The Covid-19 illness has seen mass outbreaks around the world, tragically losing many thousands of lives and harming the career prospects of millions. In the UK alone, unemployment increased to 4.0% and the number of job vacancies edged lower for the tenth consecutive month.
However, public sector jobs remain vital to global economies, ‘essential’ jobs in manufacturing and transport are very much needed to support governments and populations, and many companies are utilising the lockdown to provide new uses for their products that can help the multimillions of consumers stuck in their homes. Engineers and technicians have a particularly versatile skillset that can be adapted to looking for a job in challenging times.
Many organisations who have been worst hit by the pandemic are now diversifying into providing additional products and services. Follow their lead and adapt: tailor your CV and cover letter to show why you are the best candidate in the current situation. How have you persevered and triumphed with a seemingly impossible task? Have you helped businesses to diversify, strategise or cut costs during an economic recession, or did you get creative quickly to solve a business-critical problem? Use your previous success in difficult circumstances to show not just your long-term value to the business you want to join, but your value to the business right now.
The average hiring manager only takes 9 seconds to scan your resume before deciding whether to pursue your application. Grab the attention of your reader as soon as possible and hold it by promoting the skills and experience of yours that are most relevant to the job. Follow these tips to make your CV stand out:
Social media has become an incredibly important tool to display your skillset and connect with potential employers. Before you apply to any job through LinkedIn, you should make sure your profile is up to date, with a professional picture, and that you appear recently active and enthusiastic by joining industry LinkedIn groups, engaging regularly with posts from colleagues and contributing (politely and positively) to discussions in your community. Use channels like LinkedIn, Instagram and Glassdoor to research the business you want to join, the types of projects and activities they are working on and what it’s really like to work there.
To cement yourself in the minds of your potential employer, start engaging with the company on its most active social channels. Start by liking a few posts, then commenting on blogs and in discussions. Recruiters and employers spend a significant amount of their day connecting with their audience on social media, meaning that they will quickly become familiar with your name and profile, and your positive engagement will give you an advantage when candidates are being put forward at the first stage of the recruitment process. Your social conversations with the brand will also give you plenty to talk about with your interviewer.
As employers are prevented from conducting traditional face-to-face interviews, many hiring managers and recruiters have turned to online video conferencing to virtually meet and assess candidates. Although it may be difficult to separate personal from professional activities during remote working, ensure you treat video interviews with the same care, respect and attention to detail as you would a phone or face-to-face meeting – your interviewer will be expecting formal and professional conduct.
Preparation is key to success. Technical difficulties can make communication even more difficult, so set aside time beforehand to get to grips with the online meeting software and ensure your devices have enough battery and the required audio and camera settings. Do a practice run to see how your background looks from an external perspective and tidy up the area behind you to limit distractions. Warn any others in your household that you will need dedicated quiet time and space.
Get into the office/worksite mindset: plan a day’s routine for plenty of sleep, a healthy breakfast and a positive, energetic demeanour. Wear smart clothes to make a good impression and opt for darker colours of a plain design (no stripes or patterns) to stand out and show up properly on your camera.
The normal etiquette for a face-to-face meeting will apply. Research the company and the role extensively beforehand, paying particular attention to how the business is coping with the current pandemic, and explain how recent events have further inspired you to want to join the business. Maintain a professional, polite and positive attitude, prepare answers to the most common interview questions and brainstorm questions to ask the hiring manager or recruiter that express your interest in the role. Finally, send follow up email thanking your interviewer for taking the time to meet with you, especially at this difficult time, to create the best possible impression.
An abundance of spare time and a reduction in opportunities to go out or socialise do have one positive thing: the chance to retrain, develop your expertise or learn a completely new skill. A variety of businesses, Universities and education providers are now offering free or significantly less expensive qualifications and courses throughout the lockdown period. Whether academic, vocational or practical, from A Levels and part-time University degrees to NVQs and industry-specific licenses and certificates, there is sure to be something that will add value to your career.
Some skills may not necessarily seem directly related to your field, but will be worthwhile for your current role and future career. Learning a new language, teaching yourself to code or mastering economics all expand your ability to develop your knowledge, increase your understanding of the world around you, and will provide useful talking points in meetings that make you a memorable candidate.
Don’t miss the chance to reflect on your soft skills. Communication, negotiation and management are some of the hardest skills to perfect, and the most valued by potential employees, especially the higher up the career ladder you travel. Find a course or method for improving your soft skills, and include these skills in job applications and interviews to stand out from the crowd. In a competitive job market, the combination of relevant experience, personality fit and strong soft skills could prove advantageous over other more seasoned candidates.
A major change can put everything into perspective and provide the opportunity to prioritise what’s really important. Use your time in lockdown for some reflection on your current life situation and career path, work out where you want to go in the next few years and what you will need to do to get there.
Begin by asking yourself some difficult questions:
Once you know your mindset and what you need and want, you have the beginnings of an effective job-hunting strategy. Make your own career plan: list out everything you need to do such as researching, registering with recruiters, leveraging network connections, writing a CV, applying for roles and interview practice. Turn this list into a calendar that plots what you specifically need to do, how and by when, at every stage of the jobseeking process. Treat your employment search like a second job to maximise your likelihood of finding the right job for you.
Great Britain has almost 40,000 recruitment agencies who are poised and ready to help you. Many organisations around the world and across industries, especially larger companies, work with recruitment consultants who specialise in their field as they are the experts in their markets.
Recruitment companies understand what skills and experiences businesses look for, what the role requires and what makes for a successful applicant. Recruitment consultants will help you adapt your CV to the position you want, practice interview preparation with you, and give you insider insight to break into a new industry or level of seniority.
We’re continuing to recruit for Aerospace, Automotive, Engineering & Defence and Marine roles during the coronavirus pandemic – browse all our latest jobs.