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What Job Seekers Can Expect in the New Normal

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What are the opportunities post-pandemic and how you can make them work to your advantage?

Many job seekers are waiting for things to get back to normal and, unfortunately, that is just not going to happen. COVID-19 has changed the definition of normal and will continue to impact the job market and job seekers in the foreseeable future.

Think of the new normal after 9/11. We adjusted to increased airport security, TSA and many new restrictions. This global pandemic will continue to impact job seekers as well as employers as we continue to face uncertainty. Worldwide, there are millions of people unemployed with some industries hit much harder.

The leisure and hospitality, airlines, food services and retail industries have been the hardest hit, so job seekers from these industries must consider alternatives. A perfect example of this change was when the CEO of CVS, Larry Merlo, released the following statement: “Our company plans to immediately hire 50,000 people for full-time, part-time and temporary jobs, including store positions, home delivery drivers, distribution workers and customer service representatives. Furloughed workers from hotel chains Hilton and Marriott would be among the people we will hire.”

There are essential businesses that continue to thrive as they rethink their recruiting, interviewing, hiring and onboarding processes to make them safe during the pandemic and when they get to the other side of the crisis. The need for new equipment, products and services has created new products, companies and job opportunities.

However, job seekers will experience differences in the application process, interviews, safety measures, laws, onboarding and employer priorities.

Application processes

The application process was one of the first noticeable changes. Very few companies allow walk-in candidates to apply for a job now. Most applications are accepted online, and many companies will accept a LinkedIn Profile in lieu of a résumé or CV.

LinkedIn Learning asked me to create and fast track a course on Virtual Interviewing for HR because of the high demand from hiring authorities. This sudden change and need are proof of how rapidly the interviewing process needed to respond to changes. Initially, the virtual interview and hiring processes were implemented out of necessity and viewed as a temporary solution. However, they save time and money, and will likely continue post-COVID-19.

Safety measures

Safety measures must be provided throughout the interviewing, hiring and onboarding process when done in person. When recruiters or hiring managers interview in person, it is done by appointment only to protect the candidate, as well as the interviewer.

Job seekers must clarify restrictions and be informed about wearing a mask, social distancing, procedures for the use of elevators, restrooms and common areas like lunchrooms, hand sanitizer provided and any other safety precautions.

Changes in the law

In the US, job seekers should understand the changes in laws including the Family Medical Leave Act and CARES Act. If they become ill, they need clarification if they will be protected and become eligible for unemployment.

Employers should know how to report someone they suspect has come to work sick and who the point person is to answer questions.

Onboarding

Onboarding has also changed with much of the process being done by phone or online. The greatest changes happen after the onboarding process because companies must adjust their practices to comply with new state and local workplace guidelines.

Job seekers should expect additional training and orientation on new protocols in their work environment.

Employer priorities

Worldwide protests against racism have impacted changes for racial equality in the workplace. According to a “Work Different” survey from Daily Pay, job seekers believe that companies with diversity in their leadership and workforce are more desirable places to work.

In the workplace, it is well documented that inclusion and diversity benefit both the employee and business, and these factors are important to job seekers.


According to Jack Whaltey, a recruiting strategist for Human Code of Hiring, “As businesses reopen during the pandemic and millions of unemployed hit the job market, how companies attract the best candidates will be determined in part by how inclusion and diversity are emphasized during the recruiting process. Job seekers today expect an inclusive, diverse workplace where the best people are hired, regardless of race or gender.”

Offering the option to work remotely also provides companies with a competitive edge. In an August 2020 survey by Zip Recruiter, over 55% of job seekers preferred to work remotely. According to a recent article in Forbes, “The new normal isn’t remote work, it’s better[…] work is something you do, not somewhere you go and therefore, one’s professional success shouldn’t be dependent on a location.”

Many remote opportunities advertised on job posting sites command upward of six-figure salaries. Job seekers can expect many traditional job opportunities to offer them the option of working remotely or a hybrid arrangement of onsite and remote.

The job market will continue to adapt post-COVID-19. Companies are being created in response to the opportunities this global pandemic presents, which will also result in job creation. Job seekers must conduct research on prospective companies, consider new industries, commit to a lifetime of education, re-training and embrace change to continually improve their marketability as candidates.