On Our Minds

Working with so many organizations across multiple issue areas gives us a unique view into what’s happening in the social sector. This is where we share our insights and ruminations.
Melissa Madzel, Lori Clement, and Nakia James-Jenkins share job search advice on a Zoom call
Pandemic & Prejudice: Job hunting during a period of layoffs and uncertainty

Last month, On-Ramps’ Nakia James-Jenkins joined Lori Clement of DRG Search and Melissa Madzel of Koya Leadership Partners for “Pandemic & Prejudice: Job hunting during a period of layoffs and uncertainty,” a webinar discussion about what the job search looks like right now for BIPOC candidates at any stage of their career. We recapped some advice she shared about how COVID-19 and the resurgence of conversations about racial injustice are impacting the current job landscape, and how BIPOC leaders can effectively navigate the job search process. You can also watch the full webinar here.

What’s different about the job search right now

  • Remote interviewing is now standard—and can be an advantage. Many organizations are still working and recruiting remotely. Virtually introducing yourself to recruiters from your own home gives you the opportunity to set yourself up with extra notes to reference, wear more comfortable attire, and communicate in a space that’s familiar to you. (We have some additional tips on how to prepare for interviewing from home.)
  • Organizations are starting to rethink their staffing models to accommodate working remotely. The pandemic has debunked the age-old belief that all team members have to be in a physical office to get work done. Many leaders are now shifting their mindsets, policies, and practices around who and where they staff, which can significantly open up job opportunities for candidates. (You can learn more about this from Nakia’s blog post in our “Going Remote” series.)
  • People are being more critical of their organization’s racial and social justice practices. Not having to commute to and from the office opens up time for people to learn more about racial injustice, including what it looks like in work environments. This is prompting many employees to speak up and hold leadership accountable. It’s also prompting leaders to take a hard look at how they do—and don’t—show up everyday for all of their staff members.

Tips for navigating the job search

  • Be thoughtful about your network and strategic with your interactions. Take time to think about who in your network can best help you achieve specific goals in your job search, and how you can maximize every interaction with them. Can they provide you with a reference or make an important introduction? Were they involved in a degree program or fellowship that you want to know more about? Being intentional with your connections will help people remember you—and make them want to help you.  
  • Assess your own risk tolerance. Unfortunately, many people are struggling financially and looking for work right now. Ask yourself honestly if you are comfortable with conducting a job search amid ambiguity.  If you do feel comfortable with that kind of change, create an ideal timetable (6 months from now? A year from now?) to keep yourself on track. If this change doesn’t feel intrinsic to who you are, maybe now is not the time to seek something new.
  • Create a concrete idea of your worth. It’s important to have a detailed plan of your worth as you research a role at an organization. What’s the minimum compensation amount you require to meet your basic needs? What’s the dream amount you’d be willing to ask for? Your worth can also include things outside of compensation. Do you value having a lot of time off? Are there professional development opportunities you’d like your company to pay for? Listing these details can help you determine whether or not a particular job opportunity is right for you.