between jobs
August 29, 2020

Mastering your between jobs time with the best of new approaches

By Paul Laughlin

The economic downturn caused by the global pandemic has meant I currently know more data leaders & analysts who are between jobs. Having lived through two major recessions prior to this, some things feel familiar but some are novel challenges & opportunities.

Many of those I know have been made redundant (either during or post-furlough), however, a number have chosen to move. For some, this time for more reflection at home has helped them clarify that they need to change employer.

What I have found encouraging about all this ‘doom & gloom‘ is a number of different approaches being taken by these job seekers. Many are taking actions that are more positive & less self-seeking than I saw in previous generations.

In this post, I will share some of those examples. I hope they encourage you too. If you are in this situation, I hope they help you take some positive steps forward.

Positive responses to being unemployed during this downturn

Find a way to give back to others = mentor

Many data leader, analysts or data scientists have prospered and had fulfilling jobs over recent years. Of course, they have suffered the same work pressures as most of us. But in quiet moments, many also count themselves lucky to be following a career they find rewarding.

So, it has been heartwarming to see many of them use the time between jobs to find ways to help others. A number have identified that they could mentor others who are less experienced. Working as a professional mentor myself I can attest to how fulfilling such work can be.

Given the scarcity of real experience amongst junior analysts & data scientists, this can really help. Although it is tempting to feel sorry for yourself when out of work, this approach can really lift your morale. So, consider whether you might have knowledge, skills & experience that you could helpfully share with others while you have more time.

Linked-In has got in on the act with this trend, through it’s new Career Advice service:

Introducing LinkedIn Career Advice, a New Way to Help You Find and Connect with Professionals for Mentorship

While finding the right job is important, we know it’s only one part of the equation. Mentorship is key for developing and sustaining a satisfying career and improving your professional life, regardless of whether you’re giving or receiving some form of mentorship.

Find a way to give back to others = charity

During all recessions, the vulnerable in society suffer disproportionately, so its also good to see a focus on charitable work. Most of those I talked with had identified some way to ‘give back to society‘ during their between jobs time.

A number of analysts & analytics managers, including my daughter, found it helpful to be matched with charities through specialist sites. I’ve shared previously about organisations like Viz for Social Good and other focussed on larger Data Science projects.

A more flexible solution is needed for those who either don’t have those specific skills or need shorter more flexible commitments. A great solution or broader relevance to data, insight or analytics leaders between jobs is the Catch A Fire website. A well-designed site for matching charities with the skilled professionals they need. It has a US bias and is open to all types of professionals, but still plenty of data or analysis needs closer to home:

Virtual volunteering with nonprofits

Catchafire – Skills-Based Volunteer Matching We’re on a mission to mobilize the world’s talent for good Catchafire strengthens the social good sector by matching professionals who want to donate their time with nonprofits who need their skills.

Prepare well for an online interview

As well as giving to others, it of course makes sense to prepare yourself. Mentally this can include working on your resilience, seeing your day job as applying for suitable roles & expecting to need to apply for many. But is also means being ready for those interview opportunities when they appear.

There is a lot of clickbait material out there with 3-6 tips for succeeding in the new media of online interviews. But, I think this piece published by Wired magazine stands above the rest. That’s not because it extends the list to 14 tips, but because they are both practical and help you fix the small things that can make a big difference to how you’re perceived:

How to Ace an Online Job Interview

Unemployment may be at a record high, but-don’t look now-lots of companies are actually hiring. So, your résumé caught someone’s eye? Great, you’ve got an interview. The catch is that you’re not being invited to the office, you’re going to be doing it via Zoom or some other video conferencing platform.

Know what you are worth

Hopefully, especially if you embrace the above tips, you will soon have success in one of those interviews. The happy day will arrive when you have one or more job offers. At that decision point you are often presented with confirmed salary details that have been unclear up to that point.

At this point it can be helpful to have a benchmark to hand (or in your head). But it can be challenging for analysts or data leaders to have up-to-date salary benchmarking data. They are often reliant on the salary scales of a previous employer or subjective word-of-mouth from friends or ex-colleagues.

So, as the final resource to share in this post, I thought it might help to share the results of a 2020 salary survey for data & analytics roles. Recruitment firm Harnham has recently published this PDF based on 3,000 global responses. It gives some useful insights into recent attitudes & behaviour in the market, as well as salary benchmarks for a wide range of roles. Well worth reading whether you’re seeking a role or advertising one:

What else is helping you during this between jobs time?

I hope those resources and tips are both insightful and helpful to all readers who are between jobs at present. I wish you well and would value hearing back from you.

Please use the comments box below or social media to let me know what was most helpful. It would also be great to hear what else you’d like to see shared on this blog. What advice or other resources would help you most at this time? Best wishes.