The job market is tough at the moment – but it’s also never been so busy! It seems the effects of the ongoing pandemic and lockdowns have really taken hold in 2021, with a lot of people re-evaluating what they want out of their careers and their lives (hellooooo, working from home!)
So with that in mind, we had a chat to Seek’s resident psychologist, Sabina Read, who is at the forefront of the employment battlefield – and comes armed with plenty of advice and wisdom!
Sabina, tell us – what are people’s biggest anxieties and worries when applying for new jobs?
It’s no secret that Covid-19 has transformed the world we live in. It’s become one of the biggest sources of stress and anxiety and this can be amplified for those who find themselves in the job-hunting process.
Shifting through different alert levels and the wide-scale disruption to both businesses and our personal lives at a moment’s notice can be hard enough to deal with. For those looking for their next job, the inability to make concrete plans coupled with the lack of control can create a lot of stress.
Have you noticed any general increase in people’s anxieties in these Covid times?
Absolutely. It is an uncertain time so it’s natural our feelings of anxiety are heightened. Even a year into this pandemic and many are still feeling unsettled. Recent research* revealed that in January this year 33% of Kiwis felt nervous or uncertain about their job security – only one percent lower than in April last year.
The uncertainty has also meant some people who were considering leaving their job and searching for something new have stayed put (17%) because of Covid-19.
What are your biggest tips for people to help them ease their pre-interview anxieties?
There are a few key things that are effective tools to handle your feelings of anxiety ahead of a big interview.
One of the easiest ways to calm your nerves before an interview is to reduce additional external pressures. This might be figuring out how you’re going to get to the interview or planning your interview outfit ahead of time. Taking care of the simple things can go a long way in alleviating additional stress.
On the day of your interview, find something to relieve some of that nervous energy, whether that’s going for a run, meditating or distracting yourself with something calming that you enjoy. This should help you relax and refocus.
What should people do before job interviews in order to prepare?
Feeling organised is a great way to help you calm your nerves and feel more confident going into an interview.
Research the organisation or business ahead of time to help you feel more confident about what they do and what they are looking for. This will change depending on what company or industry you are in, but overall you’ll want to get familiar with the company’s history, culture, mission, achievements and hiring process.
You can also practice common interview questions in advance. At Seek, we have a practice interview builder that helps you understand the types of questions employers tend to ask. Begin practicing them by yourself, taking as much time as you can to prepare your answers. In the days leading up to your big interview, try getting a friend or family member to practice with you and hone your responses.
Don’t forget to familiarise yourself with the role. The easiest way to do this is to read through the job description carefully so you know what is expected. If there’s anything you’re unsure of, you can always ask questions at the end of the interview.
What are some of the soft skills people should look to sell?
The term soft skill can lead people to think they are secondary to technical skills however, these often essential traits are key to any role, and often overlooked by job hunters.
While different industries prioritise different skills, three of the most sought after skills by any employer are:
· Critical thinking
· Problem solving.
Think about how you have applied your key soft skills in your everyday life so you have some solid examples to reference during the interview.
Is there a way to appear confident in an interview without feeling/coming across as arrogant?
It’s not always easy to feel confident in a job interview, especially when for many Kiwis it’s not natural to shine a light on our strengths, however during an interview you need to be your own advocate, because if you don’t clearly share or showcase your offering, the interviewer won’t fill in the unknown gaps, guess or assume your skill-set and expertise. Remember you’ve worked hard to get to this point and this is an opportunity to convey all the things that make you and the role a good fit.
Here are some tips to keep in mind:
1. Give direct answers to show you know your stuff, but be careful not to embellish. It’s not uncommon to ramble when we are nervous, yet concise answers often pack more of a punch.
2. Listen and engage with interest to help build rapport. Be aware of things you and the interviewer have in common to help create moments of authentic connection.
3. Show that you’re a team player by talking about your role as part of a team and, where possible, give examples to back this up.
4. Cut out the jargon in favour of more simple language.
5. Be prepared to ask the right questions. This demonstrates you know your stuff but it takes the focus off you and shows you’re interested in more than just yourself.
A lot of people are either in new industries, or looking at changing industries in the wake of the pandemic. How can people be sure they’re making the right decision in changing careers?
Recent research* discovered that 1 in 4 Kiwis are likely to change jobs in 2021 and interestingly, 62% said that Covid-19 isn’t the reason for their change. More earning potential, better work-life balance or seeking out a less stressful role were the main reasons for candidates searching for something new.
If you are in a situation where you’re considering a change, there are two key barriers most people find when making this decision: Fear of the unknown and existing financial commitments.
If you’re worried about the unknown, there are some small but tangible steps you can take to get started:
- Research to establish what you need to succeed in your new industry. This could include looking at the skills, qualifications and experience on the job listings that interest you.
- Figure out the steps you need to take to bridge the gap. Turn them into smaller, more achievable steps that you can work on today, tomorrow and each week to get where you want to be.
- Revisit your resume to establish what transferable skills and knowledge you might have.
- To dip your toe in the water of a new career path, you could also organise brief, informal interviews to get a better understanding of what the job could look like, or better yet seek out opportunities to job shadow or volunteer.
If your finances are holding you back, here are three things to consider:
- Getting familiar with your future career gradually if possible. One way to do this is by exploring your new industry as a side hustle while earning a more stable income in your present job.
- Explore all of your options. If heading back to uni is in your future, draw up a budget and stick to it, or if you need to enroll in a short course, you might need to ask for some time off work.
- Think of your future. Although your finances might take a hit to begin with, there are ways to stretch and boost your finances in the short-term so you can put your own wellbeing and life satisfaction first in your future.
What advice do you have for people who aren’t happy in their current roles, but don’t know what to do next?
Our career is a massive part of each of our lives – we spend an average of 30% of our lives working, after all!
If you’re not feeling satisfied with your current career path, don’t be afraid to research or explore different industries. See if something piques your interest, and then go from there. Visit the career advice section on the SEEK website for additional support and guidance.
*New Zealand independent research conducted by Nature on behalf of SEEK; interviewing 4,000 Kiwis annually