Last week’s economic figures were impressive and historic – 6.6 million unemployment claims, doubling the amount in the previous week. However, requests for shelter at home that affect most American workers also offer an unprecedented opportunity for employees to follow a new career path, he says. Joe Mullings, career specialist with over 30 years of experience in providing hiring strategies for Fortune 100 companies like Google, Johnson & Johnson and Siemens.
Mullings was recently named Visionary director of MRI Networks, the third largest executive recruiting company, with 400 offices worldwide. He also continues to run his own company, The Mullings Group, a leader in talent acquisition in medical technology.
I had the opportunity to interview Joe recently. Here are some of the highlights of this interview:
Jill Griffin: Describe your childhood.
Joe Mullings: I was born in 1962 in Hicksville, New York, where I attended school until college. I would describe my family as a working class. My mother was a nurse and my father was an electrical technician at Grumman Aerospace. My parents divorced in the early seventies, so I grew up mostly with just one mother who raised my brothers and me.
Griffin: Have you ever had a major setback in your life and what has that taught you?
Mullings: In 2014, I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. My heart was operating at a fifth of its normal capacity to pump blood out of the left ventricle. Half of those diagnosed with this type of heart disease die within five years. The experience taught me a lot about mental strength, physical endurance and an understanding that a statistic that assigned you a chance in two to die is only true if you allow it to be true. And so, with that, I learned a lot about how to control your own future and not live up to what statistics and experts say
Griffin: Why is this time different and unique for building a career?
Mullings: The COVID-19 pandemic presented the best opportunity for a career change in life. Never before have you been given so much permission to deviate from a career that you don’t like very much. Previously, whenever you made a major career change, the pivot would likely be greeted with profound skepticism by a potential new employer. Now, probably close to 25% of the US population will be unemployed by the time this recession is completed, and many will have no choice but to change careers so that career change becomes a new normal.
So when you show up for an interview in a year or two and someone from HR asks, why did you switch from, say, electrical engineering to photography – or vice versa – just look them in the eye and answer “I chose be strong and brave enough to not only reinvent myself, but to be true to my authentic self and go out and pursue the career I have always wanted. ”
Griffin: Should we be thinking about building a career at this time of national emergency?
Mullings: One hundred percent, yes, you should look at career building right now. Control what you can control. Right now, you can’t control anything about the national emergency other than keeping yourself and your family safe, socializing and staying home. What you can do – and now you have 40 hours a week – is to work on building your career.
At the moment, you must make your job full time to build your online reputation. Listen, most of us spend a lot of time on social media building our personal reputation, because we care about what others think of us. Why don’t we invest even more time in building our professional reputation? Our professional brand earns much more than our personal brand.
Our personal reputation is already known to friends, family and co-workers. Why not work on your professional reputation for people who don’t know you, for people who will one day be able to hire or partner with you? You never had a better time or more captive eyes on social media than you do now and this is probably true in the coming months. Get on social media for those people who may be important to your career. They are stuck at home like you and they probably use their social media a lot more than ever. This investment in time will now bring huge returns later.
Griffin: Which industries are most likely to hire and contract quickly after the pandemic?
Mullings: The most obvious sector that will be hiring quickly will be healthcare providers around the world. Our current healthcare heroes will be exhausted and will need time to recover. The level of PTSD in this cohort will be mind-boggling, both in physical, mental and spiritual health. They will need and deserve a break.
Therefore, you will start to see local, state and federal governments investing money in our health care system, that is, we will take money from missiles, bombs, aircraft carriers and machine guns and redirect it to build an arsenal to fight a likely enemy of the future – the next pandemics.
Anything that helps advance medical care, such as telehealth technologies and therapeutic diagnostic devices, will also grow rapidly. You are already seeing the multi-billion dollar venture capital channel in that direction, essentially anything that supports healthcare.
Griffin: What suggestions would you give to create a post-pandemic curriculum?
Mullings: If your standard resume is already well written, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Instead, if you decide to change your career, a cover letter explaining what you did during your free time will be the most effective way to illustrate how productively you have used that time gift. What did you do? What books did you read and why did you read them? What skills did you acquire during that period? What skills during the 30, 60, 90, 120 and 150 day periods did you learn that made you a more valuable asset on the other side of the pandemic? It shows how productive and motivated you are when no one is looking.
Griffin: What are the best new skills to be followed during the home shelter term that would improve my career opportunities when companies are hiring again?
Mullings: The best new skills to develop at home are those that will pay dividends, improving your career opportunities. To start, make a short list of books on the industry you want to follow and start reading. Now, don’t necessarily limit yourself to business literature, because personal development is also recognized by HR as an important employee asset. Read a book by Brené Brown, Simon Sinek or Yuval Noah Harari and be prepared to explain why you read these authors and, most importantly, what you have learned from them. You will be able to leverage this new knowledge in your next career change, both for you and your teammates in your new organization.
Griffin: How exactly can job seekers use social media to help them develop their careers?
Mullings: This is one of my favorite questions, because it is a powerful underutilized career development strategy. The goal is to be part of the target individual’s internal social media circle.
So, let’s divide. First, identify 50 companies you want to work for. You need to identify the management team, that is, directors, vice presidents and division presidents who work at these companies. Create a spreadsheet and start following these people on LinkedIn, as well as any corporate accounts associated with the companies.
You have three options for messages – like, share and comment. You prudently want to make sure you like it 10 out of 10 times, share twice out of 10, and intelligently comment twice out of 10. With this formula, you start to create a cadence of communication. You like, share or even mark them casually in one of your smart posts in some relevant context.
Then, after waiting at least 30 days, you can start creating posts that are likely to be of interest to the companies and executives you are following. The post must be a high-value ad, and you can start branding these companies, again very conservatively, in your post with something intellectually valuable or insightful.
In that regard, do your research. Start collecting five to 10 articles a day in the industry you are targeting and share the main conclusions or a particularly interesting fact or anecdote from the best of the lot. Create Google alerts on important industry topics, so you can become an informed observer in real time.
With this strategy, you will discover that gradually, over the next two to three months, you will be attracted to their circle, the LinkedIn profile ecosystem and who they follow. Mission Accomplished!