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New career: how to find a new job post-lockdown

Were you in the middle of applying for a new job before the coronavirus pandemic hit, or now that restrictions have eased are you looking to change career? It’s a difficult time for job seekers, but don’t panic – hope is definitely not lost. Here, careers coach and author Alexa Shoen offers her advice on how to find your dream job during this time.

There’s no denying that the coronavirus pandemic took a huge toll on almost every area of our lives. In a matter of months, the global outbreak and subsequent UK lockdowns undoubtedly changed the way we live dramatically. There was - and still is - a lot of uncertainty around when things will truly return to “normal” (as well as numerous questions around what that “new normal” might look like, particularly in the workplace).

 A huge number of us have now adapted to working from home over the last year, and have all but mastered how to be productive and manage our time effectively outside of the office. For many, it’s actually beginning to return to the office that is causing the most anxiety. 

Working from home has become normal for many of us.
Working from home has become normal for many of us.

Even though the country is opening up again, it still feels like a difficult time to be looking for a new job. After so many faced redundancies and job cuts during the height of the pandemic, there is even more competition than usual, with fewer roles available. 

It’s no secret that the pandemic completely disrupted the job market. Figures from CV-Library, one of the biggest job search sites in the UK, report that the UK has 819,000 fewer paid employees since the Coronavirus crisis began last March. That’s a scary-sounding statistic, especially if you’re considering leaving your current employment and looking for something else. 

However, while it might not be the most ideal time to be looking for a new role, it’s certainly not impossible. Because as worrying as declining numbers of jobs sound, the reality is that the impact of COVID-19 on the employment landscape has just sped up what was bound to happen anyway. The roles that have been lost were already seeing a decline due to the development of new technology and the adoption of automation across sectors.

Plus, there are still nuggets of good news to be found, with some industries actually advertising more job vacancies in the last year compared to 2019. According to site data from CV-Library, throughout the pandemic there was a 103% rise in job vacancies in the public sector and a 98% rise in advertised roles in agriculture, followed by a 17% rise in social care roles, a 2.9% rise in education roles and a 2.1% rise in distribution roles.

Whilst the job market and opportunities available have changed, so have we as individuals. Lockdown gave us more time and space to consider what we actually want out of our jobs, as well as what the next step in our career might look like. Perhaps we’ve volunteered to help our local community and found it so rewarding we want to move into the social care sector, or maybe we’ve flourished working from home and want to find a job that allows us to work remotely. 

And even though restrictions have eased, we still don’t know what the rest of the year will look like. Nothing is certain, which means that you don’t have to have it all figured out just yet.

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If you’re actively seeking a new role, or you’re keen to explore new ventures,  don’t panic – hope is certainly not lost. Below, we’ve asked careers coach and author Alexa Shoen to share her best advice for job seeking after the coronavirus pandemic, from how to apply for your dream role to how often you should be following up with an employer.

Finding a new job in a post-pandemic world

Careers coach and author of Entry Level Boss Alexa Shoen shares her advice.

If you were waiting to hear back on an application – or were in the middle of the interview process – before the last lockdown…

● Companies had to undergo massive pivots at the beginning of the pandemic and shift their business models almost entirely  – which may have meant less hiring. Whilst it is definitely disappointing, let go, gracefully, of your applications with those companies. You can always start up the conversation again later down the line when new roles become available.

● That being said, the key is to stay in touch with the people you’ve spoken to during your interview process via LinkedIn or Twitter. If you’ve already built rapport during an interview, that rapport doesn’t just go away and you never know what opportunities might become available in the future. Building on promising new connections is always a good use of time, whatever is happening in the outside world.

Be sure to keep connecting with the relevant people on LinkedIn or Twitter.
Be sure to keep connecting with the relevant people on LinkedIn or Twitter, even if your application was cancelled.

If you’re just starting your job search…

● Target employers in the right industries. Make a list of businesses that have done well throughout the pandemic: the delivery services, video streaming platforms, childhood education products, home fitness, and many more. Which one makes the most sense for you? Where can you help?

● Be very, very clear on how you can provide value to a business. Fill in this sentence: “I am a [Professional Something] who specialises in [An Area of Expertise] in order to help businesses [Make Money or Work More Efficiently in This Very Specific Way].” Don’t be afraid to tell an employer exactly how you’re going to help them stay in business and adapt to a post-Covid world.

If you were thinking about a career change last year but are still currently employed in a job you don’t necessarily love…

● Use this time to uplevel. What skill would make you ridiculously employable six months from now? Is it a specific software you’ve been meaning to learn? Is it supply chain research about how to manufacture products less expensively? Pick your area and put on your research hat.

● Reach out to a dream mentor. Some jobs never actually get posted online – they get filled through personal contacts first. We all have that one person we’ve been dying to get a meeting with, and now is a good time to just go for it. Introduce yourself via email and ask out a dream mentor for a virtual 30-minute meeting, or IRL coffee if they feel comfortable.

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● Reassess and reframe. You’re not failing yourself if you swore up and down you were going to leave that wretched office over a year ago and now you’re going to stick around a little while longer. You’re allowed to change your mind and change your plans – now’s not the time to be hard on yourself.

Remember: you will find your way. So much has already changed since restrictions began easing at the beginning of the year, so take baby steps forward whenever you can. Back away from the laptop on the days when you can’t be forward-thinking and proactive, and you’ll manage to get through this and stick to your landing on the other side. Good luck.

Alexa Shoen is a career coach and the author of #ENTRYLEVELBOSS: A 9-Step Guide For Finding A Job You Like (And Actually Getting Hired To Do It). You can also follow Alexa on Instagram and Twitter and find out more here

This piece was originally published on 8 April 2020

Images: Getty, iStock, Unsplash     

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