Are you considering changing your career? Would you like to apply for a promotion and set yourself up for success in the post-Covid world? In the following article, I have cherry-picked some guidance to help you land your dream job in the higher education sector. First, we will look at the wider context of recruitment and then explore some practice tips.
Is remote working here to stay?
Would you look for a new job if your employer no longer agreed to flexible working? Recent research shows that nearly half of employees would change jobs after the pandemic if they could not work in the location of their choice. During the recent lockdowns, many of us welcomed the prospect of working from home. We have been able to cut down on commuting time and costs, eliminate office distractions and increase our productivity.
However, we also realised that social isolation can impact our mental well-being. Many of us started missing informal face-to-face conversations with colleagues. Those of us who had to switch to home working experienced feelings of isolation, loneliness and lack of social contact. Lots of people have expressed their interest in a combination of face-to-face and home working.
Hybrid working is a type of arrangement where an employee splits their time between the office and remote working. You might agree that it sounds like an ideal solution. According to Harvard Business Review, ‘hybrid work arrangements are going to be the norm for many organizations, in industries ranging from tech to pharmaceuticals to academia.’
Aston university announced fairly early on in the pandemic that they would provide a flexible and progressive working environment that aligns with the needs of workers. For further information, please do take a look at this presentation created by Richard Billingham, Executive Director of HR and Organisational Development at Aston University.
Have recruitment practices changed?
According to the European Commission, the recent Covid-19 pandemic has significantly changed recruitment. Many organisations switched from face-to-face to virtual interviews as these contributed to time and cost savings for both the organisation and the candidates. As they started hiring again after the lockdowns, there has been an increase in opportunities in the job market. Organisations also became aware that they needed to find ways to impress talented candidates in a new post-Covid world. According to Forbes, companies can now expand their search for employees beyond their local area. Recruitment no longer needs to have geographical boundaries.
The pandemic has accelerated changes in work trends. McKinsey has estimated that a quarter of the workers will need to change their occupations in the next decade.
How to find a job in the post-COVID-19 world?
#1 Consider your preferred work arrangement. Richard Billingham’s presentation outlines three types of arrangements for working in a university setting: campus worker, hybrid worker and offsite worker. Campus workers spend the majority of their time at the university and they need to physically be present (e.g. facilities officer). Hybrid workers may spend some time on campus however some of their work can be carried out from a remote location (e.g. university lecturers). Offsite workers may use a range of digital technology and they do not necessarily need to work from campus (e.g. marketing manager).
#2 Broaden your search. There is an increasing number of job opportunities in the UK Higher Education sector. Make sure that you do not limit your search to local education providers. As a result of recent technological changes, you can successfully land a job with any UK or international university and carry out your work in a fully remote or hybrid manner. Please be sure to check the tax implications for working in another country. Do consider freelance or short-term job opportunities. These can very often lead to more opportunities and eventually a full-time contract.
#3 Emphasise your soft skills. In a post-pandemic world, soft skills and emotional intelligence are more important than before. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 37% of organisations considered problem-solving and critical thinking among the most important soft skills potential employees lacked.
Effective communication, proactivity and organisation are skills that many recruiters seek. Universities are keen to hire candidates who are passionate about making a positive difference through their work. To successfully work in a remote environment, you will need to demonstrate strong ownership over your responsibilities. Time management and prioritisation are key because you will be working independently some of the time. You will need to demonstrate your ability to focus and eliminate distractions, as well as resilience to tackle challenges such as lack of social contact.
How to succeed at online interviews?
Research: Spend time learning about the role and the university you are applying to. Find out about their rankings as well as their competitors. Make sure that you look at recent news and events on their website.
Technology: Test your audio and video settings prior to the interview. Most universities use virtual platforms such as MS Teams, Zoom or Google Chat for interviews. If you are not familiar with their suggested interview platform, do ask a friend or a colleague to run a test with you. Do not forget to eliminate distractions and to have privacy while you are interviewing. Make sure that you sit in a quiet room where nobody can disturb you.
Appearance: Treat an online interview as if it was a face-to-face meeting. Dress smartly so that you come across in a professional light. Prior to the interview, think about the body language you want to use. It is best to look into the camera to maintain eye contact. Speak clearly and articulate well. Make every effort to listen carefully to the questions and try not to interrupt your interviewers during your call. Do make sure that you sit in a comfortable chair and avoid slouching.
Responses: As part of your preparation, do reflect on the skills and experience you would bring to the position. Have you changed your work practices during the pandemic? Do let your interviewers know if you have already worked successfully from home and share your experience. Think carefully about how your experience could be unique and help you stand out from the crowd.
My very best wishes for your next online interview!
For further job-seeking advice please see:
- Getting your post-PhD job during COVID-19
- Gaining New Skills And Knowledge During Lockdown
- Job Search Tips During Covid-19
- Top Tips for Job Application Forms