How to kick-start your career during the COVID-19 pandemic
“Only 3 months into my first job, now I’ve been made redundant – waste of three years of studies for a degree ...”
“As a mum trying to re-enter the job market after caring for my children, I was ignored before COVID , so I’ve no chance now …”
“I was made redundant a year ago, at 55 years old – recruiters told me I was classified as being ‘out of the mainstream’. Now I suppose I’ll never work again ...”
Familiar comments? Yes, and frequently heard nowadays, too – but do they reflect reality?
Despite the Government’s attempts to cushion employment with its post-furlough schemes, inevitably unemployment figures are rising, and low (if any) growth is forecast across most sectors. So, it’s not going to be easy. We are definitely facing an unknown future, unprecedented in recent times. It can be hard to remain positive and focused, but it's important to remember that the economy will recover and you will bounce back.
But how exactly are you going to change that tune and get back up top?
If we're going to be positive and focused, let's start with the here and now.
What can you be doing over the next 30-120 days? Can you be creative? Use your time to seek out new opportunities, or even reconsider an opportunity that you may have previously dismissed. We all have skills which, although sometimes not obvious to us, can be made better use of or applied creatively in new sectors.
Were you a senior crewing scheduler for an airline, with fantastic logistics organisational skills that could be applied in running a distribution centre for an online store?
Are your caring skills transferable to the multi-roles being searched for in the NHS as it recruits across all disciplines to ensure we are prepared for the approaching winter and beyond?
Could your IT prowess be invaluable in another discipline other than your degree, or help a new start-up business?
Have you considered volunteering some free time in helping essential services charities to gain additional insight and skills?
While key industries such as Aviation, Hospitality, Catering and traditional retail have slumped, others have thrived and grown across the country. The growth in online retailing has boosted the demand for products and services from distribution giants, such as Amazon and the Royal Mail, plus all the major supermarkets for home delivery.
Additionally, technology-driven companies are seeking talent to train and employ for all kinds of positions, ranging from food preparation to computer-game design to data science.
Remember, as these are short-term measures, a prospective employer will not look at you unfavourably if you seek a job outside your skill sets or chosen career pathway. On the contrary, this positive attitude may even enhance your CV, illustrating your resourcefulness and making you more marketable.
Talking about CVs, now is the opportune moment to rework and enhance yours. It may be stating the obvious, but a well-written CV and cover letter will always rise above the rest, irrespective of the type of job or career that you are applying for. If you don’t have experience with this, please don’t ignore it, seek assistance.**
Of course, you will need to highlight your relevant experience and qualifications, as well as skills or attributes which could bring value to an organisation. This needs to be presented and formatted in an easy-to-read format. The narrative needs to be factual but captivating to the reader, to ensure that you stand out from the crowd.
As most recruiters nowadays will receive an enormous volume of applicants, many will use applicant processing tools, some of which use Artificial Intelligence to perform initial screening. You don’t want to miss this boat in this exercise, so make sure that you’ve understood the job requirements and that your CV reflects them.
However, remember there is no one correct format for a CV, so don’t be intimidated by online career support services that try to push 'one right way' to write one.
Email us at email@example.com if you need help.
Time for your virtual interview
Remember the three Ps: Preparation, Practice and Patience. All of these will put you in good stead for your interview, which these days will most likely be virtual – either via video call, phone call or both.
These simple guidelines will help you:
Behave as you would if face-to-face. In other words, be punctual, act naturally and dress appropriately.
Make friendly eye contact, try to relax, and be aware of your body language.
Be positive and enthusiastic, answer the questions, but don’t be tempted to waffle away!
Prepare a quiet, tidy, well-lit space to practise, and ensure that you’re not interrupted.
If possible, film and record yourself, and adjust and improve from that recording. If you're being interviewed by telephone, have all relevant documents to hand, including your CV, the job description etc. Learn about the company beforehand from its website, what it does and where, and prepare and practise any questions that you have for the interviewer.
We all hope that the COVID-19 pandemic will pass, the economy will recover and that all companies will begin to rehire; but until then, think NOW, short-term, be creative, enhance your CV and prepare for a brighter future.
BRIDGEOFHOPE.CAREERS can help you restart your career by matching you with a more progressive and forward-thinking organisation that wants to recruit more inclusively. Find out more about becoming a Bridge of Hope candidate, or sign up!
James Thomas is Head of Employment Services for Prosper4 Group and BRIDGEOFHOPE.CAREERS.