5 Ways to Maximise Your Job Search in Uncertain Times

Looking for work can be a challenging and long process at the best of times, but when circumstances change beyond your control, the process can seem even more difficult. No matter what type of job seeker category you fall into, during uncertain times with financial strains everywhere you look, it is easy to become lost with what to focus on. Whether you are currently in a role you’ve been wanting to change for a while, have been furloughed or made redundant and are now actively seeking, or are a graduate looking for your first job, the current economic climate and working from home approach has made the future much more uncertain than before.

In the first three months of 2020, there were an estimated 795,000 job vacancies, 52,000 less than the year before, with a record 33.07 million people over the age of 16 in employment between December 2019 and February 2020. However, during this time an estimated 1.36 million people were unemployed, showing that there were more people seeking work then there were vacancies. Now in the current climate, the landscape has become more complicated with 6.3 million jobs being temporarily laid off through the furlough scheme by approximately 800,000 companies, with uncertainty if further redundancies are to be expected. With a crowded job-seeking market, how can those looking for work stand out and maximise their search in the process?

Reviewing & Updating Your CV

Having an accurate CV that sells someone’s strengths as an employee is important and is one of the first things that should be reviewed. It should reflect information relating to recent employment as well as relevant past employment tailored to the job that is being applied for. For example, if it was a job in finance that is being applied for, it makes sense to have the skills and experience that is relatable to the role near the top of a CV. Unfortunately, nearly half of all CVs that are more than two pages long are discarded, with recruiters on average spending no more than 5-10 seconds looking at a CV. Keeping a CV relevant and concise will increase the chances of it being seen. The other challenge a CV has to face is that of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), where an organisation uses this technology to screen candidates. It’s estimated 98% of large organisations use automated systems to scan CVs and 75% are rejected by ‘hiring bots’ before the recruiter has seen it.According to job site Reed, as long as a CV has been tailored to the role being applied for, there shouldn’t be a worry about an ATS filtering it out.

Improve Your Skillset

Part of being able to sell yourself to a prospective employer is to show the skills they are looking for. Most job postings will highlight certain skills that would be ‘advantageous’ on an application so if someone can show they have that skill then they will stand out. For school leavers or graduates in particular this is an important factor when you have a lack of work experience. It was reported in April that many of the UK’s biggest employers have cancelled or delayed recruitment schemes and internships due to current economic concerns, including HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group and Price Waterhouse Coopers to name a few.The Institute of Student Employers (ISE) has said that many firms have scaled down their recruitment of entry-level staff with more than a quarter reducing the number of graduates they will hire this year. Due to a lack of open opportunities, standing out has become even more crucial. There has never been a better time to improve or learn a skill that an employer is looking for whilst in between work.

Identify In-Demand Roles/Industries

According to Glassdoor, some of the most searched for job roles in the UK in 2019 were those that were high-paying, skilled and had thousands of open vacancies. Some of these roles included Project Manager, Business Analyst and Data Scientist. However, most people’s desired job is not always the most in-demand, especially in times of economic downturn. Realigning the type of role being applied for will help those looking for work or changing roles to find available jobs quicker. Last year the green job market started to flourish with a demand for sustainability professionals growing by a third. The number of these professionals increased by 12% on the year before according to research by LinkedIn, with ‘Data Analysis’ the fastest growing core skill being offered by these professionals.However, current circumstances could mean these roles will be affected for months to come. Those who take the time to identify what is most in-demand and aligning their experience can benefit from finding work quicker. According to reports, the health sector accounted for a fifth of new job ads in the first two weeks of April, with health, social care, civil services and education representing 36% of the market in March, with jobs in hospitality and leisure being hardest hit.

Don’t Rush into Anything

It can be difficult when your income is low or non-existent to not be open to any opportunity that you find. However, as much as getting back into work is important, people equally do not want to fall into getting a job that doesn’t fulfil their ambition or worse, doesn’t provide the finances they need. According to a study by employee engagement organisation Engaging Works, the UK ranks 10thin the world for workplace happiness, and research by Investors in People found that one in four people are actively looking for a new job. As well as finding job satisfaction, being honest with your current financial situation is important as it will help to identify what income you will need to cover essential outgoings. If you take a job that won’t cover these then it could cause further financial difficulty. You may have a personal or instalment loan that you currently need to maintain repayments on, alongside rent or a mortgage. Earning enough to cover this is crucial and making a considered decision on the job you choose will help to ensure there is no further financial strain.

Above All, Stay Positive & Focused

Staying positive may seem obvious, but it can be difficult to stay motivated whilst looking for work. According to search consultants, being defeatist is rarely helpful and it’s easy to forget you’re not alone with many people in the same position currently. It is important to stay focused on the things you can do something about, whilst staying positive and thinking about the long term.

There are numerous reasons as to why you may be searching for a new role, whether this be due to loss of employment, change in career path or low-income. While the process may be frustrating, we hope that our tips to maximise your job search during uncertain times can provide you with some direction.

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