Symba.io’s Tips As You Start the Job-Search Process

Top actions you can take now to be a competitive applicant

Illustration of various hands holding resumes coming out of a laptop screen

We recently partnered with Symba.io to find out about current hiring trends, best practices when communicating with employers and how to stand out in the hiring process.

Led by a diverse team, Symba is building a platform with a purpose: Open up the workforce and power more than 1 million job opportunities in the next five years. Symba is a female-founded tech startup that has designed more than 5,000 talent-development experiences for customers such as Robinhood, Genentech and Chewy, and has been featured in The Washington Post and TechCrunch as a leader in the future of work.

Meet Our Speaker

Headshot of Mitra LeBuhn

Mitra LeBuhn, Head of Impact and Growth at Symba, is a communications and partnerships professional dedicated to supporting social justice initiatives. Mitra combines a unique background in global health and higher education, and speaks French. Beyond Symba, Mitra spends her time outdoors, traveling the world and making music.

Check out the top take-aways that Mitra offered:

Trends in the Job Market

Looking at the job market right now, COVID-19 has had an impact on the current job market. One key finding is that remote work is here to stay. Employers have found that there’s a lot of cost benefits to shifting to a remote setting and supporting remote workers. A lot of workers are finding that they prefer the flexibility of remote work.

Another part of the shift in the job market is that labor shortages continue to persist despite unemployment. We’re seeing a lot of people shifting out of their full-time roles, not fully satisfied with their current state. We found that more than half of employees, globally, say they would consider leaving their jobs after the pandemic if they weren’t offered flexibility about where and when they work.

There’s a lot of competition in the space for full-time roles and even entry-level employment. A Pew Research study found that 31 percent of 2020 college grads are still unemployed as of fall 2021. And that number is significantly raised from 2019, where it was just 22% unemployed.

So there’s going to be multiple classes of graduates competing for the same entry-level, full-time roles. It’s going to make it more challenging to land some of these opportunities. But at the same time, we are seeing a lot of job openings coming out. So being strategic about what industries you’re applying for, how you position yourself for those roles, the skills that you’re developing to greater position yourself is all top-of-mind right now.

I’ll also add that data from online job ads are showing that there are severe labor shortages. And because of this, employers have down-skilled some requirements for job postings and are offering more sign-on bonuses, higher starting salaries and more on-the-job training.

Another thing to keep in mind is that as you’re going into interviews, be sure to ask employers about opportunities for growth within the company, how they’re supporting professional-development opportunities and what that’s going to look like for you. You might be getting a nice package from the beginning, but you want to ensure that you’re going into an opportunity that will continue to develop your career growth.

Let’s think about some of the industries that are currently trending and taking on more candidates. One of those top industries from LinkedIn data is medical and roles within the medical field are definitely growing. We’re seeing more than 230,000 open positions in medical. A lot of these are within nursing and mental health services.

We can speculate that that might be due to some of the impact of COVID-19 and being at home for so long. A lot of people are taking advantage of mental health services.

We’re also seeing growth within technology, particularly within software engineering and digital marketing opportunities — trends within AI and machine learning, digital marketing, digital content creation and e-commerce.

Finally, we’re seeing a lot of growth within the education sector. Roles have been growing by 20.8% year over year. So I think a lot of that is because education is a continuously developing industry, and there’s been a lot of emphasis on workforce lately at the political level. Biden is supporting a lot of Workforce Innovation grants, so it makes sense that we’re seeing a lot of opportunity within education roles and an emphasis on new opportunities there.

Equally important in this age of increased automation and digitization is durable skills. This is an initiative that America Succeeds has been researching heavily in. Durable skills are often considered soft skills — leadership, having a strong character, collaboration, metacognition, a growth mindset, critical thinking, mindfulness.

Making Your Job Application Stand Out

Here are three simple pieces of advice to create a strong application.

If you are applying for a design role or marketing role, your résumé should match the expectations of that position. So be sure to beautify your résumé and make it match your personal style. That visual-first impression is going to make a strong first impression.

But the same can be done for a technical role. Simplify the way that your hiring manager is going to view your résumé. Make it easy for them to digest the information, to see the key points about your experience and your character. And if you can, find a way to tell a story through your résumé.

Leveraging those keywords is also helpful because a lot of hiring managers are using AI and other technology to streamline their process of reviewing candidates. If you have the right keywords in your application, that will help bring your application to the top.

Don’t be afraid to reach out on LinkedIn and connect with current employees at the company you’re applying to. This is an opportunity to meet other people who work there, to do some discovery calls and vet if it’s the right place for you. If you’re reaching out to employees at the company, they might tell the hiring managers that you reached out. There are more opportunities for your name to be mentioned, it’s a strong way to show that you care about your career growth and direction, and that you want this to be the right fit for you.

How to Be Productive While Looking for Work

Carve out specific times in the day when you’re going to be researching job openings, when you’re going to be crafting those applications, perfecting your résumé and tailoring it for each opportunity. Make sure that you have dedicated time for each of these tasks.

You can also leverage tools to support you such as TealHQ.com. You can organize all the jobs that you’re looking for, which ones you’re on track for an interview and which ones you’ve heard back from.

Create an environment for yourself so that you can focus and be more productive with your job search.

The last thing is to have some positive self-talk and words of encouragement. It can be really challenging and difficult to go through the job process. And there will be moments of rejection, but you have to remember you’re a meaningful person. You are a person who has value, who has skill sets that you’ve been developing and you will find the right place to contribute them to.

Get Social

This is a big part of the job process, too. Your online presence is going to help demonstrate who you are as a professional. Leverage social media, like LinkedIn.

This also means engaging on that LinkedIn profile, so reach out to people on the platform. Don’t be afraid to search for people who have a title that you aspire toward and send them a message to connect. Ask them if they’d be interested in the coffee chat; that’s a great opportunity to ask them questions about the job role, what it’s like to actually be working in the industry, how they got there. It’s also a great way to make a connection with a potential mentor.

Make meaningful social posts. If you have some project you worked on in school, that you got a key learning from, don’t be afraid to share that key learning on social media and educate other people.

All of that is valuable for getting your voice out there and making those professional connections in the digital space.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Ask the right questions. Any time you’re doing a discovery call for an opportunity, ask about how they got there. Ask about what they love about their job, what they don’t love about their job.

Don’t be afraid to get to the heart of what it’s really like to play that role or work in the industry that you’re curious about.

Be mindful of your virtual body language. If you’re doing a video interview, be conscious of the way that you’re presenting yourself in front of the camera. Studies have shown that 55 percent of communication is body language, 38 percent is your tone of voice and 7 percent is the actual words that are spoken.

Watch the entire video here:

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UC Berkeley Extension is the continuing education branch of the University of California, Berkeley. We empower learners to meet educational and career goals.

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