Spoiler alert……Yes, it is!
It was never going to be easy to change job during a pandemic! But, before you read no further, let me explain what I have learned in changing job during the lockdown. If you are changing role, hiring, or just considering what is next then I hope that some of my experience below will help you.
The job search
I was fortunate in that I knew the challenge I was looking for and via my network had a few organisations that I was hoping would consider hiring me. Regardless of your position and the search you undertake you should still write down what you are looking for, not just financial, but the type of challenge, the culture, location, hours, size, etc, etc. Do not be too picky; rank what you would like by importance, a compromise is inevitable. Be aware that during the current pandemic and resulting economic situation, that the job market is different. Different in many ways, not all of them negative; for a start, the acceptance of home working or part time hours is much higher than usual.
Yep, technology comes in here. There are a million blogs on how to use Teams, Zoom, WebEx etc (a nice little brochure from Microsoft on Teams interviewing can be found here) but the one thing that really stands out for me as an interviewee is “less is best.” What I mean here is that interviewing to a large panel of video interviewers is not as effective (for all sides) as a smaller panel. Seeing the “whites of the eyes” and addressing individual points, hearing questions, etc is much harder when more than about 4 attendees, regardless of the size of screen, quality of camera’s, etc.
I therefore recommend breaking the interview into multiple stages, with short comfort breaks between, and different interviewers covering different areas in each stage. You can of course do this over multiple days, morning/afternoon, etc; whatever works best for everyone and the timeline. You do require one consistent interviewer throughout to act as main contact/coordinator; this does not have to be HR. In fact, I would recommend it was the hiring manager as building a relationship with a candidate, assessing the ‘softer cultural elements’, etc are very important.
Technology to do the job
Here’s where things start to get a bit tougher. Getting hold of the physical assets – laptop, phone, etc, etc. Luckily IJYI is a local small business so collecting such tech from a socially distant position was relatively easy but presents a different logistical challenge for large or geographically dispersed organisations.
Cloud technology (O365) makes access to the usual core productivity suite a doddle once you have username, password, MS Authenticator, etc. Gaining initial access to those credentials must be done ‘old school’ over the phone or a similar ‘out of band’ approach.
Many other required systems may require separate credentials, setup or even not be accessible from outside of the corporate WAN (VPN required). These may be organisation specific/bespoke systems or simply external software tools for payroll, expenses, CRM, etc.
Fortunately, IJYI is a relatively young, born in the cloud, technology company so such tools and systems are all externally hosted and mostly integrated via AzureAD.
Everyone is different. No surprise there. Not everyone has embraced video conferencing in the same way, not everyone likes to show their pets, children, plants, cuddly toys, pictures, etc. Integrating into an organisation with a strong team culture and social interaction as an ‘outsider’ on the end of a webcam is strange. There are no easy fixes, no short cuts; just like building any relationship it takes time and multiple interactions. You cannot force it or schedule it, but you can make it part of the weekly routine to take the time to discuss non-work things, find out about people, etc. At IJYI we already have a daily lunchtime huddle (short call, no work chat allowed) and a Friday end of day beer o’clock call. These all help, but with some of the team furloughed, I’m very aware there is more work to do.
For existing customers, this is ironically, probably easier than colleagues. The relationships with customers are almost as important as those with colleagues, especially in a sales role, but building those relationships is a bit more structured around project calls, quarterly business reviews, roadmap workshops, inception workshops, etc, etc.
Relationship building with prospective customers is not so straightforward. If a very formal procurement framework then “arm’s length” is quite normal, but for a small business so much of our work comes through word of mouth, local events, partnerships, demonstrating our mastery, etc that not being able to physically meet is quite a barrier. However, it can be overcome, we have recently signed and delivered for one brand new customer, it just takes a bit more planning and for both sides to work slightly differently.
Is it crazy then?
At the top I gave the spoiler that I thought it was crazy to change job during a global pandemic. As I have written this article, I find myself reversing that opinion; it is not ideal but not necessarily crazy. Would I recommend it? No. But, if you were going to be changing jobs, looking for a new challenge anyway, then do not put it off just because of the pandemic and lock down. Even with the lock down starting to ease in many countries, the new normal for recruitment and working will change forever.
5 or so years ago, the ability for technology to enable all this would not have been there, certainly not with such rapid adoption. Now we have embraced it we owe it to ourselves to go a bit crazy!
If you want to learn more around how cloud technology can enable your business, then please get in touch.