Job Searching is a Marathon, Not a Sprint: How to Find a Job During a Crisis
Career coach and self-development specialist Elena Bogdanova evaluates the current situation in the tech job market and offers advice on what to do.
In this article
Tech trends today
— The tech sector is currently undergoing significant changes. We see more reviews of functionality, reevaluations of the business's future path, and the closing of projects that have become less profitable than desired. Fewer startups are launching due to the difficulty of obtaining investment for development.
Companies are restructuring their business processes, leading to a redistribution of tasks and, ultimately, reducing their staff. Another trend is cost reduction through lower salaries.
All of this has impacted the job market. There are significantly fewer available positions for tech specialists than before. At the same time, there are more specialists in the market due to job cuts, company relocations, and the desire to increase income by changing companies.
In the past, if you wanted to increase your income, you typically negotiated with your employer. If they refused to raise your salary to your desired level, you would enter the job market. After 1-2 months, you would receive an offer with a salary 20-30% higher than what you were paid at your previous job.
This was an effective strategy for many middle and senior professionals for a long time. These opportunities, however, no longer exist. What is today's reality?
For experienced and highly qualified professionals, there are significantly fewer job offers, and there are more competitors searching for the same opportunities.
For juniors, entering the profession has become even more challenging: there are now many new graduates who are undergoing training in technology fields because they know there is money in tech.
Due to the high demand for entry into the tech field, the number of educational courses and schools offering them have increased. Consequently, there are now too many junior specialists. Moreover, the level of education in many of these schools is quite low. But the main issue is that there are almost no positions available for junior professionals.
So, the situation is as follows: high competition in the market, few job openings, and salaries are not rising as quickly as desired.
What can be done about this?
Labor market features during the crisis
During a crisis, the way work is organized within a company is revised. Usually, during a crisis, the labor market becomes an employer's market: more people are seeking employment, so employers can choose from a sizeable pool of candidates for an open position.
Just a few years ago, employers used to spend a lot of time finding a suitable candidate and had to offer much higher salaries than they do now.
Now, there are significantly more candidates in the job market, allowing employers to hire strong specialists for lower salaries. So, employers actively benefit from this situation.
Let's consider the main features of the current labor market.
A hiring trend in recent years: 85% of employers prefer a candidate who has well-developed soft skills, and only 15% of companies will choose a specialist based on strong technical skills. In the past, being a good professional was enough, and you could be a somewhat difficult person — companies tolerated toxic employees if they were gurus in their field.
Now, the situation has changed. In addition to considering professional competencies, employers are seriously looking at how candidates can fit into the team, what kind of person they are, and how well they align with the company's values.
This makes sense. When you're choosing between approximately equal candidates in terms of professional competencies and experience, you'd prefer someone who is easier to work and communicate with. So, it's essential to pay attention to how you develop yourself and your personal qualities, how well your emotional intelligence is developed.
Another point: employers are looking for someone passionate about their work, who shows genuine interest in what they do and is enthusiastic about it. In the past, being skilled was enough; today, you also need to love what you do.
Someone truly passionate about their work will seek to develop and will ask, "What else can I do to work on interesting tasks?" This person will be self-motivated to pursue professional growth and improvement, which means they will add value to the company through their professional development.
This positively impacts business efficiency, the goal of which is to generate profits.
If you choose tech solely for the money and have zero interest in it, if you genuinely hate what you do, that's a fast path to burnout and job loss.
If you are not truly interested in a tech career, perhaps it's time to rethink your career path and explore a different direction. Surviving in a highly competitive environment is hard enough for genuinely interested specialists; it will be much harder now.
Job search strategies
To find a job regardless of the market situation, it's important to understand what to focus on.
When it comes to job searching, the concept of a "search funnel" is often used. This consists of components such as:
- The number of job vacancies in the market.
- The number of activities, which is the number of resumes you have actively submitted.
- The number of views and responses to your CV.
