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What it's like to use for and begin a job in the course of the coronavirus pandemic

During the coronavirus pandemic, online job interviews are the order of the day.

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When IT support analyst Nick Lancaster was fired In April, he felt hurt and shocked by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. "My manager … said in a few words that I was laid off due to Covid-19 and that it was my last day. I should bring all the equipment back to the office," he told CNBC via email.

"I felt I deserved more from my service than just a clinical discharge call. It all happened so quickly," he said. Lancaster had been with his employer for 17 years. But later that day, he went to work to find a new job.

In 2003, the last time he was looking for work, the process was easier. "I saw an ad in the newspaper, wrote to the company, went to an interview, and usually got the job at that first meeting," he said.

Applying during the pandemic turned out to be a tedious task, especially when more candidates were battling for fewer roles.

"Every day I would get up at 5am and read through the automated job postings that had been sent to me. On average, I received four or five job postings. Each job post contained maybe 15 jobs, and usually there were only one or two for them I could apply for the next few hours, I'd be applying for these jobs, "Lancaster explained.

He would submit his résumé and fill out long application forms; He even made a spreadsheet to keep track of every role he applied for.


To increase his chances, Lancaster asked colleagues for feedback on his résumé and revamped his personal website to showcase his skills. “I learned about 'personal branding' and created a branding logo that I can use for all of my correspondence and applications. I even had a BBC freelance presenter record a short promotional video for me that I did on my website and on LinkedIn, "he told CNBC.

Four months and 200 applications later, Lancaster was given a senior IT position at a heavy machinery manufacturer in the American Midwest. And while much of the application process was similar to pre-pandemic, Lancaster has this video interview tip: "Always look at the camera and talk to her. Don't look at the screen. You want to make eye contact with your interviewer, just like in a physical interview. "He added that it's also important to dress appropriately and check what's behind you to make sure it doesn't distract the renter.

Remote interviews mean that getting a feel for the company culture can also be more difficult. However, Mike Hudy, chief science officer at Modern Hire recruiting platform, says it can be helpful to ask relevant questions over a video call.

"Paying attention to how hiring managers answer your questions can give you a deep insight into corporate culture, how it works, what defines success and what it looks like," he told CNBC via email. He also recommends rehearsing the answers before the interview and registering for video calls early to avoid technical disruptions.

Remote roles

Starting a new role remotely can also be a strange experience. When Lisa Roscoe got a managerial job at London-based advertising agency Isobel in February, she had no idea that in a pandemic, she would join the company and work from home for the foreseeable future.

Weeks of lockdown turned into months – employers were able to ask employees to return to work from August 1 in England, but in many companies employees still work from home.

Despite this, Roscoe said she felt part of the company. "Now it feels like I've always worked with these people," she explained.

Video calls with customers weren't a problem for Roscoe, who was used to it before the outbreak. The hardest part was getting to know colleagues. She overcame this by speaking to coworkers and asking if they'd rather communicate via email or phone, for example. "There is no set of rules, introductory documents or onboarding that can give you this information."

Virtual drinks and games, a video comedy evening and regular updates from the agency's founders all helped Roscoe settle in. Your advice to those starting a remote customer contact job? "I would say that you shouldn't worry too much about the business side for your first week. Try to make calls and talk to everyone more on a personal level."

The PR manager Michael Phillips took a job at the London agency Velvet in February. When the pandemic hit the UK in March, he feared the offer could be withdrawn. Fortunately, he didn't and he started his new role in April, working entirely from home due to lockdown restrictions.

"It was certainly a very surreal start to a job," he told CNBC over the phone, adding that the agency had a thorough onboarding process to make him feel welcome.

But aside from the managers interviewing him, a few months later he still hasn't met his employees or clients, which is a challenge in a people business like PR. "You are losing the emotional side of your interpersonal relationships that PR relies on," he said.

Both Phillips and Roscoe talked about not meeting colleagues for the "water cooler moments" they would get in an office situation. "Office serendipity is so important. There's a big hole in remote working … a lot of companies need to find ways to maintain the things that are lost in the experience," Phillips explained.

And as candidates flood the market, job seekers can expect employers to rely more on tech platforms during the application process, explained Modern Hire's Hudy. "Businesses rely heavily on science, such as pre-hiring evaluation, to determine which candidates are best for their jobs Has increased fourfold by more than fourfold. " last year, although some of our customers stopped hiring altogether. "

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