As I write this month’s blog the unemployment rate in Canada has risen to roughly 12%.  Approximately 3.2 million Canadians have applied for some kind of employment benefit or relief.  Major businesses have either gone into bankruptcy or have filed for creditor protection.  The prospects for a short-term economic recovery are, at best, challenging.

How, given this apprehension and uncertainty, do those seeking employment gain a competitive advantage?

Three Ideas Worth Reiterating

In my March 2020 blog just before the COVID-19 pandemic unleashed total havoc on our daily lives I spoke about the importance of maintaining momentum in your job search:

In my January 2020 blog I talked about how maintaining activity was a key ingredient to eventual success:

Finally, in my July 2019 blog I highlighted the importance of following up on the status of your job applications as a unique and effective job search tool:

All of these techniques are still applicable.  However, there is another technique you should consider incorporating into your job search that may be just as impactful.

One Key Question

Many candidates spend significant amounts of time preparing for job interviews.  They take extreme care in selecting the right outfit to wear.  They carefully prepare their answers to potential questions they may be asked.  They thoroughly research the questions they should ask their prospective employer regarding either the position or the organization.  However, they often forget to ask one key question wrapped up as both a statement and a query:

“This position sounds really interesting, and I’m very excited about the prospects of employment with your firm.  When can I start”?

Asking this one important question re-affirms both interest as well as a desire for consideration.  It conveys both energy and a sense of alignment with the goals and interests of both the interview and the employer.

The Final Ingredient: The Five Powerful Words

After the interview is over, and you are closing, you also need to add these five powerful words in your final remarks.  If you have had a successful interview, but are concerned about leaving a lasting impression, these five words may very well “seal the deal”:

“I’m available to start immediately”.

This is crucial for several reasons:

  • It re-affirms your commitment and desire;
  • It demonstrates that you are anxious to get to work;
  • It conveys a sense of high energy, purpose and a desire for action;
  • It tells the interviewer that you don’t have time to waste;
  • It differentiates you from 99.9% of other candidates.

The new post COVID-19 job market reality is that employers don’t have time to waste.  If they are hiring chances are they need someone to start now, not two weeks or a month hence.  With potentially hundreds of applicants vying for each vacancy the prospects for success are limited.  As an applicant, you have to say and do things that differentiate you from the rest of the field.  This is especially true if you are unemployed.  An applicant who actually asks for the position, and then indicates they are available to start work immediately, is “heads and shoulders” above the competition.

A Final Thought….

A few years ago I wanted my lawn aerated.   I went on the internet, checked out a couple of contractors, made a few calls, and then hemmed and hawed about actually making a commitment.  While working in my yard one afternoon a young woman approached me and offered to do it.  At the time I had my doubts.  Price wasn’t the problem.  She was very slightly built, quite young, and the lawn aerator was very large and cumbersome.  I was skeptical about the quality of work she could provide, and whether she could even do it.  What was the deciding factor was when she offered to do it then and there.  No delays.  No giving me a date next week or later in the month.  After agreeing to the price, she did the work, and, most importantly, did a great job.  I did not regret my decision.

In a perfect world employers would hire the best-qualified candidate every time.  Truth is though….we don’t live in a perfect world.  In an era of immediacy timeliness, availability and motivation often trump qualifications.