worth getting involved in activities that do not require further sitting in front of the computer. Change the form of activity. Let your eyes rest, move, talk to someone "live".

Overload with videoconferencesthe influence of which is not indifferent to our brain. For example, a total novelty is the fact that during on-line meetings we see ourselves - we have not experienced it so far. This can affect our level of mindfulness, empathy, and the way we build relationships. They are conducted in this topic researchworth reading.  

Another pool of threats concerns team relationships, motivation, and physical and mental health. Susceptibility to these threats may depend on our predispositions, personality traits and the level of psychological need not being satisfied (e.g. feeling lonely). 

It is worth reflecting on this area. Consider what a specific job gives me, what values ​​does it fit in, does it allow me to pursue my mission, my goals? It can also be helpful to name the emotions that arise during the day - it is about turning off the autopilot and checking what is happening to me here and now. Why am I reacting the way I do? Are there any needs that call for attention? 

If this area raises concerns, it is worth meeting, for example, with a coach from the Career Office or a university psychotherapist, in order to prevent the escalation of negative phenomena and the consolidation of non-constructive patterns of behavior. 

Act consciously and develop your career

Poznanie potencjalnych zagrożeń jest o tyle ważne, że wiedza na ich temat pozwala na skuteczniejsze niwelowanie ich skutków. Nie warto demonizować ani rekrutacji on-line, ani pracy zdalnej i odkładać wejścia na rynek pracy na czas „po pandemii”. Jest to po prostu kolejne wyzwanie, jakie stawia przed współczesnym człowiekiem szybko zmieniająca się rzeczywistość. Podsumowując wcześniejsze akapity, warto pamiętać o stworzeniu sobie ergonomicznej przestrzeni do nauki, pracy i wypoczynku, o opracowaniu planu dnia, który zapewni nam optymalny poziom różnorodności podejmowanych aktywności, aby nie dopuścić do przeciążeń psychofizycznych. Szczególnie istotny jest czas na sen, ruch, relaks oraz zdrowe odżywianie, a także dbałość o budujące relacje międzyludzkie. Wspierający może być udział w treningach uważności, budowania odporności psychicznej, czy organizacji czasu, a przede wszystkim pozytywna autonarracja i świadome dbanie o dobry nastrój i „ładowanie akumulatorów”. 

Authors:

Agnieszka Skowrońska - psychologist, coach, facilitator, career development advisor / Career Office PW

Aneta Dreksler - coach, trainer, entrepreneur, career development advisor / WUT Career Office