Careers

New career: how to find a new job during lockdown

Were you in the middle of applying for a new job before the coronavirus pandemic hit, or are you now looking to find a new 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 has had a huge impact on every area of our lives. In a matter of months, the global outbreak and subsequent UK lockdown has changed the way we live dramatically, and there’s a lot of uncertainty around when things will return to “normal” (as well as numerous questions around what that “new normal” might look like).

One of the main areas of our lives that has been impacted is work. A huge number of us are now adapting to working from home, juggling the need to look presentable for Zoom meetings with the desire to stay nestled in our pyjamas all day, as well as learning how to be productive and manage our time effectively outside of the office.

Working from home is part of the new normal for many of us.

Unfortunately, many of us have also faced redundancies or job cuts, as the UK economy struggles to stay stable during the crisis. And this struggle means it’s a difficult time to be looking for a new job, with fewer roles now being made available. 

New figures from CV-Library, one of the biggest job search sites in the UK, report a 15% drop in job postings on the site between February and March this year, alongside a 10% drop in applications.

However, while it might not be an ideal time to be looking for a new role, it’s certainly not an impossible one – and there are still nuggets of good news to be found, with some industries actually advertising more job vacancies this year compared to 2019. According to site data from CV-Library, there has been 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.

Plus, the pandemic is giving 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. 

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If you’re actively seeking a new role, or you’re keen to explore new ventures, or even if you were interviewing for jobs before the crisis hit, 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 during 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 during coronavirus 

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 coronavirus…

● Follow up on your applications using the context of Covid-19. Now’s the time to get curious and think critically about how the pandemic may have impacted the businesses you’ve spoken to already. If you have a great idea for how to add value during this era, you should check in and say so. Everyone’s trying to come up with a new plan right now – including your dream employer.

● Consider the kind of work they’re doing and adjust your expectations accordingly. Some companies are undergoing massive pivots right now or figuring out how to shift their business models for the rest of the year – and it might mean less hiring or it might mean more hiring. It’s OK to ask if the hiring process is still happening. And if it’s bad news: let go, gracefully, of conversations with those companies that are going through a hard time. You can always start the conversation again a few months from now.

Connect with anyone you’ve spoken to during your interview process on LinkedIn or Twitter. Doing so offers them a gentle reminder that you exist, which is great. Plus, if you’ve already built rapport during an interview, that rapport doesn’t just go away. Don’t be afraid to add a new person to your network right now. The world might feel like it’s on pause, but building on promising new connections is always a good use of time.

Be sure to connect with anyone you’ve spoken to during your interview process on LinkedIn or Twitter.

If you’re just starting your job search right now…

● Target employers in the right industries. Make a list of businesses that do well – or maybe even do better – if we’re all living indoors: 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 right now. That’s invaluable stuff!

If you were thinking about a career change this 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 HR knowledge about how the furlough scheme actually works? 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 might be a perfectly good time to just go for it. Introduce yourself via email and ask out a dream mentor for a virtual 30-minute meeting.

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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 before the summer and now you’re going to stick around a little while longer. This is a pandemic, my friend – 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. 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), published by Scribe 16 April. 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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