The headline statistics from today’s job market make for tough reading. Approximately 5 million people in the UK were temporarily out of work as of July, with more than 2.5 million of these having been outside paid employment for at least three months. Estimates for peak unemployment range from 7.5% to about 12%. Although the Office for Budget Responsibility says that there could be a fairly rapid fall once the impact of the virus subsides, right now the light at the end of the tunnel might seem a long way off.
I believe that there a few simple steps that can yield better results for anyone applying for new roles. Although my experience has broadly been at the executive level, I am now helping a growing number of family and friends who are navigating the job market at all levels of seniority. I have asked across my senior HRD and Chief People Officer network to help succinctly summarise the best approaches to take. Their experience varies from start-ups to blue chip companies, but they are in broad agreement regarding the points below.
Please feel free to share this advice with anyone who has been put into what is a very tough and vulnerable situation due to these unforeseen circumstances. If these steps help anyone towards securing a role, then I hope they are worth sharing.
Five tips for navigating the job market post-redundancy:
1. Update your LinkedIn profile and CV with clear and relevant information for headhunters.
Keep your experience objective and focus on your tangible achievements (e.g. budget sizes managed, FTEs managed, % improvements that you have delivered, reporting lines, sectors and clients you worked with). This will help your CV climb the rankings when recruiters are conducting keyword searches on your profile. It will also add detail that may not have been immediately obvious when reviewing your LinkedIn page at first glance.
If you can, add where your references could be taken from and give clear reasons as to why you moved on from each role. Recruiters are more likely to confidently represent you if this information is to hand.
If your experience is just one sector, don’t necessarily feel limited to it. The view that companies should only hire people from the same or relevant sectors is becoming increasingly archaic – apply outside your comfort zone.
2. Take advantage of your 1st and 2nd degrees of separation.
Your connections are your untapped network. Start as many conversations as you can with anyone that you are linked to through friends, family and colleagues. I am always encouraged to see how benevolent very senior contacts can be, especially in times like these. People are freer with their time at the moment and are often keen to help. Reach out and introduce yourself to a stakeholder – if you don’t ask, you’ll never know.
3. Consider how you spend your time post-redundancy.
Instead of relying purely on job-hunting, focus on acquiring new skills too. Be it learning to code, picking up a new language, starting a blog or setting up an online store (websites like Ebay and Moteefe allow you to start selling online without any initial outlay). It gives you an edge to the common interview questions of how you spent your time on furlough or post-redundancy. It can also benefit your personal life as well as being a great addition to your CV.
4. Be prepared
Being adequately ready for an interview has always been an important factor, but as we adapt to changing means of communication, thorough preparation is now even more crucial. When speaking to Rachel Richardson (an HRD with previous experience at Google, Sportingbet and American Express), she gave the following advice:
“Practice interviewing over Zoom, Teams, or whichever platform you are using. Make sure you understand the technology, sound and lighting, and look at the camera! Presenting yourself virtually is a new skill for many; you have very little time to make an impact and you are more likely to be interviewed by several people as technology has sped up the process.”
5. Help others out!
Many people will be in the same boat. If you make great contacts or deal with helpful recruiters, introduce others to them. The favour may well be repaid in time!
You aren’t alone. While it may feel like you are, keep in mind that millions of people are in the same situation. In fact, "mental health professionals say that no single event since the Second World War has left so many people in so many places traumatised at once", with just under a third of Britons surveyed in July meeting the criteria for a general psychiatric disorder. If you are having a down day or week, talk it out with those close to you, and set some time aside to focus on your mental and physical wellbeing.
Have hope. The job market is tough at the moment but there are pockets of significant growth: June to August saw a 27% increase in the level of vacancies since the record low in April through June. Certain industries are also expected to bounce back sooner than others – as reported by ING, work-from-home capacity within wholesale and business services is a major factor in their scope for rebound. With other sectors such as retail, manufacturing and transportation also able to adjust their practices in wake of recent circumstances, we may see more opportunities here too in the coming months.
If you are lucky enough to find or be in a secure role for the mid-term, ask yourself what you can do to help others. Recruiters have a big part to play in driving economic recovery and levels of employment across the country, but a collective mindset will benefit us all.
There are due to be a record numbers of candidates on the market this year, and no matter your level of seniority, some of my colleagues at La Fosse will be able to help. Please get in touch through our website if you feel we can help you find your next role. Good luck out there and stay positive!