What to Look for when Exploring New Job Opportunities While #WFH During a Global Pandemic

If you’re part of the majority working from home for the foreseeable future, you may be wondering if companies are hiring and whether it’s a good time to explore new opportunities. In terms of industry, most of the information in this article portrays our clientele within the financial services space, but a lot of the takeaways can be applied across other industries. Whether you’re employed or unemployed, I’m hoping my perspective in recruitment can help in your search.

You have free time and interviews are virtual.

If you’re working from home, you may realize you have plenty of free time to speak with new firms without having to tip-toe around leaving the office. This is a good time to take initial calls with recruiters and HR professionals. In addition, most companies have begun holding “virtual onsite interviews,” so you can advance through an interview process without leaving your home.  Lastly, you should update your resume. It’s good to get in the habit of doing this every quarter regardless if you’re looking for a new role or not, just so you won’t forget certain responsibilities or “wins” you’ve had earlier on in your current position.

What about market volatility? Is now really a good time to look?

Generally speaking, March through June is typically a great time to look as companies are out of the holiday/New Year’s funk and focused before summer. But a common question has been regarding market volatility and whether it’s a good idea to leave a stable job during a time of uncertainty.  The unfortunate reality is layoffs are not uncommon during times like this, so it’s important to evaluate where you stand with your firm and keep your options open. If you decide to keep a pulse on the market and see what’s out there, keep in mind you can likely interview from the comfort of your own home.

Which organizations are still hiring? Is there anything I should look for?

Financial Services firms are trying their best to continue business as usual, and that goes for their hiring plans, as well. Targeting publicly traded firms might be a great place to start when searching for organizations as they’ll be more likely to have firm-wide  COVID-19 updates available to the public. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t apply to privately held firms, but make sure you’re aware of any potential layoffs, hiring delays, or any other crucial information that may not be released to stakeholders. Search through recent articles and see if any business (public or private) have expanded or made any large sales/acquisitions, or if they seem to be slowing down.

Global organizations with international locations are a good place to look, as well.  Companies that are accustomed to virtual new hire onboarding, training, and starts will be moving faster in terms of an overall hiring process. Firms that don’t have a history of virtual onboarding may still be active, but there’s more of a chance that your resume will sit in an inbox while we wait for “business as usual” and the market to recover. Firms with multiple domestic locations or remote locations may also have a history of hiring virtually from a main headquarters.

It’s also important to note that firms with previously established business continuity plans (BCP) appear to be the most prepared and will not be delaying or freezing their hiring. These firms are ready to continue hiring and have a plan in place for times like these. Most large firms go a step further and hire business continuity directors and teams solely focused on preparation for global crises and emergencies. The less prepared a firm is the more uncertain their short-term future is—and most likely, they’re not hiring.

Another thing to note when applying is to find out which companies are running background checks, drug screening, and fingerprinting. University and court shutdowns have impacted background processes which lead to delays. Background check organizations may be unable to contact some universities for education verifications and criminal clearance may be delayed in a similar fashion if certain documents are inaccessible. Drug screening and fingerprinting companies have also been closing their facilities and delaying background clearance and start dates. It’s best practice to find out in advance what your targeted firm is doing in regards to these types of checks and screenings to help cater to your job search.

Naturally, this information can all be contradictory one way or another. You may find a global bank that’s continuing to interview but has delayed starts due to fingerprinting. On the other hand, you may find a boutique firm that isn’t drug testing but is requiring an eventual in-person interview before making an offer. Most organizations are making an effort to keep hiring streamlined while making necessary adjustments, but each job you apply for will have a unique process. On that note, it’s very important for candidates to vet the companies they’re interviewing with to see how they’re handling their HR/hiring processes.

Owning the virtual interviewing process.

Most firms are holding interviews virtually for the foreseeable future. Many organizations are holding first, second, and team interviews virtually via FaceTime, Skype, and Zoom, among other video tools. This is a good time to familiarize yourself with these programs and the art of virtual interviewing (i.e. dress code, background setting, absence of disruptions, etc.). We are also seeing that final interviews and offers are being held/given virtually. Once an offer is accepted, be prepared for a virtual “first-day” and onboarding experience, as well. This is certainly an adjustment for candidates and companies alike, but it’s not impossible.

Final Thoughts

Sometimes it’s tough to know what the right decision might be for you and your career. If you’re thinking of exploring new opportunities during a time where we’re all working from home, please consider the following:

  • Update Your Resume. You should be updating your resume every quarter as responsibilities do change. It makes it easier to stay current rather than try to remember what you’ve accomplished over the years.
  • Preparing for the Worst. We’re seeing layoffs across multiple industries. Where do you stand with your current firm and what is your firm’s direction in this time of uncertainty?
  • Physical Freedom. If you have the ability to virtually interview and advance through the process without asking for Paid Time Off or Sick Leave, take advantage. Now’s the time where you don’t need to arrive at work early or late to take care of interviewing.
  • Public Firms. Publicly traded firms have information available on how they’re responding to COVID-19. Find out in advance what private firms are doing.
  • Global Firms. Companies with a history of virtual hiring will be moving/hiring the fastest and most efficiently. This includes firms with an international presence and firms that hire domestically out of an HQ. If a company is hiring and onboarding out of multiple countries from one main hub, virtual interviewing and onboarding is likely routine.
  • Firms with previously established business continuity plans may be more prepared for continuing business as usual during a global pandemic or crisis. See where your target company stands – do they even have time to think about hiring?
  • Virtual Onsite Interviews. The trend of virtual interviewing may continue in the foreseeable future. As crazy as it may sound, it is becoming common to resign virtually, onboard virtually, train virtually, and start a new role virtually.
  • Background/Drug Screen/Fingerprinting. Find out if your target organization has adjusted their process.
  • Taking Matters into Your Own Hands. Candidates need to vet companies they’re interviewing with on how they’re handling hiring/HR processes.
  • Have a Fallback Option: Nobody wants to hear it, but it’s a good time to have a plan in place in the event of a layoff. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

Hopefully this provides some clarity and assistance in this time of uncertainty. Everything above has a certain degree of variability as every organization and employee has their own way of handling the current global crisis. We hope you’re continuing to stay safe, healthy, and optimistic. Best of luck to you!

Sam Edman

Senior Associate Recruiter, Strategic Accounts

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