With 2020 firmly behind us and 2021 showing some promising signs of a normalcy, you can finally start getting back on track with your career goals. But many of the workplace changes we’ve seen over approximately the last year are likely to stick around for quite a while, with some even possibly becoming permanent.
If you are looking to pursue a promotion or career change this year, then you’ll need to sell yourself effectively. Whether it’s in your resume, job applications, or interviews, selling is a vital skill for getting ahead.
And while many of the fundamentals of selling yourself in the job market will remain the same forever, the events of last year combined with the continued progression in the ways we work, mean that 2021 will require a fresh approach.
The first step toward making any sale is identifying the needs of your target market, and in job-seeking terms that means finding out what employers want. In 2019 this was much simpler, but the events of 2020 have dramatically changed the employment landscape. Unfortunately for many of us, this means the jobs we were eyeing up in 2019 simply aren’t going to be around for a while. However, don’t let this discourage you and fall into the belief there are no opportunities out there.
It’s true that whole sectors like travel and hospitality have almost completely stopped hiring (at least in the short term), other areas like online shopping and videoconferencing are seeing big surges in demand.
So, scour the business news and job boards to find out which sectors are hiring and then focus your job search toward them. If your industry or profession is currently in temporary decline, identify growth sectors where your skills and experience could provide value. For example if you have a travel marketing background, you may struggle to find a role in the travel industry right now—but growth sectors such as online-fitness platforms and cybersecurity will be crying out for good marketers.
REPURPOSE YOUR RESUME
Your old resume is targeted toward your old or current industry, which means it’s unlikely to appeal to the new employers you are targeting. To combat this issue, reposition your resume to ensure that you are solely appealing to your new target market.
Research your new fields of choice thoroughly and find out exactly what skills and experience they are looking for, then tailor your resume accordingly, highlighting your transferable skills and cutting down on content that is specific for your current industry. As the founder of a business which offers resume-writing advice, I cannot stress the importance of specializing your qualifications to a new role.
Moreover, you may find that taking a relevant short course or even a voluntary role is a great selling point to highlight at the top of your resume.
PREPARE FOR YOUR REMOTE INTERVIEW
Nationwide lockdowns and travel restrictions have advanced remote technology in the job application process. Video interviews have become the “new normal” and while they are currently done out of necessity, employers are likely to keep them in place long after restrictions are lifted. Video interviews are more convenient for candidates, removing the need for travel and reducing the amount of time they need to take out of work or other commitments. And for employers they save hiring managers time and allow them to interview a greater number of candidates from a broader range of geographic locations.
So, if you want to improve your professional advancement in 2021, you need to be prepared for the new remote job interview processes that most companies are adapting. There are many similarities between video interviews and face-to-face meetings, but video meetings require some unique preparations.
Firstly, you need to ensure that you have a sufficient technology setup for video meetings—you’re likely to be doing a lot of them in the near future, so it’s worth investing some time and money. Most laptops come with a high-quality webcam, but often they lack a good microphone which can make it difficult for interviewers to hear you. Even a low-cost external microphone will provide much better audio quality and allow your conversations to flow a lot easier.
Secondly, you must have a reliable internet connection, because if you have to keep cancelling and rearranging due to the video cutting out other candidates will get ahead of you in the process. So, ensure that you set up your interview space in a room with good Wi-Fi and if you struggle to find one, plug your computer into your router with an ethernet cable for a seamless connection.
Lastly, ensure that your background is tidy and clutter-free. Streaming live from a messy room will not reflect well on you as a potential employee.
And don’t forget to approach a video interview with the same respect you would an in-person one. Take time to research the company and role thoroughly, have a copy of your CV on hand and dress smartly. Catch yourself from falling into the trap of thinking that a video interview is somehow less important.
Hopefully, the worst of the pandemic is behind us now, but the job market is likely to be challenging for the rest of the year. If you can identify opportunities and adapt your skillset to meet new areas of demand, you should still be able to progress in 2021.
Andrew Fennell is the founder of CV writing advice website StandOut CV. He is a former recruitment consultant and contributes career advice to various publications, including The Guardian, and The Independent.