While the overall demand for technologists remains high, some companies are preparing for a possible recession by reprioritizing projects, reallocating budgets and resources, and deciding which roles to hire for. How can you keep your job search going in turbulent times? Here are some ways to keep moving forward.
Identify Mission-Critical Jobs
Conduct market research to determine the strategic projects and roles that are critical to your target industry, advised Mike Manoske, career coach and co-author of “The Job Search Manifesto.”
Manoske recommends a specific type of networking practice he calls “journey outreach.” Here’s how it works: Rather than contacting people to ask about employment opportunities, ask for information. Ask about trends in the industry, funding, where the company is headed, and how your contact got into the field and/or managed to navigate a career-change pivot.
The goal is to spot alignment, as well as better understand where your goals and skills match the company's business, talent and funding priorities, so you can focus more time and effort on pursuing critical needs and positions.
For instance, just because crypto companies are slashing jobs doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities in blockchain, noted Caroline Ceniza-Levine, career coach and founder of DreamCareerClub. An economic crisis does not necessarily spell the end of entire industries or companies, but it does cause them to pivot.
Manoske says that, based on his experience during the pandemic slowdown, about 30 percent of the people you contact will agree to have a conversation—that’s a lot of leads.
Play Offense and Defense
Ceniza-Levine advocates playing “both offense and defense” to keep a job search going. For example, don’t pin your hopes on one or two job opportunities, balance quantity and quality.
It takes a certain amount of volume and activity to maintain momentum during a job search, she says. So if there are particular companies you are interested in working for, apply or send the CIO or director an inquiry and résumé, even if you don’t have research pinpointing the most strategic, mission-critical opportunities. Remember, not all jobs are advertised, and tech executives are struggling to manage talent gaps. If you have something to offer or suggestions, they want to hear from you.
Most experts suggest that submitting two to three job applications per day (or 10 to 15 per week) is the volume you need to keep your pipeline full and maintain momentum. Plus, timing matters. If you apply in the first week after a job is posted, you have a much higher chance of having your résumé reviewed.
On the defensive side, if your company seems to be reshuffling, request an internal transfer to expand your skills, connect with a mentor, take advantage of career development and training opportunities, and review your company’s severance policy in case the worst happens.
Success is not about the market conditions so much as your readiness to launch a search. Get ready to play offense by improving your online presence, updating your social profiles, joining groups, collecting and posting nonproprietary work samples, developing a networking pitch, expanding your network, and so on. It’s easy to hit the ground running if you have all the basic pieces in place.
Manage Time Effectively
If your skills have gotten rusty, or your targeted job postings specify a tech stack that you’re not totally comfortable with, this could be the ideal time to take some online courses or get another certification, especially if you’re getting severance pay.
However, evaluate your financial position and runway. If you’re only getting a 90-day severance, don’t delay your search or take an extended break, since self-management and consistency while conducting a job search is critical, especially when hiring slows.
To keep your job search alive, devote one-third of your time to training and the other two-thirds to job-hunting activities.
Track Your Activity
Using a job search tracker or spreadsheet can help you monitor your progress, respond to requests for interviews, follow-up on a timely basis, and reflect on what is and isn’t working. Figure out how many hours you spend on high-return activities and adjust your strategy and execution.
Set daily and weekly goals and hold yourself accountable, or consider enlisting the help of a job search buddy or mentor. (A job search buddy reviews your applications and activity, keeps you on task, and provides feedback and motivation.)