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How to look for a job in 2023

Career coach and self-development specialist Elena Bogdanova explained to Anywhere Club how the labor market changed in 2022, how to stand out from other candidates when looking for a job in 2023, and how to find a coach if the answers to your existential career questions are do not reveal themselves to you.

Elena Bogdanova, career coach

Features of the labor market today

— For the past few years, maybe even a decade, the job search funnel was an established, systematic, approach to job hunting. It focused on the number of vacancies on the market, the number of your contacts to employers, the number of interviews you were offered, and the total number of job offers that you received. The thinking, generally, was that the key to success in finding a job lay in obtaining the maximum number of employer responses to your outreach. I actively used this method and took a large number of interviews. There were periods when I would complete 26 interviews in two weeks.

A lot has changed. In 2022, the number of vacancies sharply decreased. Therefore, you can't simply “play the numbers” and submit a large number of applications expecting that this will result in a corresponding number of offers. The focus has shifted to job search efficiency.

Large companies are reducing and optimizing staff. Accordingly, recruitment is not planned for the near future. Indicative of this reduced expectation for recruitment on the part of large employers is the reduction in recruiting staff. Why is this significant? Finding a cool recruiter, especially in IT, is quite difficult. Therefore, recruiters are generally retained even when hiring conditions decline. The fact that employers are now parting ways with their recruiters, and in large numbers, says that there are no plans for active recruitment in the next year or two. Previously, recruiters were looking for large numbers of candidates and wrote to them with an offer just to get acquainted. Now, it won't be like that. So, the situation is frightening, but certainly not hopeless.

Who will find it easier to find a job in 2023?

— Now, the market is very favorable to the middles. Middle and middle+ level specialists learn quickly and then can perform senior tasks, but they are much cheaper. Juniors are facing the most significant challenges. But if a junior has the determination and is ready to study, then they will get into the company. Even in the current conditions, the company still has a development plan. They understand that in six months or a year they will need a strong middle. It will be more profitable to grow a motivated junior to the middle.

Another trend in recent years is the advantage held by candidates with well-developed soft skills. If a person falls a little short of certain hard skills, they can be brought up to speed fairly quickly. It is much harder to make a good employee out of someone who is lacking in soft skills. Previously, there was the opposite situation in IT. The severe shortage of skilled specialists meant that an absence of soft skills was tolerated, even if not ideal. That isn’t true now. Considering the number of specialists on the market, preference will be given to someone who is slightly weaker in hard skills, but more developed as a person. Soft skills have never hurt anyone, and taking the time to improve them in this market really enhances your opportunity to develop.

Where to look for a job

— Most of my clients are from Belarus and Russia. In the near future, however, the market in these countries is not where IT will develop successfully. Now, those who want to enter IT, need to learn English well and consider the possibility of relocation. Those who can afford to do so should perhaps even immediately relocate, and then look for a job. This is not the easiest option, since it requires a large financial safety cushion, especially if you are trying to move with your family. But it is a more promising option now.

Another option is to search for internships. These may be unpaid internships in companies that will give you the opportunity to do paid work later. You can also consider the possibility of working on commercial projects in a new country remotely. Having a commercial project in your portfolio makes it easier to enter an internship or an internal project in a company outside of your current country.

These days, the main tool for job searching is the great and mighty LinkedIn. But I also recommend finding companies and writing to them directly, even if they don't have a published vacancy. Before a vacancy is published, there may already be discussion within the company that a certain specialist is needed. If, at that moment, a relevant resume arrives, they may well invite the candidate for an interview. And if the candidate is suitable, the company will not waste resources searching for another person.

Pick a position that works for you

How to look for a job

— I have a kind of algorithm that clients and I follow when looking for a job. It consists of the following steps:

  1. Unpack expertise. What does this mean? We evaluate the person’s experience, knowledge, all their skills, all the training they have undergone, and everything they can do. We dig deep, down to the smallest details. Anything we identify could potentially be important to an employer. We focus on what you can do that is cool, what you are an expert in, what achievements you have, why exactly you are suitable for the role. Just being an interesting person won't work anymore. Instead, we need to specifically show everything in numbers; we need proof. Say, for example, that I was engaged in process optimization. Optimization for the sake of optimization is not needed by anyone. So, what benefit does it confer? We need to present it like this: thanks to my optimization of processes, the adaptation period of employees in the company has been reduced by 15%. This is a cool achievement, objectively supported by data. In addition to attracting employers, understanding your expertise at a granular level of detail forms an internal support and foundation for you. Later, going to Google for an interview, it gives you the confidence to say: yes, I can do it. This inner support makes it possible to really move forward in your career.
  2. Prepare a competent resume. If we are focusing on a specific position that a person is applying for, we need to reflect in the resume everything that is generally needed for that position. This will be a template. But the template is tailored for each specific vacancy. You look at what they want from you and evaluate what you can do. You need to focus on what you can do perfectly. There is a psychological aspect here: if you say “I don't know how to do ‘x’,” then they will remember what you don't know how to do. But if you say instead “I know how to do ‘y’ and ‘z’,” then they will look for evidence of these skills in your resume. When you focus on your strengths from the beginning in your presentation, then questions will be asked about your strengths.
  3. Choose your target employers. When there are strong skills and a clear resume, we begin to identify where this work may be needed. Which companies seem most likely to be interested: an outsourcing or a product company, large giants or small organizations, firms with established business processes or a startup. Each of these companies has its own characteristics. You need to understand what you are ready for and what you are not, and identify the best company for yourself.

— We must not forget about correctly positioning ourselves. Now, there is a lot of talk about a personal brand, especially among those who develop social networks. But honing your personal brand works everywhere. For example, the HR world is very narrow, and many people know each other there, so it will always be useful for someone to polish their reputation.

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