Virtual is a Virtue in the Age of COVID-19
For our first twenty-seven years or so the Barrett Group was a physical company. We had an office. People worked there. But much of the career consulting and coaching that we delivered was provided over the telephone, so in some ways, we were already well on the way of being a “virtual company.”
About three years ago we decided to change that, so we made significant investments in software and communication that allow our consultants and associates to seamlessly interact with clients all over the globe including video, voice, screen- and document sharing. We also made a push to automate certain more administrative activities that we see as less value-adding than the “face time” that our clients receive from our team.
Those were our initial steps of learning how to do business in a virtual environment.
We took these steps for several reasons. First, I used to travel 300,000 miles a year and I was tired of traveling. Second, the technology has matured to the point where it is not that difficult to have good quality discussions virtually. Third, it improves efficiency and saves money. Fourth, there is a profound quality of life aspect to working virtually—at least for most people.
And now, of course, there is a fifth reason… it may protect you from COVID-19.
We still have a small office in Rhode Island where curious clients can meet senior staff face-to-face if required, however, most of our services are delivered virtually. But just because we are comfortable with this approach does not mean that all clients can instantly excel at performing interviews virtually. In fact, most struggle with this new medium that is also rapidly becoming the norm for hiring interviews, even for very senior roles.
From contacts on the employer side we hear that it is easier for the hiring company to collect a few decision makers in a virtual session, who can all interact and/or listen to the interviewee, and at the end they can continue in an internal session to complete their assessment of the candidate right then and there. This tends to accelerate the decision-making process, and that is also an efficiency gain for the would-be employer.
So we now routinely include video training in our Marketability Assessment and Full Service Programs because it is becoming a key skill that candidates require to stand out from the crowd.
I suppose it is a species of self-awareness that our clients gain through this training—the ability to better understand how they come across on video, to avoid unconscious bad habits (“you know… you know…”) and even to turn the medium to their advantage.
In fact, during the initial “Targeting” stage of our process (we call it the Clarity Program©), we help clients rethink their target industry and role to better fit with their personalities, preferences, and skills, not to mention to improve their compensation possibilities.
One remarkable story concluded this past week when a septuagenarian dentist who had been injured so that he could no longer practice medically concluded his Barrett Group career change program and wrote us a jubilant letter of thanks saying:
“Hi to all, I’m tipping a glass to you for helping me land a job!
Greg [his career coach], I finally connected with [the target company and] a senior manager. He conducted an on-line interview, which went well enough for him to offer me a position in Management. It’s a work-at-home position with full benefits at the top of their hourly pay scale. 30-35 hours per week.
This company is a major supplier of breathing assistance technology like for COPD, and CPAP machines for sleep apnea. With this viral pandemic, I’ll find out soon how set they are to be front line providers.
Anyhow, thank you for the lead and sticking with me. Be safe and well.”
So, clearly, on-line interviews are becoming the norm and, for many roles, so is working virtually.
In this particular case, we helped the client recognize a completely different sphere of activity where his skills and experience would be valuable while enabling him to work from home.
Another client suggested we offer the Clarity Program© as an executive development package even for clients who do not want to change jobs, but in general, we focus on helping executive clients clarify their career objectives and then go out and get the job of their choice.
Here is another testimonial to the value of that process:
“[The] Clarity Program© is well orchestrated and highly meaningful to achieving success in both personal and professional life. [The] Length of the program is just right and makes sure to keep the attention of the change seeker. It provides valuable information for career change and enhancement.”Lingadahalli G Shantharama, March 2020
From a curiosity in the 1990’s to a necessity in the 2020’s working virtually has gone main stream with vast implications for most executives that many have not even begun to consider. Let us reflect together in these difficult days on your own situation and how we may be able to help you improve your compensation, your work/life balance, your measure of satisfaction… Feel free to schedule a (virtual session) to explore by visiting us at BarrettGroupLegal.com.
Thank you, and, stay healthy!
The Barrett Group