The COVID-19 pandemic has affected our lives on a scale that most of us have never experienced before. But as we adjust to this new way of life, there are all kinds of hurdles we must face. One such challenge is how to get a job in the new normal.
In the UK, the furlough scheme has given many people some breathing room. However, unemployment rates have also spiked, meaning many others will be looking for work. But things may have changed slightly in the way job applications and onboarding works, at least for the time being. With that in mind, we look at some of the steps you can take when looking for a new job.
Many of the steps for how to get a job in the new normal are the same as before. However, there are some additional things to bear in mind when you’re preparing.
Laying the foundations for a successful application is always important. And, with potential new ways of recruiting, it’s worth thinking about what might have changed. Preparedness is something that potential employers always appreciate, so be sure to consider the following:
Do your research
As well as looking at broader industry trends, you should also consider the specific company or types of company you’re applying to. Think about how they’ve been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown. What might mean for the business now? You can read more about this in our post on what’s changed in the job market during COVID-19.
As well as checking out individual company websites and blogs, take a look at industry publications and news. You might find insight into particular roles or spot trends that are relevant to certain companies. This type of research can help you understand the businesses you’re applying to, as well as impress potential employers.
Refresh your CV
Whether you’ve recently applied for work or not, there’s never a bad time to dust off the old CV. Writing a resume is a skill in itself and a crucial part of the application process. By refreshing yours and making it as tight as possible, you’ll be better placed to get a job in the new normal.
You’ll want to tailor your CV to each company you’re applying for. Read the job specs and pick out things like key skills and experience. You can then weave these points into your document, making sure you tick all of their boxes.
If you’re looking for some help with your CV writing, check out our course on how to succeed at writing applications. It will help you with many of the essential skills you need to get an interview and secure a new job.
Think about your aims
What is it you hope to achieve with your next job role? It’s a fairly standard interview question, but not always one that’s easy to answer. Thinking about this question in advance can help at all stages of the application process.
Are you simply looking for a role to tide you over? Or is your next step something that’s going to help with your career? Deciding on your aims can help you find the job roles that are most relevant to you. It can also help you plan for the future, and ensure you have a thoughtful answer in the interview.
Account for new ways of working
When you’re preparing to start a new job, it’s important to prepare for the fact that things might be different. Even if it’s a similar role to one you’ve done before, the pandemic has changed many aspects of day-to-day work.
Measures such as social distancing, remote work, and cleaning and managing business premises have all been introduced. Again, it’s a good idea to do your research here and ask lots of questions before you start.
Despite the current social distancing and lockdown measures in place across the world, companies are still hiring. However, the recruitment process looks a little different in many sectors. It’s therefore worth understanding some of the things you might experience when you’re trying to get a job in the new normal.
Phone interviews were fairly common practice before the pandemic, but they’ve become increasingly popular lately. They’re a great first step of the interview process as they can save time filtering out candidates. They also give you the chance to see whether a company or job role is the right fit.
If you’re not so confident talking on the phone, now is the perfect time to practice. You can ask someone you trust to call you for a mock interview. If you’re not sure how your answers sound, you could also try recording yourself and listening back.
When the actual interview comes, make sure you have access to a private and quiet location. If it helps, plug in a headset with a microphone. This can help make sure you can hear what’s being said. By standing up during the interview, you’ll also sound more confident.
Face-to-face interviews seem like they’ll be off the cards for a while at least. However, it’s still important for applicants and interviewers to meet, even if it’s virtually. That’s why video interviews have become so popular lately.
Video conferencing software like Zoom has helped many of us stay in touch during the pandemic. Similarly, companies have been using it to meet and schedule interviews. It can be a more personal experience than just a phone call and gives both parties the chance to gauge whether the job is the right fit.
Many of the rules for phone interviews apply here. You’ll also want to test your tech before you start, making sure your microphone and webcam are working. Dress as you would for a regular interview, smile, and give them your undivided attention. Again, check out our course on how to succeed at interviews for more tips.
Online skills tests
Employers often use skill tests during the application process. They can help identify which applicants are a suitable fit for the role and company ethos. From your point of view, it’s a chance to show off your skills and knowledge.
As it’s unlikely you will be able to go to an assessment centre in person, you’ll find that businesses might use online aptitude tests instead. They come in many different forms and can test one or multiple areas.
Although many of us find tests difficult, it is possible to practice them ahead of time. You’ll find several websites that let you practice all kinds of aptitude tests. So, make sure to find out what kind you’ll be asked to take and get some trial runs in.
Questions to ask
If you do get a job in the new normal, you might find things are a little different, at least for a while. It’s a good idea to get an idea of how the companies you’re applying to have dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Make sure to ask them about what they did when lockdown was introduced, how they protected their employees, and how they’re adhering to social distancing measures. Pay attention to their answers, as it will speak volumes about how they treat their staff.
Employers are always on the lookout for the most talented people to fill their roles. Now is an excellent time to brush up on some of the most sought-after skills, whether it’s general or industry-specific ones.
Certain skills can help kick-start your career progression. Not only are these valued by employers, but they can give you the ability to identify and take opportunities. Some people are naturally good in these key areas, while others have to learn. Thankfully, our course on essential skills for career development can help.
