Olivia Coughtrie gives us her top tips to stand out as an Assistant when unemployment is high

Competition for Assistant jobs can be high even without the complexities of COVID-19, so standing out when unemployment is high can pose an even greater challenge.

The following tried and tested strategies will help you to differentiate yourself from the crowd.

1. Develop your online presence

Social media is a powerful tool when it comes to recruitment. LinkedIn in particular is a place where potential employers can find out more about what you stand for, and vice versa. There are many ways you can leverage LinkedIn to compete.

Research the organisations you’d like to work for –  however viable – and follow them. Most companies have a profile these days and use it to post job opportunities. You can also connect with individual recruiters, industry influencers and other assistants.

Keep your own profile up-to-date with your work experience, add your skills and ask co-workers and employers past and present for LinkedIn testimonials. Being active on LinkedIn can also help you stay ahead of market trends, so repost relevant content.

2. Take advantage of virtual networking

We’re living in demanding times, with many of us having to juggle remote working or job hunting with homeschooling and everything else life throws our way.

However busy you are, try to make time to grow and maintain your network. Virtual events provide opportunities for meeting other assistants and networking with potential employers. Webinars in particular can help you keep ahead of what’s going on in the industry during the coronavirus pandemic.

Staying informed when it comes to assistant trends can help you predict future market requirements from employers. Take the time to connect with speakers following an industry event and don’t be afraid to ask pertinent questions during it.

3. Use any downtime wisely

I say “any” downtime because I realise it’s luxury for many of us! During the pandemic, consider using spare time to acquire new and “marketable” skills. Marketable skills are skills that enhance your chances of securing a role, giving you a competitive edge over others.

Using free time to learn new skills will also demonstrate drive, commitment and an appetite for lifelong learning which is a critical part of today’s work landscape.

One area you could brush up on is your knowledge of relevant software. Specific software platforms vary, but will include word processing, spreadsheets, calendars, presentations, etc. Why not upskill in an area you’re not confident in by teaching yourself some new tricks?

There are many free YouTube tutorials out there today (as well as discounted online courses).

4. Subscribe to job alerts and portals

Signing up to jobs portals is a must for anyone hunting for a new role when unemployment is high. It pays to spend some more time finding the niche sites that don’t necessarily rank highest on search engine results, and therefore might not be as competitive.

Even if your dream job isn’t listed at the time, subscribe to the portal’s newsletter and job alerts. Some recruiters also offer insider tips on CV curation and interview preparation.

5. Prepare for your virtual interview

When candidates ask me how to stand out as an assistant when job hunting, I always tell them that preparation is key – even in the virtual environment.

Many companies still need to make hiring decisions at the moment despite the rise in redundancies, and video interviews are becoming the go-to solution. Virtual interviews require different considerations due to limitations when it comes to reading non-verbal cues.

Test your technology

A couple of days prior to your interview, test your technology to ensure it works effectively. Check your internet connection and sign in using the link provided about 15 minutes beforehand.

Curate an interview environment

Choose the quietest location in your home with the fewest distractions for your interview. Opt for a room that’s tidy and simple so the interviewer can focus on you without getting distracted.

Consider your body language

Position your camera/ laptop so that your face is in the centre of the screen. Convey confidence and professionalism by sitting up straight, dressing in interview attire and building a rapport with the interviewer.

Olivia Coughtrie is Co-founder and Director at Oriel Partners, a PA and administrative recruitment consultancy based in Central London. Olivia is passionate about helping people to succeed in their careers.

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