Career Advice in Times of Crisis, Part II: Be flexible and be smart, use data

During the second session of the “Career Advice in Times of Crisis”, IESE MBA-08 Alumni Jessica Smith (Senior Manager, Global Talent Intelligence, Amazon) shared her views on how to tackle the job search under difficult circumstances such as the one we are facing now. The session was particularly stimulating, Jessica gave the students not only advice but also practical and actionable tips based on how recruiters use LinkedIn to find talents.

If I were to summarize her insights, I would say: “Be flexible and be smart, use data.”

Stay calm was her first advice. It seems obvious but… not easy! Find healthy ways to disconnect and relax. Find joy in simple moments.

Be flexible. You may not get your dream job now, and yes, it can be frustrating and demotivating. Yet it all depends on your mindset. Take it as a learning opportunity. There might be one or two steps before getting where you aim for: going back to your previous job or company or sector, or developing transferable skills, in a less attractive job, to prepare for your “dream job”. Review your priorities and think plan B and plan C.

Use Data. To target and to be targeted efficiently. This will have the side effect to help you focus a bit more. Applying to every single job could be demotivating as you may get many rejections from jobs you never wanted.

Investigate on the economic health of the markets you are targeting. Not every company is doing badly. Beyond the health crisis, we are talking economics: there are winners and losers of COVID-19. Do you know what industries are impacted?

Beat the ATS (Applicant Tracking System), starting with LinkedIn. Be analytical with you own profile. Help the recruiters find you for the job you want. Know how recruiters are searching for candidates and create your LinkedIn profile accordingly. Jessica highlighted mainly two points to pay attention to in your LinkedIn profile:

  • Review your career progression – make sure the way you describe your roles and achievements will serve you right. Imagine which box the recruiter will fit you in after looking at your current profile and tweak it accordingly.
  • Review your skills – what set of skills would you like to use in your next position? It has to be unique in order to stand out amongst other candidates and at the same time be standard enough to appear in the search results. Find the right balance between uniqueness and relevance. Remove anything you do not want to be searched on.

Network, network, network with your entire network. This piece of advice seems to be the common denominator from all our Alumni, so if to this day you were not convinced about it, now is the time to be! Network to put all the odds on your side when you apply to a position. Recruiters face a high amount of application. The best way to have your name on top of the list is to be recommended by someone internally. Once you get an interview, find an IESE alumni you can talk to in the company for tips.

Last piece of advice from Jessica: Accept the offer. Be careful with the FOMO effect… A global recession is the time to say YES. You have nothing to lose but to learn. It’s all going to be fine!

Remember these five steps: Stay calm. Be flexible. Use data. Network. Accept the offer. This situation is not endless… Stay motivated!

Thank you Jessica, for taking the time to share with our MBA students. It was really a great session and I have learned a lot too. I imagine that as a student, feeling that IESE alumni cares about them is motivating and gives hope, it is a great gift you have given here.

And again, thank you to my colleagues Pilar Lasheras and Melissa Afonso who helped make this happen.  Other sessions of the “Career Advice in Times of Crisis” series are coming soon, with more to learn on how to face this difficult situation.

[This article was first posted on Linkedin]


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Manuella Arulnayagam View more

Manuella is a French-born Sri Lankan Tamil, who has been living in various areas of the world before settling in Spain. She had studied engineering but quickly turned to Human Resources where she developed her career. She spent 10 years at L’Oreal, first in France then in China, before joining IESE in 2016. She is now acting as Career Management Associate Director within the CDC, where she focuses on developing career development programs and individual coaching for MBA students, using her strong empathy and emotional intelligence to help them clarify their needs, define their goals and manage to get to the right position.

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