With this course, you’ll explore a variety of areas that can help with your career. This includes things like using vision boards, setting goals, building networks, and dealing with change. It’s worthwhile refreshing these skills when you’re trying to get a job in the new normal.
With the prevalence of online working at the moment, many companies are looking for people with technology skills. For some, this could mean basic computing skills. For others, it might require a bit more in-depth knowledge. Either way, it’s an ideal time to improve on these skills.
You can find a vast range of courses that focus on computer and IT skills. This Data Analytics for Decision Making course focuses on using excel to gather and manage data. It looks at a variety of key principles to help you understand data analytics, and can help show potential employers your knowledge.
If you want to delve even deeper into a similar subject, a microcredential in data analytics for business with Tableau could be the thing. This 12-week course will give you a detailed look at this niche, as well as 15 academic credits.
No matter what kind of job you’re applying for, it’s likely you’ll need to communicate with others. This could be face-to-face (from a responsible distance), over the phone, via email, or by video chat. These communication and interpersonal skills are essential for securing a job, and everyone can learn them.
Of course, some roles require more specialised knowledge of how to communicate with customers. Customer experience professionals focus on building relationships with customers across a variety of channels. If this seems like something you’d be interested in, check out our microcredential Customer Experience and Success Management with Salesforce.
During your research phase, you’ll no doubt highlight a variety of job-specific skills that the position requires. Hopefully, you already have most, if not all, of these. If not, you might want to think about taking a course or qualification to build or refresh your knowledge.
If you’re trying to change careers, a qualification related to that field could be beneficial. For example, with a microcredential, such as this one on cloud computing, you can earn 15 academic credits by studying for 12 weeks.
When you’re trying to get a job in the new normal, it can help to know what employers are looking for. Of course, we’ve just covered some of the key skills that can be useful, but certain talents are particularly relevant in light of the pandemic:
Things are a little all over the place at the moment, in all areas of life. We’re all adjusting to this unusual period, and businesses are no exception. That’s why flexibility is such a valuable trait. Companies want to employ people who are versatile and resilient, who can do their job even when things change unexpectedly.
In the wake of the coronavirus, companies are finding new ways to do business. With new rules, a shift in attitudes, and social distancing, solutions are needed. That’s why innovative people are highly prized at the moment. If you can show that you have creative problem-solving skills, you can stand out to employers.
Although many industries have been hit hard by the pandemic, others have seen a surge in demand. These thriving industries are searching for talented people to join their ranks. So, if you are looking for a job in industries such as healthcare, wellness, eCommerce or cyber security, now could be a good time to get a job in the new normal.
With the unsettled nature of the world right now, businesses are looking for candidates who can come in and hit the ground running. By showing that you’re confident and capable of working under your own initiative, you’re sure to impress. For those looking to step into the world of financial analysis, this microcredential can help with your decision making.
Everything we’ve covered so far is what employers are expecting to see from applicants. So what can make you stand out from the crowd? Here are a few tips:
Know your stuff
If the jobs you’re applying for need a certain level of qualification, it’s likely your CV already shows these off. But it’s the extra bits of knowledge and understanding that can really make you stand out. Do you have relevant experience in related fields? Is your knowledge particularly expansive? Make sure to show this to potential employers.
Show your skills
Just because you know you have a specific skill set doesn’t mean it’s evident to recruiters. It’s important that you demonstrate the skills you have when trying to get a job in the new normal. Whether it’s through something like a portfolio or interview presentation, going the extra mile can grab the attention of the right people.
If you’re trying to break into a new field, it can sometimes be difficult to get a role without experience. Annoyingly, it’s often hard to get experience without a job role first. So, if possible, try and gain some practical know-how in your own time. Whether it’s freelancing, volunteering, or passion projects, it shows motivation and initiative.
With everything going on in the world at the moment, businesses of all kinds are trying to balance multiple priorities. This situation means that things like applications and interviews can often be put aside and forgotten about. Make sure to follow up with the employer if you’ve not heard from them in a while. It shows you’re keen and might just jog their memory.
So, we’ve outlined some of the essentials you need to think about when applying for jobs during COVID-19 and beyond. Evidently, the landscape is a little different now than it was before. And although many of the usual suspects remain, there are new things to consider.
Although there’s a lot to bear in mind, each aspect can help you succeed in finding a new job. If you’re looking for some final inspiration, we’ve outlined some pointers to help you on your mission:
- Do be patient. It might take time for some industries and businesses to get back up to speed. Try not to get too disheartened if the process is taking a while.
- Don’t keep your cover letter the same. When applying for different roles and companies, tailor your application and cover letter to that specific opportunity.
- Do follow up. If you’ve not heard back from a promising lead in a few days, don’t be afraid to drop them a message to keep you front of mind. Similarly, if you have an interview, a message expressing your thanks can be a nice touch.
- Don’t get distracted. The job application process requires attention to detail. Make sure to give yourself the time and environment to make a good job of it.
- Do ask questions. If you do get an interview, be sure to think of some questions in advance. It shows you’ve thought ahead and done your research.
- Don’t limit yourself. If you have career ambitions, don’t tell yourself you can’t achieve them. Keep trying, work hard, and take a relevant course to reach your potential.