How to adapt and network after Covid-19

Jungle Gym in colour

Careers these days are like jungle gyms, declared Seek NZ Customer Success Manager Gemma Richardson in her presentation to AUT students at Employability Matters in late May.

So be nimble like kids on playgrounds - scramble about, adapt to find your way through the obstacles and you’ll be surprised how far you can go on your career journey.

Not sure what this all means? Here are suggestions from Gemma and other Employability Matters presenters about adapting and networking as you move into an employment market much changed by Covid-19.

Adapt, adapt, adapt

The employment market has changed because of Covid19, says Seek NZ Customer Success Manager Gemma Richardson. “Now at Level 1 we are seeing some positive shifts in the market yet, competition for jobs will be tougher, so be sure to give yourself the best opportunity to stand out in a crowded market.”

So that means not sitting on your hands. Adapt and build up as many skills and experience as you can, she says. “And don’t turn your back on short term contract roles – they give you experience and may well lead to a great full time job in the future.”

In the current disrupted labour market, Auckland Council graduate programmes leader Lacey Knight suggests you should start your job search by thinking about the organisation you’d like to work for, rather than the position.Make things happen note

“Think of the organisations that could give you great opportunities further down the line. Remember everything is a learning experience, so if a job comes up that isn’t exactly what you wanted, make the most of it,” says Lacey, who finished her degree at the end of the GFC and felt very lost.

“I found an opportunity through networks, thought it was a time filler, but opportunities snowballed from it. And sometimes you will have to take a couple of sideways steps to continue to move towards the role you really want.”

It is important to start somewhere and understand that you are not going to immediately be at the top of the ladder but that everything you do builds your skills, says leadership speaker Labour Pasifika Caucus Communications Advisor Thomas Wynne.

Thomas wanted to be in politics from a young age, joining the Labour Youth Movement as a teenager. But it didn’t happen overnight. It took many years in jobs ranging from working in a flour mill, to working as a community youth worker in New Zealand and the Cook Islands, before Thomas became media advisor to the Cook Island government - a role that led to his current position.

“The things we dream and desire can be a lot further away than we expect but we need to hold onto those things,” says Labour Pasifika Caucus Communications Advisor Thomas Wynne.

Don’t put a timeline on your role or career journey, advises EY campus recruitment senior consultant Hannah Booth.

“You may miss out on other great opportunities. We have people who start in one area of business and wind their way into a different service line altogether. It’s important to recognise that you might change over time, and that is okay.”

It’s going to be a challenging time over the next few months, acknowledges Nanogirl Labs co founder Joe Davis.

“But the rule book for business has been thrown out the window so there is an opportunity to redefine and redesign structures and relationships that were really entrenched before. Adapt and there might be an opportunity for you.”

Network, network, network

The more you connect with people, the more opportunities will open up so think about who you are connected with, says Gemma.

“Network, Connect. Put out the feelers that you are looking for work, find promoters, seek out mentors, speak to recruiters, build your professional network to get the inside information on where the jobs are coming up."

Who do you know within your industry? Are you following specific blogs for industry? Where are events being held for your industry? Who should you be talking to? Who is hiring?," asks SEEK NZ Customer Success Manager Gemma Richardson

Get involved with things and look for opportunities to hang out with different people, advises Joe.

“One of the things I’ve learned is that you can reach higher than you think. You may feel at the start of your journey you can’t contact so-and-so, but you can. Then respect and honour those connections along the way. Nothing opens doors like a personal introduction. Networks pay off long term - you never know when.”

Phone readyAnd use the phone, adds Joe, describing it as a piece of under utilised and powerful technology. “You can talk to people and things happen without having to wait for a reply. Two staff we recently employed picked up the phone and called us as well as sending their CV!”

Hannah says don’t forget LinkedIn when networking – LinkedIn is an important place to network and showcase yourself.

“Update your LinkedIn profile, link to people you think might be good connections, join groups on LinkedIn.”

Not sure how to get started?

AUT Employability and Careers runs workshops throughout the week on networking, personal brands, LinkedIn profiles, job search etc.

There are also regular presentations from employers.

Sign up through elabonline. Not used Elabonline before? It's easy. Click on the link, provide your student ID and password and you're in.

Images - Thanks to Theodore CS Brown Sr(jungle gym top image), Gerd Altman (bulletin board) and of Pixabay and Jeshoots.com (phone) from Pexels.