Using the current crisis to strengthen your employment position

Issue 15, July 2009.

We have been flooded with reports on the credit crunch crisis from every channel of communication including television, radio, print media and the internet. The economic recession brought on by some dubious lending procedures in the West has affected the highest levels of government and commerce, and has trickled down to the average person in a fierce deluge. Whereas in 2006-2007, vacancies were in abundance in virtually every region of Ukraine and salaries were growing at a rate of 20-30% per year, while positions were hard to fill as companies were either expanding their operations or new businesses were entering Ukraine, today, a mere year and a half later, we see the diametrically opposed situation. As companies concentrate their efforts on how to stay afloat, they are restructuring their businesses and this also means downsizing their staff, reevaluating staffing plans and compensation packages for the nearest future. Is there a safe haven where candidates can dock and weather the storm or perhaps even take control of these turbulent waters?

Spiritual benefits of economic troubles

Over the past several years, we have all been on the hamster wheel, continually behind on our to-do lists, never having the time to sit back and get to what is really important – the family hearth, life beyond work, the things that add depth and value to our lives. Today, we have the unprecedented situation where we can regroup, reprioritize and tend to the things we have neglected in the rush for personal aggrandizement and the mighty dollar. It is a time to think about our spiritual conditions, not just the state of our pocket books. In this respect, the crisis might just be a blessing in disguise. This is the first message of this article - do take a leap into uncharted waters and focus on the state of your spirit. When it comes to material matters, the second message of this article is that crises bring opportunities. Candidates who have lost their jobs have been given the chance to question where they were going and where this would have ultimately led them had they not been let go. Is this the course they had imagined for themselves back at university or college, or did the path appear before them? Today’s economic situation allows job seekers to review their careers and jobs and decide whether it is time to take a different course, backtrack, or make a detour onto an unbeaten path.

Use free time to learn new skills

For those who have lost their jobs, there are several steps they can take immediately which will jump start their employment search and offer an excellent return on investment: English language training courses. The lingua franca of today still remains English, although arguments can be made in favor of other languages gaining in popularity such as Chinese or Hindu. These emerging languages are undeniably strong competitors but they
are still projects in the making and English continues to reign as the language of international business. Why is English important? Many candidates with a solid combination of skills and experience who do not have English limit the scope of well-paid opportunities open to them because of their lack of English language knowledge. Job seekers should start by making an investment into language training and reap the benefits that follow, for when it comes to competing for a position where English is required and your English is good, there will be strong arguments in your favour for the position, even if your hard skills are not as strong. There are numerous companies in Lviv offering good quality to cost languages courses, which will help you make this investment into your future.

Develop your interviewing skills

Staffing agency experience has shown how difficult it is to find the ideal candidate. Some candidates with the right combination of hard and soft skills do not land jobs they are interviewed for because after being short-listed they fail at the interview stage. If we take a look at the recruitment process from a sociological point of view, we see the pattern appear: 100% of the short-listing process is based on a candidate’s hard-skills, while when it comes to the second stage, the interview, we see a different picture. 70% of hiring decisions are based on the non-verbal elements of an interview and a mere 30% depends on what the candidate actually knows as per the resume. The resume gets you the interview, your interview gets you the job. There are several recruitment companies in Lviv whose employees have been hiring managers. They deliver trainings which will give you, the candidate, an inside view on what employers are looking for when making a final hiring decision. The trainings do not require a heavy financial investment, but truly do pay off at the interview when it boils down to having an edge over other candidates vying for the same position in a tight labour market.

Work on your resume


The importance of a CV cannot be overstated. As was already mentioned, short-listing takes place based on what is contained in a resume. Other than making sure that your resume is error-free, candidates should also highlight
their achievements. Companies today, more than ever, want to see how candidates have helped their previous employers either save time, increase productivity or cut costs. Do not just ramble off your job functions, show what you have achieved. For example, if you helped your former employer beat out a competitor, says this. If you reorganized the work flow to save company time, add this too. Be as descriptive as possible and show that you can add value to their operations. This is an exercise every job seeker must engage in, but if you really want to make your resume stand out from the rest, go to a professional staffing agency and for a small fee they will make your resume will shine for potential employers. Although volunteering for unpaid work experience is more popular for the recent graduate, tough times require creative approaches in the job hunt. Working at a company without pay is probably the best way to get into a company and meet people. Candidates can expand their networks and keep up their skills even if this means volunteering only several days a week. If you really want to work for Company A but it is not hiring, ask if you can volunteer. If you really want to work for Company A, but Company A doesn’t take you up on your volunteering proposal, try Company B which works in a similar sector and gain experience there. If Company A posts a job you have done at Company B, you will be more marketable for Company A. Without a doubt, this a delicate issue as candidates must make sure that they are not exploited by companies looking to cut corners for their own selfish reasons, but as long as the volunteering candidate has a clear plan on where, why and for long they are willing to work fee of pay, they can remain in full control and turn the situation into a win-win. Interestingly, statistics on volunteers who turn into employees are quite promising. Remember, if you do a good job, show that the company is better off now that it has you, you just might get hired or be a contender for an appropriate position when it comes up. Uncharted situations force people to think outside the box. Crises come and go, they have a beginning and an end, but if candidates think strategically today they can turn these days plagued with turbulent storms into opportunities for tomorrow. Using the current crisis to strengthen your employment position. We have been flooded with reports on the credit crunch crisis from every channel of communication including television, radio, print media and the internet. The economic recession brought on by some dubious lending procedures in the West has affected the highest levels of government  and commerce, and has trickled down to the average person in a fierce deluge. Whereas in 2006-2007, vacancies were in abundance in virtually every region of Ukraine and salaries were growing at a rate of 20-30% per year, while positions were hard to fill as companies were either expanding their operations or new businesses were entering Ukraine, today, a mere year and a half later, we see the diametrically opposed situation. As companies concentrate their efforts on how to stay afloat, they are restructuring their businesses and this also means downsizing their staff, reevaluating staffing plans and compensation packages for the nearest future. Is there a
safe haven where candidates can dock and weather the storm or perhaps even take control of these turbulent waters?