Rethinking Job Networking During COVID-19

Nearly 80 alumni, parents, and parents of alumni attended a virtual event hosted by the Alumni Association Board of Governors on November 10, which focused on the shifting workforce in the face of the pandemic. Watch a replay below.

Keith Holmes ’77, Aushlee Cummins Motes ’04, and Gretchen Dwyer P’24 led a discussion about how to navigate the current employment environment and advance your career. Read speakers bios here.

While the primary goal of the discussion was to provide valuable information for those alumni whose careers have been affected by the pandemic, the speakers also discussed the effectiveness of networking – and the value of the Hotchkiss network, said Caroline Sallee Reilly ’87, director of constituent relations.

Some of the topics discussed included how to prepare for virtual interviews, what industries are seeing jobs return, the ins and outs of working with a recruiter, researching jobs and prospective employers, and creative ways job candidates can differentiate themselves.

Being flexible and responsive are key in these unprecedented times, the speakers agreed.

“Things are shifting with the times. Changes that we are seeing now are transitional not transformational, and it is not clear whether these changes will be permanent. Processes are shifting to fit the circumstances, and that is part of a trend that has been going on for some time,” said Keith Holmes, human resources leader at IBM.  

But the process, he said, is still the same. The job search comes down to planning, research, connecting, engaging around opportunities, competing, and closing in on the job.

Human contact is important but there are fewer situations where candidates are going to be face-to-face with the employer. But it is important to engage in the process by using different technologies as a way to present yourself. “If you can navigate this process with confidence and poise, it's going to improve your chances of success,” he said.

As the employment environment changes, thinking with a flexible and open mind is critical.

It is also important to craft your story, said Aushlee Cummins Motes ’04, director of LinkedIn Creative Studio. 

“From the first conversations to the interviews, you have to ensure that your story is compelling and you differentiate yourself from everyone else. Who you are as a person is important to communicate,” she explained.


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