Starting a job during a pandemic comes with a unique set of challenges. Yet, there are more global opportunities to work online than ever before.

It’s definitely an unusual situation. We’ve had to navigate new, online experiences. For instance, virtual interviews and building relationships with colleagues when you’ve never met them. 

So we decided to speak with two Salesforce Belgium employees who started their jobs in 2020. We wanted to find out what it was like starting a job during a pandemic. 

Hugues Lefebvre, Senior Account Executive, started two weeks before the first lockdown in March 2020. And Babette Claessen, Enterprise Account Executive, started in June 2020.

Related: Find out more about Salesforce careers in Europe.


Onboarding during the pandemic: How starting a new job has changed

When Hugues started at Salesforce, everyone had heard of COVID-19. Yet, he didn’t expect it to have such a huge impact, both globally and on his own experience as a new hire. 

“I started thinking it would be a continuation of what I was used to,” he said, “which is a combination of working in the office and from home, meeting regularly with customers and partners.”

Even though the first national lockdown was announced after Hugues started, his onboarding process with Salesforce wasn’t affected. Babette, however, interviewed for her job in April (virtually, of course). Her onboarding process and start date were also mid-pandemic. COVID-19 had to have had an impact on that, right?

Well, according to Babette, the virtual onboarding process was seamless.  

“The onboarding really tells you a lot about Salesforce as a company,” she said. “I can’t imagine starting anywhere else at the beginning of the pandemic that would have been ready to onboard me in the same way. 

Salesforce had everything in place. It was a smooth and easy process.”

Babette Claessen

Maintaining team spirit in a virtual environment

Starting a new job during COVID-19 requires extra effort to build relationships with colleagues. It’s important for employees to maintain connections with their colleagues, even if they’ve never met in real life. It also really helps to have an employer that suggests initiatives to bring people together.

One initiative at Salesforce Belgium that connects people virtually is ‘Meet up and eat up’. Before the pandemic, this was an in-person event but now it takes place virtually. 

For each ‘Meet up and eat up’ session, six or seven people from different teams order food (paid for by the company) and spend their lunch hour in a virtual room, getting to know each other. 

“You don’t see people around that often, so it’s nice that they do this to make a connection with the new hires”, said Babette. 

There’s a similar drive for connecting with colleagues on a team level as well. For example, some team meetings split their time between formal presentations and informal pleasantries to introduce new colleagues.

Related: Find out more about Salesforce careers in Europe.


So what makes Salesforce different for new hires?

As an organisation, Salesforce doesn’t just talk about company values. Those values are actually lived throughout the business, even during the most challenging times. 

“When you come to Salesforce, you know it’s a fast-growing, busy environment,” said Hugues. 

There is so much focus on the wellbeing of employees. We’re asked for a lot of feedback about how we’re doing and they take action based on that feedback.”

Hugues Lefebvre

Things like blocking off the same lunchtime for everyone really make a difference and employees are given autonomy and trust in what they’re doing. It’s a two-way street; employees appreciate the support they’re given, and in turn, they give their roles their best. 


Worried about starting a new job during COVID-19?

Starting a job during a pandemic can be stressful, but there are a lot of great opportunities available. And if you’re not happy with your current one, see how potential employers deal with a crisis. It’s a good way of measuring them.

One of the things to think about when you start a new job is taking time to connect with people in the business. 

“What I still find important is making time to talk to people in the organisation, not just talking business, but really connecting with them,” said Hugues.

It might be a scary prospect, but it might just be the best thing you ever did. 

“Starting a new job during a pandemic was jumping into the unknown,” said Babette, “but I was confident that I was jumping in the right direction with Salesforce because I knew they were supporting other companies to overcome everything that was going on.”