What does job hunting look like in a post-pandemic world? We talked to experts in London
The process of finding a job has forever changed
Job hunting in a post-pandemic world means virtual interviews, a growing dependency on online networking and a need for employers to develop their skills in empathy, according to London-based experts in human resources.
Unemployment rates have fluctuated since the beginning of the pandemic, as job losses and gains coincided with lockdowns and lifted restrictions.
Into this shaky market comes a new generation of job seekers, as well as those who are returning to the hunt after being long out of the game.
Non-verbal communication skills a must
According to Jenn Harren, human resources professor at Fanshawe College, both groups will find that things are not what they used to be.
"When I was face to face over a year and a half ago, I spent time in the classroom getting everybody to practice their handshake," Harren said. "Post-pandemic, I don't know that we're going back to handshakes in the workplace."
Harren said that the most significant change to workplace culture has been the loss of in-person interaction, particularly when it comes to onboarding new employees.
Now, much of this process is done using artificial intelligence to view resumes, and track screen and select candidates.
The majority of interviewing is primarily conducted through Zoom. Harren said she expects that this new method is here to stay.
"I think a lot of employers are saying they can operate with people working from home. So why have extra space for people's offices, or for interviewing?" she said, adding that virtual facility tours, training and development have been saving companies significantly on overhead costs.
To conquer the video interview and win over employers, job seekers must first brush up on non-verbal communication skills such as eye contact and body language.
But before prospective employees can make it to the video call, they'll have to compete with countless other digital profiles as they network online.
Gone are the days of in-person mingling and card-exchanging. Now, standing out on websites like LinkedIn and online job boards has become more imperative than ever to making professional connections and landing an interview.
"I think the downside of that is that you don't get a personal side of the person; you don't get much of that personal touch," Harren said.
"I think the upside is that for the employer, they get a whole bunch of people at their fingertips. And as an employee or a job candidate looking for work, you need to stand out even that much more."
The transition to virtual job hunting has its advantages, like safety and increased accessibility.
Remote work is a 'threat' to workplace culture
But Terry Gillis, president Ahria Consulting, said that he worries about the impact virtual communication will have on workplace culture in the long run.
"Organizational culture really comes from the interactions people have, and it's very difficult to have those interactions through Zoom or MS Teams or whatever your preferred platform is," said Gillis.
"I'm a strong proponent that culture really stems from that interaction with other people. That's why people have been clamouring and saying my mental health has been impacted by working from home and being isolated."
Gillis said that it's up to employers to develop their senses of empathy, if they want to maintain a positive environment.
He said that even remotely, it will always be important to form bonds in the workplace.
"You have to have people that are gelling together to make a great team," said Gillis, "And that comes from connectivity that you just don't get through a virtual world."