By Brice Wallace
Anyone who has used videoconferencing lately — and everyone has, right? — knows the experience. Right in the middle of an important, enlightening comment, a child bangs on the door in the background, bringing the chat to a screeching halt.
But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
A pair of speakers during a recent videoconference about getting hired in today’s economic climate suggested that such a distraction can actually work in a person’s favor.
“We’re in such a unique time,” Lindsey Ivie, co-founder of Ivie League, said during the videoconference, presented by Kiln. “I’m home with my kids all day. Half my calls, there’s screaming kids in the background. But at the same time, I think it’s really humanized everyone.”
Ivie suggested job-seekers use the virtual environment to show personality and be creative, even introducing their children to the folks conducting the interview.
“We’ve never had our doors open like this before, so it’s not like your typical virtual interview,” she said. Even if children are pounding on doors and other distractions pop up, “accept it and roll with the punches and be OK with, like, being in a really interesting situation right now.”
“As a mom, your kids will find you,” she said with a laugh. “They will sniff you out and they will pound on the door and they will hunt you down. so you just have to go, ‘I guess I’ve got to mute the call really quick, then unmute it’ and you just kind of go with the flow.”
Another person on the videoconference, Luke Mocke, co-founder and CEO of Mentorli, went with the flow, as it were, standing up to show the audience he was wearing shorts — he jokingly characterized it as “business on top, party on the bottom.”
“That’s the biggest thing is, being yourself on the interview,” he said, “and I think, more than ever, it’s time to bring your personality out because people are right there, in your home with you.”
Ivie and Mocke, who organized the recent virtual job fair titled the “Get Hired Summit,” acknowledged that the job market has changed because of the coronavirus. Mocke described it as “a crazy time” but added that some companies are hiring. On the other hand, students right out of college “are just getting their offers for internships retracted left, right and center. Folks can’t find jobs after school,” he said.
Gibson Smiley, director of Kiln Lehi, said that a month and a half ago in Utah, “companies were hiring, hiring, hiring.” “Things were looking bright, and then here we are now. The numbers that came out a couple of weeks ago on unemployment nationwide are record-breaking.”
Ivie said that has caused many people to jump on LinkedIn, only to discover that things there have changed since the last time they visited the site. They’re trying to discover what jobs are available now that many companies have shut down, and they likely will need to shift the way they pursue those jobs. That can include adding content, such as video, on LinkedIn and engaging with people in that community, Mocke and Ivie said.
Another example Ivie cited was networking at events, most if not all of which have been shut down during the pandemic.
“I think we have to all be open to adapting to the new normal, understanding what that looks like, and being comfortable making that shift and allowing ourselves to open up to new opportunities we never would have thought of,” she said.