- The number of interview invitations.
- The number of follow-up interviews.
- The number of job offers.
The main impact on this funnel during a crisis is the decrease in the number of job vacancies. As a result, more attention should be paid to the quality of your contacts. It's not about the quantity of interviews you have.
The tech industry is not just going through changes; it's starting to deflate like an old balloon: there is optimization happening within companies, a review of their workforce, and, of course, this is reflected in the number of job vacancies. The conditions are not as attractive as they used to be.
It's important to be flexible and demonstrate that you are the candidate who truly fits the company. You should focus on the quality of every interaction. At each stage, your communication should be well-thought-out. Your CV should be truly compelling so that people want to continue the conversation with you. You’ll want to master the art of politeness and friendliness during interviews and phone calls, and maintain ethics in your email correspondence, and so on.
It's important to understand that an HR specialist is your friend and assistant. Their main task is to fill a vacancy quickly and efficiently. They want this as much as you do, so help them see that you are the right fit. Together, you can convey this to the hiring manager.
Approach each stage practically and responsibly. If you can't create a professional CV, prepare for interviews, or develop an effective job search strategy on your own, contact an expert who can help you achieve your desired results more quickly.
The funnel remains a funnel: the outcome depends on the quantity of actions. There are fewer job vacancies, and the competition is higher, but the more actions you take, the higher your chances of success.
How to build your career vector in a labor market with limited demand
A career vector is the direction of the development and the achievement of goals in your professional sphere. It consists of skills, experience, interests, and values.
Usually, a career vector is built quite simply: your career path involves growth within a company that is interested in retaining you, providing development opportunities, raising your salary, and covering training expenses. When the job market is saturated with strong candidates, however, the situation changes, and the ball is in your court — your outcome depends on your activity.
To independently develop your career vector, it's important to answer a few questions:
1. What skills do I currently possess?
2. What competencies do I need to achieve my career goal? What do I want in the future, and what do I need to accomplish it?
3. What skills am I lacking? Where is point A (where I am right now), and point B (where I want to be)?
4. What paths are available for acquiring the necessary competencies? This could be working on specific tasks, changing companies to expand your skill set, and so on — the paths can be diverse. After analyzing all possible options, you need to choose your optimal path.
5. Where and how do I move forward? You need to develop a step-by-step action plan.
How to demonstrate that you are the right candidate
To generate interest, it's important to show at every stage of interaction that you are the right candidate for the position.
This can be demonstrated through the following:
- Relevant experience: Show that you have real experience in solving the challenges that the company is facing.
- Convey your career goals and interests from the perspective of the company's benefit: Why are your ambition and desire beneficial to the company?
- Showcase achievements: What have you already accomplished for the business through your experience, knowledge, and competencies?
- Soft skills: What qualities make you the person who can make a difference?
By addressing these components, you can make a strong case for yourself as the ideal candidate.
How to prepare for job searching in uncertain times
To ensure that your job search is productive and effective, it's important to build a solid job search strategy.
To do this, answer four important questions:
1. What do I want and by when? Set a clear goal for yourself and specify the timeframe in which you want to achieve it.
2. What resources do I need? Create a list of what you need to learn, research, or obtain assistance with for your job search preparation.
3. What am I lacking right now? Analyze the list of resources you've compiled and identify what is currently missing and where you can obtain it.
4. What actions will lead to results? Develop an action plan.
And, of course, the essential step after all of this is to act.
Job searching is a marathon, not a sprint. It often takes a considerable amount of time, especially in today's challenging job market.
In my years of working with clients, I have seen numerous cases where large global tech giants were downsizing, but my clients were still getting interviews with companies like Google, even in countries where hiring was almost non-existent.
This is a clear example: if you are in the right place, doing what you love, constantly developing, and improving your professional skills, nothing is impossible. You just need to apply a bit more effort, resilience, determination, and, of course, take action.
I wish you success in your job search, and may your career driven by passion become a reality.