Carol Hauser
Carol Hauser
Try | Make Mistakes | Learn | Succeed

6 main lessons I learned when I began working during the pandemic

Today, I’m celebrating two months working at Checkmarx as a Talent Marketing Specialist. I became inspired to write this article after reading Liat Ashkenazi’s piece and after making sure that I had lessons learned to share with you, my dear readers.

It’s important to say that this wasn’t the first company I joined since the COVID-19 pandemic started. I decided to leave out the first from my LinkedIn because the experience wasn’t good. Therefore, I can easily compare and emphasize only the positive things.

Checkmarx deserves my utmost respect for the impeccable onboarding execution. My team members have done an incredible job in helping me cope with the overwhelming pressure of starting a new job working 100% of the time from home. I can say I’m having a lot of fun, but I’m also developing myself professionally like I haven’t done for a while now.

My two cents of advice on how to succeed in this situation (and in any other job offer situation) would be:

Don’t let fear of unemployment choose your next job. Life is too short to be working for a company or for people that don’t believe in your potential and micromanage you.

Here’s what worked for me:

  1. Do your social media homework

Always make your due diligence before accepting a job offer. And social media is here to help us (a lot!) with this task. Some ideas:

  • Check the company’s reputation online (Glassdoor, Facebook, etc)
  • Look into your future manager and peers’ activities online, on LinkedIn (the best tool for professional networking nowadays). Are they posting about the company? Do you feel they’re proud to work there?
  • Approach employees under your future manager (on LinkedIn) and ask if they’re happy working with him/her (yes, I know it looks like stalking, but it can make a huge difference!)
  • Consult former employees (on LinkedIn – you guessed right!) and try to understand the reasons they decided to leave the company

Some people probably won’t reply to your message on LinkedIn. This is one of the reasons I always advise people to write an intro when connecting (use the desktop version for that): the chances of obtaining a response are much higher when compared to a connection without an intro. However, keep in mind that you only have to receive a few replies to form an opinion about what goes on behind the scenes.

  1. Deep dive on a research about the company

We all know we should research the company before going to an interview, right? Don’t take it for granted that you have a signed contract and just slack off! Make the most of the few days between signing the contract and actually starting to work and conduct an in-depth research. Some suggestions:

  • Look for relevant hashtags and check what other people are saying/posting about the company
  • Consider listening to the company’s podcast, blog, or YouTube channel. It’s your time to consume all the available content and become familiar with the company’s buzzwords
  • Prepare an Excel/Google sheet with subjects that could be important for your future tasks (in case you’re like me and love to organize information!)
  • Look into competitors too – it’s important to know what the best practices of the market are
  1. Have a meeting with your manager to align expectations 

I love Assaf Luxembourg’s business unit manifesto. Essentially, he says that we’re all business units that receive investments (salary) and resources as inputs in order to produce outputs. As simple as that. Our boss is our main customer. Be sure to identify the main pain points he/she hired you to resolve.

Of course, home-based work also has its own tricks. A boss that gives you the autonomy to make some level of decisions and doesn’t micromanage you is the best you can get. Make sure to earn his/her trust from the beginning.

  1. Have your elevator pitch in place and a short presentation of yourself

The best companies are those who have a very clear onboarding process, as well as a set of initial people you should meet because you’ll be working together.

Take advantage of the fact that all the onboarding processes were transferred to the virtual world and prepare a nice and short presentation about yourself – personally and professionally. Don’t forget, you’re interacting with other people and you should connect with them even through a video call. Make sure to write a compelling story and carefully and strategically choose what you will tell them. You probably won’t have a second chance to make a good impression.

The elevator pitch should be a shorter version to be used if the other person doesn’t have the time to meet you. Know which main message you want that person to remember about you.

In addition, don’t forget to ask about them and their jobs (of course, you prepared yourself before getting into the meeting and researched them on all social media by now, right?). Be bold and ask for advice! They’ve been working longer than you at the company. I’m sure you’ll be surprised by their answers.

Take notes! This period is usually overwhelming and it will be difficult to remember everything. So, if you write the most important information you captured during the meeting, you’ll be able to retrieve it whenever needed.

Last, but not least, smile, be thankful and connect with all those co-workers on LinkedIn.

  1. Find people you connect with and have (virtual) meetings that are not related to work

Not all companies have a “Friends Program” in place, like Checkmarx does. This program was designed to make onboarding easier during a period in which you only get to know your colleagues from the shoulder up, on a small screen.

If your company doesn’t offer this, you should try to find people who somehow connected with you during 1:1 meetings. Invite them for a virtual coffee meeting and make small talk. This may serve as a substitute for coffee breaks that would have been taken while working in the office. You will be pleasantly surprised on how this will assist you in jump-starting and in understanding some unspoken rules.

  1. Make the most of every opportunity given to you by the company – whether it is to develop your skills or make a positive impact in the community

Employees at Checkmarx get unlimited access to LinkedIn Learning, as well as other live trainings. My manager also encourages the team to avoid video meetings on Sundays, so we can make use of this time for development. In my own case, I took advantage of the introductory period and started learning and honing the skills I need for my new position.

Adding to that, during my two months at Checkmarx, I have already had a couple of opportunities to give back to the community, such as cleaning the beach and distributing food to the less fortunate. Those are subjects that interest me a lot – and I even got the opportunity to meet my team outside the video!

Because I know how powerful social media can be, all that information was posted on LinkedIn.

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My final thoughts…

I feel lucky that I live and work in Israel, where most of the population is already vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy is almost at the same pace as before. Checkmarx decided to go back to the office in a hybrid model starting next week, at least in the Israeli office (HQ).

Although I joined at a difficult time, I felt very welcomed by the entire team. I also feel very fortunate and thankful that I found fulfilling work where I was hired because of my potential, rather than because of my prior experience.

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” – Steve Jobs

About the Author
Carol was born and raised in Brazil. She had spent her professional career working as a management consultant there. When crime was becoming intolerable in her native country, she took a leap and embarked on a new life in Israel in 2015. Although her Israeli language skills were still rudimentary, with the help of a non-governmental agency, she was able to land her first role as a Project Manager and a Strategy Business Analyst for a global company where her command of English, Portuguese and Spanish sufficed. Unfortunately, her position was eliminated within two years as a result of an acquisition. Surprisingly, her second take as a job seeker was long and exhaustive, and much tougher than her first. Driven by her intellectual curiosity to find solutions for current challenges and her ability to be resourceful and actively listen to people, she started blogging at The Times of Israel. Then, she was able to build and nurture long-lasting relationships within strategic people from the Israeli Job Market by leveraging social media to its fullest. Today, she uses her own experience in business consultancy methodologies, to mentor job seekers and to help them improve their networking skills in order to advance their careers. In this blog, she shares her knowledge and practical tools to help all the other job seekers. “What you keep to yourself you lose, what you give away, you keep forever.” - Axel Munthe
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