How to carry out a job hunt during difficult times
The last few weeks have been incredibly difficult for UK workers, as they struggle to come to terms with the impact of the coronavirus. Unfortunately, with the temporary closure of many unessential businesses, it is clear that once the official lockdown is lifted, we may emerge from this crisis with a very different workplace.
Many workers may be forced to start looking for a new job as redundancies are made and entire sectors evolve. Those who were due to graduate this year, or school leavers, may find that the jobs market is very different from what they anticipated just weeks ago. In their recent research, the Institute of Student Employers found that “more than a quarter (27%) of businesses are reducing the number of graduates they recruit this year and 23% will cut apprenticeship and school leaver programmes”
Although it’s far too early to predict how the jobs market will evolve as a result of COVID-19, we can be confident in saying that we are about to experience extremely challenging conditions for both candidates and clients.
So how can job seekers carry out an effective job hunt during these difficult times?
We believe it’s about understanding how the coronavirus can impact your job search and building strategies to combat this; thinking about how to make the most of transferrable skills and knowing how to stand out in a crowded field.
Here is some practical advice which will help you to improve your job search over the coming months.
Understanding how the coronavirus could impact your job search
We are clearly headed towards a challenging global economy, and with this, we can expect to see job losses as entire professions struggle to recover from the impact of coronavirus.
There are many ways that the coronavirus could negatively impact jobs over the next few months. And with this in mind, it’s important to think about how you can overcome the difficult times in trying to gain an advantage in the job hunt.
For instance, if you’ve previously worked in a sector that has been forced to close as a result of coronavirus, do you have experience that you can take into new areas? Those in hospitality may have a lot of experience in customer care; can this skill be moved into a sales role? If you’ve specialised in events management, could you move into a similar area of marketing or PR? Could you examine your project management and organisational skills and try something new in a different sector? For example, many IT or SEO organisations may require dedicated account managers to cope with multiple clients or projects.
If you have been unable to work as a result of a school’s closure, could you consider more flexible working arrangements? For a while, we’ve been seeing the gradual decline of the 9-5 job role; the switch to remote working may see employers more willing to collaborate with staff to help them work across evenings or weekends. You may find that flexible working patterns become more mainstream as we emerge from this current crisis.
In our previous blog, “How to improve your skills whilst working from home”, we talked about the importance of a personal SWOT. This is a hugely beneficial exercise when it comes to job hunting because if you can identify the threats that may impact your ability to get a new job, you can devise comprehensive strategies that will turn these threats into opportunities.
Making the most of transferrable skills
You may see the future as an opportunity to consider whether you wish to remain in a similar job role, or branch out into other areas where your skills could give you an equally strong prospect of employment.
We briefly mentioned how event managers could transition into project management – this is because they’ll have the necessary transferable skills to make that switch. As recruitment experts, we know the value of transferrable skills and how they can help you to stand out from the crowd. Some employers will continue to try and maintain their traditional recruitment strategies whilst others will be more open to new ideas to attract the right people to help them navigate through this challenging time.
It’s wise to take the time to think about what transferrable skills you may have and how you can use them to your advantage.
- Tangible qualifications
In some cases, you may be able to transfer your specific qualifications into new areas. For example, the university website Prospects suggests that those with marketing degrees could move into adjacent areas such as business advisory roles, product management, media buying or PPC and SEO. If you have a finance qualification, you could move away from accountancy, towards auditing, stockbroking, business development or data analytics. Similarly, HR qualifications could lead to office management, executive assistant, management consultant or even recruitment roles!
If you have a more niche skill (such as first aid) or you have an active accreditation (perhaps a current DBS check) you may find that you’re more employable in sectors where they need swift expertise, such as the healthcare profession.
We anticipate that employers will start to be more flexible than ever before about their recruitment criteria as they uncover new talent from other areas.
- Softer skills
It’s not just the specific qualifications that may be of interest to employers. They will also want to know how you intend to use your softer skills in new areas. Perhaps you’re incredibly good with people and have an exceptional track record in customer service, or maybe you’re strong at multi-tasking and handling multiple projects simultaneously.
When it comes to moving into newer areas of employment, we always recommend doing your research. You should understand the job role and its criteria and establish if you have the skills to match.
If you’re working with one of our experienced recruiters, we can work closely with you to identify your transferrable skills and provide independent advice for potential new areas for you to explore. Our insights into our candidates ensure that we know how to make the most of your skills and our professional guidance can help you to find the right job match quickly.
Standing out in a crowded field – how to be the candidate of choice
The final practical tip we can share is about knowing how to stand out in a crowded field. There are many different ways, and a key part of this is understanding the sector and the specific job that you are applying for. For example, those working in creative industries can be more elaborate in their efforts to stand out. Using video applications or creative design on CVs can help make candidates memorable to hiring managers. They can see your passion and personality and decide if you could potentially be a good fit before they’ve even met you.
On the other hand, those in more senior roles in corporate sectors such as HR and finance may need to focus more on professionalism and capability. They may want to know more about your specific experience and strategic ability.
We also recommend taking the time to really understand a prospective employer; not just what the job role entails but the company and its sector as a whole. We specialise in recruitment for finance, marketing, HR and admin – a benefit of these roles is that they are applicable to many different industries; you can choose between public or private sector employment or specialise in agency or in-house job roles.
This means that understanding who your potential employer’s audience could be is crucial.
For example, if you work in an agency marketing role and you’re looking to move to an in-house position, are you aware of who their stakeholders are, and do you have any qualities which could help you? If you choose to move into a public sector role then research who the audience is; you never know, having a simple skill or hobbies such as the ability to speak a different language could be advantageous and help set you apart from other candidates.