The post was originally published on the blog Seth Levine.
My posts last week (which included predictions of pending lay-offs at technology businesses) prompted a number of people to reach out and ask a variant of the question:
“How can I find a job in the middle of a shutdown/meltdown?”
I don’t know that I have a great answer to that but I thought I’d take a stab at it with the hope that some of these ideas will be at least somewhat helpful to those that find themselves in the position of being out of work during this crisis.
While we’ve already seen a number of layoffs, I think there, unfortunately, are many more coming. Early lay-offs were widespread in the hospitality, travel and related industries. We’re just starting to see these in the tech sector – especially for companies that have exposure to travel and hospitality. I think we’ll see many more as companies get their hands around the cost-cutting measures that will be required for them to weather this crisis and (hopefully) stay in business.
I wrote the other day about companies considering measures such as covering a few months of COBRA and/or allowing for longer stock exercise periods as some tools they can use to help mitigate the pain, but the reality is that being out of work right now is challenging and something that millions of Americans are going to be dealing with over the coming month. This advice is focused on people working for tech companies, as that’s the world I know. Some of the advice is applicable outside of that sector, some not.
That’s my first advice for just about every situation and in this case, it can be significantly easier said than done. But it’s important in this case, even though your emotions and fear may be running high. Take it one step at a time, form a plan, then get out there.
Companies are still hiring.
Yes, it’s true that many startups are locking down hiring (and that’s been the VC 101 advice that most investors – including Foundry – have been giving in general to their portfolio companies). But most are still hiring for at least some key positions. There are many companies that are actually seeing an uptick in business (sustainable uptick, not just the near-term “WFH” bounce that many saw last week into this).
Focus your profile/resume on return on investment.
More than typically, companies are measuring return on all their spending. Crisis brings focus and focus brings out the data analysts to measure everything. This is probably a good thing (as long as eventually budgets free back up for experimentation) but it’s something you should have in mind as you think about how to best position yourself for another role. Be clear that you fit into this paradigm of measured expenditure. You’re comfortable with it; you’ve done it before; you think everyone should be measuring return and focusing their dollars (whether marketing, sales, development, etc) on those things with the highest near-term return. If you need help with setting this out on your resume, you can use resources like https://www.arcresumes.com/ for assistance with making it professional and appealing to prospective employers.
Expand your geographic focus.
Everyone is working from home so at the moment we live in a “post-geographic” world. It might not be the first thing you think about when you’re starting to look around (maybe in this environment it is, so sorry if this is obvious). Go broad and don’t worry about the location. Even if you have to travel abroad for a job, think of it as a way to start exploring and expanding your comfort zone. Even if you have to do some legwork and follow certain procedures for a work visa, background check certificates (like the wa police clearance for Western Australia), and other important documents, go that extra mile. Even otherwise, most companies are much more open to WFH as a longer-term prospect now than they were 2 weeks ago. All you have to ensure for the same is getting a fast and stable internet connection. If you’re not sure where to find one, you could start by searching “earthlink net” and then you might get an idea of the type of connection you need for work.
Get your Zoom game on.
It’s not ideal to interview over Zoom, but that’s today’s reality. Make sure you show up like a pro. And embrace it – it’s the new normal.
Keep at it.
Lots of companies that put hiring on hold a week ago will have a better sense of how their business is really being impacted over the next few weeks (and to be clear, most companies are making week-by-week assessments). Pace yourself and keep at it. Companies are changing their views continually through this and what their plans are today (no more hiring) may be completely the opposite a week from now.
I’ll keep thinking about this and will post updates. I know this isn’t a great time to be looking for a job. But markets are cyclical and I know that we’ll ultimately recover from this.
Seth Levine is a partner and co-founder at Boulder-based Foundry Group focusing on making early-stage technology investments, participating in select growth rounds, and identifying and supporting the next generation of venture fund managers. In addition to his work at Foundry, Seth is active in the global entrepreneurial ecosystem as a founding board member of The Unreasonable Institute, an advisor to Palestinian-focused venture fund Sadara, and advisor to Nairobi-based Ingressive Capital, as well as an advisor and mentor to a number of other venture funds and companies globally. Seth co-founded Pledge 1%, a global network of over 7,000 companies who have pledged equity, time and product back to their local communities. You can find him on Twitter at @sether or at the website.