Tips on getting back into work post-COVID-19

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We’ve often heard COVID-19 described as a health emergency, but, as the pandemic continues to rumble on, it’s becoming increasingly clear that we’re also in the grips of an economic emergency.

Almost two million people in Britain have not worked for more than six months during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report by The Resolution Foundation.

Paul Naha-Biswas, CEO and Founder of Sixley explains that report found that up to 1.9 million people in January had either been out of a job or on furlough full-time for half a year – highlighting the lasting impact of the pandemic on the labour market.

At the same time, redundancies are rising at a record rate. And the Treasury’s independent economic forecaster, the Office for Budget Responsibility, has predicted that unemployment will hit 2.6 million by the middle of 2021 as the furlough scheme ends.

With the vaccine rollout underway, many predict that restrictions on the economy will be a thing of the past by summer, but, with unemployment at its highest for five years, normality will still feel far away.

Long-term unemployment can sap a jobseeker’s confidence and thus, in turn, may lengthen the economic crisis in the UK post-COVID-19.

With that in mind, what are the best ways to get back into work after the pandemic?

Review your CV and identify transferable skills

Jobseekers can often be guilty of restricting themselves to one sector or role and incorrectly assume that their skills can’t be used elsewhere.

But many skills are transferrable in ways that might not appear initially obvious. For example, there are similarities between a retail assistant and a vaccine centre receptionist, with both requiring excellent customer service skills.

Jobseekers should approach their job hunt with an open mind and not close themselves off to any sectors purely because of a lack of direct experience. In today’s ultra-competitive jobs market, no one can afford to be ‘tunnel-visioned’ when it comes to employment opportunities.

Use the extra time to upskill or reskill

Many furloughed workers, with time on their hands, are using their time wisely to upskill or reskill in new sectors. For example, a report from the University and College Admissions Service found that 60,130 people had applied to nursing courses for Autumn 2021 – a 32% increase on 2020.

If a jobseeker has a gap in their CV or has been made redundant, then it’s always good to demonstrate to potential employers that they’ve used their time away from work to bolster their skillset. Learning new skills and demonstrating initiative and drive will enhance a jobseeker’s CV and put them at an advantage against other applicants.

The value of job recommendations

Unfortunately, the job market is extremely competitive at the moment. Last August, a job at the Northern Monk Brewery Company in Leeds attracted more than 1,000 applicants, whilst a similar role with the Peru Perdu restaurant in Manchester attracted 947 applicants instead of the usual 20-30.

The competition between roles should ease as the economy reopens and more job opportunities emerge. But in this interim period before widespread immunity, jobseekers should ask their friends and family to search across their networks, identify job opportunities, and recommend them for a role.

We’ve never had a job market with such a large crop of experienced, talent candidates, and, in such a crowded market, a recommendation can make all the difference.

How a jobseeker can boost their confidence

Searching for a job is hard. It’s unpredictable, often unpaid, and there is no clear indication of when it will end.

But jobseekers mustn’t let their heads drop. Rejections, radio silence after applications and long waits by the phone are part and parcel of the process, even if they don’t feel great at the time.

Jobseekers can help speed up their job hunt by creating a well-defined idea of what they want from a career. Having a clear image of what the next five years will look like will help jobseekers keep their hunt on the straight and narrow and stop the process from becoming harder than it needs to be.

However, friends and family can also play their part in boosting a jobseeker’s confidence. By searching for and recommending them for roles, they are showing the jobseeker that they trust them and recognise their skills and capabilities at work. This vote of confidence is crucial and will be gratefully accepted by someone who may be doubting their skills after being made redundant or put on furlough.