A candidate survival guide to job hunting during a global pandemic
As we continue to adapt to a way of life where ‘lock down’ and ‘social distancing’ are part of our ‘new normal’ unfortunately many people will be finding themselves looking for a new job in a market which has transformed overnight.
In February the UK economy had record levels of employment and 795,000 open vacancies advertised. Latest data this week from Indeed indicates that the number of vacancies has dropped by more than 50% with hundreds of people applying for each available job. To support anyone in the position of looking for a new job during this extremely difficult time, we have asked our lead career transitioning consultant Anna Brett to provide her key tips on how to get ahead.
The first and most important tip I can give to all candidates looking for a new job right now is to recognise and accept that things have changed. Many of the principles and advice which applied pre COVID 19 are not as relevant to candidates who are looking for work right now. The situation is evolving but the key areas which have changed are:”
1. The speed of the hiring process
Those businesses which are hiring are likely to be providing key goods and services. These include the NHS, NHS support services, food retailers, logistics and supply chain and manufacturers of vital equipment like PPE. Because of this and the number of available candidates, recruitment processes are becoming quicker and in most cases interviews will be conducted via video and /or telephone. Many employers are moving far more quickly than they did previously and are reducing the time taken to recruit into a vacancy to a matter of days, It is important that you:
- Look at the job boards more than once a day – adverts will often be removed as soon as it is felt enough people have applied so you need to spot new adverts as soon as they appear
- Set up job alerts so you are kept up to date when a new job which meets your criteria is advertised
- Think about who might be recruiting in your area and look at their websites and careers pages
- Ask around – you will have a network of friends and family. Some job vacancies are not even being advertised and companies are relying on word of mouth to find new employees
2. Remote interviews
In the same way we are getting used to talking to friends and family on-line and socialising via apps like Houseparty and Zoom the same can apply to interviews with a little preparation:
- Think about your immediate environment which the interviewer will be able to see
- Create the best impression – look professional, speak clearly and think about your body language
- Sort out the technology you will use to attend the interview and make sure it all works within plenty of time
- Attending the interview – all the usual things apply. Speak slowly and clearly, maintain eye contact and don’t fidget
- Afterwards thank the interviewer for the opportunity, tell them you are interested in the job and ask when you can expect to be told the outcome
- Follow up after the interview if you haven’t heard – a proactive attitude can be the edge you need
- Keep track of what you have applied for so that when you get the call back you are aware of what the role is and what you would be good at it – it’s a real turn off for employers when candidates don’t know the what they have applied for and why
3. Be flexible
You have to have to be as flexible as you can in the current job market. Think about different hours of work and be open to considering jobs you may have not thought about previously. You might also think about more than one part time job and look at roles which are fixed term or temporary contracts. Employers may be cautious and looking for greater flexibility from their employees going forward. Starting with an employer this way can lead to permanent employment.
If your current employer has furloughed you there are some limited situations where you will be able to work, access training or volunteer. You might wonder what is the benefit to you of doing this? In the same way that it is ‘better’ to be looking for a new job while you are employed you will keep yourself motivated, fresh and your knowledge and skills up to date and relevant.
4. Take care of your social media presence
Your social media profile is more important than ever before. Prospective employers and hiring managers rightly or wrongly will look at social media to try and find out more about the candidates that they are seeing. What you do and say on social media contributes to what we refer to as ‘your personal brand’. Your brand is the image you portray of who you are and is your ‘calling card’
Think about your digital footprint and what your social media presence says about you and how you are getting through the lockdown! Avoid engaging with too many controversial posts i.e. political, opinion pieces etc. Think about what you are saying, the pictures you are posting, your comments and review your privacy settings
LinkedIn and Facebook remain useful tools during a job search and building your network and updating your profile are two things you can easily do. Check out this handy LinkedIn Guide from Social Talent.
These are the key main four points that anyone looking for a job right now should pay most attention to. I wish everyone the best of luck – and hope that these tips will support during these challenging times.