Leaving security and certainty behind, making a double jump to consulting during the COVID-19 crisis and joining a new company remotely.
Leaving a job at a major Oil and Gas firm for a full-time MBA was not a decision I took lightly. The lack of certainty around securing the role of my dreams was a huge factor in the decision-making process, but it eventually proved to be the best decision I made.
Job market changes
Prior to the pandemic, I was interviewing several times a week with consulting companies which led to accepting a job offer with my current firm in tech consulting. As COVID-19 started I noticed 2 things. The first one is obvious, that companies were freezing their recruitment while trying to navigate uncertainty. The second one was less expected. The pandemic had created a huge shift in how companies were operating, creating very different opportunities. This meant that whilst some recruiters contacted me to inform that any further interviews would be put on hold, others asked for my earliest availability as their recruitment was booming.
The nature of consulting is to deal with uncertainty and the work is where the clients need us to be, which naturally means that the gap between the unknown and the current state is where the opportunities are. This makes consultants a resource, helping companies to get to a point of certainty. It requires a mindset of always being one step ahead, which means that the approach to the job search for those looking to transition into consulting has to adjust accordingly. One can focus on the slowdown in the market or instead choose to notice that companies are becoming increasingly focused on making their supply chains more robust and that the client portfolio within the public sector is starting to expand for many consulting firms.
Having an attitude of finding the problems that need solving reflecting on how you can solve them will definitely help you stand out and move in the right direction.
It was my first time starting a new job remotely and a result I was unable meet people face to face. In fact, it has been almost 3-months since I started my current job and I have only met 3 of my colleagues. In addition, upon joining I immediately started on a project, meaning that I technically had to get my head around joining 2 companies remotely, simultaneously. This certainly brought some challenges.
I feel like a handshake and a chat in a corridor carries more weight than a Teams' video call. During my on-boarding, I found that things took a lot longer as I couldn’t just turn to the person next to me and ask how to access a system. I had to set the time aside in their diary which meant a 2-minute task turned into a 30-minute call. Also, learning about the company culture and networking was more challenging not being in the office. However, video calling and remote working across the organization has also opened opportunities to speak to my colleagues outside of the local office.
This brings me back to my earlier point that you have to own the experience and make it work for you.
I have been using the virtual space to connect with people within my company and learn more, which due to the nature of consulting, is sometimes made easier with video calling.
Every struggle brings opportunities.
For those looking for jobs, I would suggest changing the perspective from finding the perfect job to thinking how you can solve current problems and add value. This may sound like a very vague and basic tip, but it helped me significantly make myself relevant and increased my employability.
The second tip is to network network network. There are tons of opportunities out there and setting up 15-minute calls can help you secure your next job. During the lock-down, it is a lot easier to get the time in peoples’ diaries. However, I would suggest focusing less on the current openings and more on opportunities and challenges the market is facing. Try to learn what your interviewees are doing to resolve these issues and think of what you have done in your career that is relevant.
Finally, lean on your friends and family to maintain your confidence. Remember, your skills and capabilities do not change or become less valuable just because there is a pandemic. Companies are still struggling to secure good talent and coming across as a well-rounded and confident candidate will serve you well. At the end of the day- no company would want to hire an employee who would come across as desperate in front of them or their clients.
By guest writer: Sandra Sidlauskaite
MBA, Warwick Business School 2019
Consulting, Digital Transformation & Change Management.
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