Tenacity is the key

23rd November 2020
Richard Guest
Associate Partner & Head of Practice

Tenacity is the key

I can’t quite believe the final conversation in the office back in March was that this will all have blown over by the summer, with colleagues speculating that we’ll be back in sometime between 6 weeks to 3 months.

As we now enter the 8th month of lockdown, we have seen the scale and impact of COVID-19 far more invasive than the vast majority of us ever expected. We have witnessed the demise of a number of organisations as a result of the pandemic with businesses forced to make radical and difficult decisions to remain solvent, despite record levels of support from governments across the world. We have however seen some businesses flourish, with one organisation I have just started to work with, not put a single person on furlough nor introduce any sort of freeze or pay cut during the past 8 months and indeed their business has actually grown – and no, they are not a PPE manufacturer neither.

I have seen a wave of people on LinkedIn with the #opentowork sadly adorning their profile picture and read countless postings from people struggling to move forward in the interview process. This is a challenging time for anyone seeking a new role but how do you keep positive throughout?

Be realistic

First, accept like in any walk of life, you will have good days and bad days. Looking for a new role is a rollercoaster of emotions, but unless you buy a ticket you won’t ever experience the thrill and rush of the ride. Searching for a new role is akin to having a full-time job in its own right, so it’s important you are using your time wisely.


Is it concise? 2-4 side of A4 is more than sufficient. Ensure it contains an overview of your remit, but also clear, tangible achievements and accomplishments. If you’re applying for roles and getting to the interview stage, then your CV is doing’s it’s job. Also consider tailoring your CV to the role you are applying for versus a one size fits all approach.

Cover letters

I’ve never been a huge fan of them, as the CV really ought to illustrate your suitability for the role. In engaging with a trusted recruitment partner, you will be able to convey your suitability and motivation for the role. However, if you are applying for a role being directly advertised by the employer, then a bespoke covering letter won’t do you any harm.

Keep focused

Don’t simply fall into the trap of applying for everything and anything. Know your sweet spot and accept you may need to move sideward in the current climate in order to move forward when the market recovers, and it will.

Have a plan

Where can you have most impact? Organisations are looking to reduce risk across the board at the moment and therefore someone coming to the party with sector or category insight will prove beneficial. Focus on applying for roles where you should have the greatest opportunity of being invited forward in the process.

Keep yourself busy

Try and install good habits around a daily routine. Spend time catching up on industry news, liaising within recruitments partners you trust, practising your delivery or running through dummy interview questions – what would be the hardest question they could ask you and how would you respond? There are also lots of online training initiatives that you could get involved in to develop your skillset. I saw one posting last week from a candidate who had just secured a certification in German language whilst in lockdown.

Take breaks

Don’t spend all day refreshing job boards looking for the latest posting. Taking regular breaks away from your screen, is not only good for your own mental health and wellbeing, but also allows you for a chance to pause and think. Also continue to do things that you enjoy helping alleviate the stress of looking for a new job. Don’t spend 7 days a week in front of a screen.

Look at the interim/contracting market

While you may wish to pursue a permanent opportunity, don’t discount looking at an interim/contract role which may also give you additional skills and experiences in a new industry perhaps.


With everyone far more eloquent on the usage of various platforms like Zoom, Teams or Google Meet, etc there are numerous opportunities to join in on webinars or interactive sector/industry specific forums. These offer a wonderful way of keeping your finger on the pulse regarding latest insight and also a great opportunity for you to build your own network – get involved.

Seek feedback

If you’re regularly getting to the interview stage, but struggling to progress beyond the 1st round stage, then there is perhaps something that you are not articulating clearly enough during the interview. Always ask for feedback – it might not be what you want to hear, but quite often the most beneficial feedback never is, but don’t shy away from asking the question. These small nuggets of information can really help in your pursuit of your next role.

While the market is tough, there are positive signs of hope of the horizon, the news filtering through in the past couple of weeks regarding successful vaccine trials will help to install confidence in the market. The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) also highlighted last week that there were 1.36 million job adverts across the UK in the first week of November, the largest number since early March and the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s so vitally important to remain positive, busy and focused at the moment. Ensure you are continually looking to improve and develop and connected with the right people that can help you secure your new role.

Richard Guest specialises in recruiting senior procurement leadership across all sectors.

Categories: Procurement & Supply Chain