Job search tips for an uncertain market

The pandemic buzz around the Great Resignation is still going strong. Employees always leave their jobs or change jobs in the hope of getting bigger salaries, new responsibilities or better conditions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 528,000 jobs were added in July, robust hiring across all industries.

But recession fears have led some companies — tech companies in particular — to lay off or freeze hiring or lay off workers, sometimes leaving new hires in the business. In a quirky and confusing market like this, you just need a guide to make a working change stick.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

There are about two jobs per job seeker, according to Robin Storey, the founder of Storyline Resumes, a resume consulting firm for executives. And while it’s important to have a dream job in mind, you also need a plan B and possibly C. The more options you have, the better your chances of landing in a place where you are. comfortable, Storey said. Having a range of prospects also gives you more leverage when it comes to negotiating.

“At the end of the day, the best-case scenario is that you receive multiple offers and then negotiate the one that feels best to you,” says Beth Hendler-Grunt, president of Next Great Step, a career counseling firm for recent university graduates and author of The Next Big Step: A Parent’s Guide to Launching Your New Grad into a Career. You may also be able to speed up the decision-making process on the hiring manager’s side if they know you are presenting multiple offers.

Ask the right questions

But speeding up the process means knowing what questions to ask. Both Storey and Grunt suggest asking how your target company plans to handle a possible recession and also digging into their company’s finances. This is in addition to standard interview questions about job expectations, benefits, etc.

If you are presenting several offers, insist on knowing when the companies plan to make offers. In today’s environment, the maintenance process can involve multiple cycles lasting several weeks. Not asking when a company plans to make an offer could cost you your first choice if, say, a company expects the interview-to-offer process to take four weeks and another eight.

Beware of interview homework

If your interview process includes a take-home assessment, be careful about completing something that may take you longer than expected. Storey suggests spending no more than 20 minutes on interview homework, or refusing it outright, especially if the terms aren’t well defined and they aren’t being paid. “There are all sorts of stories about people finishing interviews and not getting hired,” she says. “Now these companies have the valuable intellectual property of some of the brightest minds in the industry for free under the guise of a maintenance exercise,” she adds. If the hiring manager refuses, ask if you can do an abbreviated version of the assignment.

How to handle rejection

After you’ve put yourself through the application process, nothing is more deflating than reading “Unfortunately, we’re leaving with other applicants,” over your email or phone. However, don’t let this overwhelm you to the point of unleashing you. You want to keep the door open for future opportunities – you may not have been the right person for this role, but others may become available. And don’t forget to ask follow-up questions to find out why your application was rejected.

“You’re entitled to a conversation to figure out what was wrong,” Grunt says. For example, it could be a skills issue or something internal like office politics. Or, the salary you were asking for was out of reach. If it’s a business issue unrelated to you, it could be a sign that the company has its own issues, she adds.

This is especially true in the current climate of slowing hiring and rescinded job openings. Starting in May, Twitter, Coinbase, Peloton and other big tech companies announced staff cuts and hiring slowdowns due to lower revenue forecasts.

There’s a disconnect between senior management and human resources, Storey says. At some companies, the top brass, she said, don’t want to disclose that they see an economic downturn coming and are adjusting accordingly. The onus is on recruiters and HR to take up already extended offers, she adds. And don’t hold your breath on compensation if you moved for a job opportunity that is withdrawn. The law hasn’t tended to favor employees in this pickle.

But rescinding an offer doesn’t necessarily mean you should ask to return to your old job after filing your notice. Grunt suggests pausing to remember why you were looking to leave your current position in the first place. And depending on the relationship you had with your former boss, he might be hesitant to rehire you.

“Obviously you didn’t want to be there because something wasn’t making you happy, so I think it’s just hard to go and ask for your job,” Grunt says. There are opportunities out there, she says – so don’t put all your hopes in one basket.

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