There’s no doubt about it: we’re living in a very strange time. As the COVID-19 pandemic has taken hold, everything has been turned upside down – the way we live, work, socialise, exercise, and even eat. It’s also affecting the way we look for jobs, and the employment market as a whole. Job hunting during Covid-19 is competitive to say the least, so here is my first-hand experience of job hunting during lockdown and a few tips that may help you.
Adjusting to the ‘new normal’ is difficult for everyone, and doubly so if you’re worried about potentially being made redundant. Perhaps you were already job hunting and are wondering if the situation means you need to put your hunt on hold for the time being. Or maybe you’ve been laid off – permanently or temporarily – because your industry has taken a hit and there isn’t the same workload as there once was.
My experience of job hunting during Covid-19
For me, Covid-19 kind of turned things upside down a bit, but in a really positive way. I was working in a digital marketing agency in the SEO team and we began working from home about 2 weeks before the UK government put the lockdown in place. At the beginning of April, a handful of people (myself included) were placed on furlough. Whilst I was a bit anxious about this, there wasn’t much I could do so I made the most of the ‘free time’ and did some online courses and spent more time on this little blog. At the end of April, I was called back to work, still working from home, and it felt great to be back. However, at the end of May I was placed back on furlough and was ultimately made redundant in June.
I really wasn’t expecting to be job hunting during Covid-19 but it happened, and I won’t lie, it was hard. Not only are there fewer jobs out there, but there’s so many people in similar situaions to myself that there could easily be 200+ people applying for one role. It was also quite hard to motivate myself from home if I’m really honest – some days, especially when we had our little heatwave, I just couldn’t bring myself to sit down at my laptop and scroll LinkedIn or Reed for hours on end.
I was fortunate enough to find possibly my dream job during lockdown, and have managed to successfully change my career path and now work in the education sector, something I’ve aspired to since graduating!
Are there vacancies out there right now?
The short answer is, thankfully, yes.
The longer answer is that there are jobs out there, but it seems to be quite sector specific. As you can imagine, supermarkets and delivery companies are overwhelmed and are actively hiring, but some industries such as engineering seem to be struggling. In other areas, hiring may continue more or less as normal – albeit with online interviews, presentations and tests.
See what the reality is in your line of work, and be prepared to look more widely and think outside the box. Speaking of which…
Think outside the box
We’re all thinking about work differently as a result of COVID-19, which has led to widespread shut-downs in some business areas, and the sudden mass normalisation of working from home. This might mean thinking differently about your job prospects too.
If you’re in a secure job but were starting to think about possibly moving on, could you stay put for another six months after all? Obviously this won’t always be possible or wise (people leave jobs for a reason!) but if you can, you might be able to sidestep this problem by simply waiting a little bit longer before making your next career move.
If you’re looking for work out of necessity at the moment, consider thinking more broadly than you would in an ideal world. Obviously, you shouldn’t apply for jobs that would be a terrible fit or make you unhappy, but this is a time where aiming for “it would be okay and I could do it well” is probably more realistic than “dream career.”
But won’t a new career look bad on my CV?
You are so far from the only person in this situation. No reputable employer is going to hold it against you in the future if you have a CV gap or a year of employment outside of your industry industry if the reason is “I lost my job due to Coronavirus.” (And, honestly, for a whole host of other reasons too – people have CV gaps and not directly relevant experience all the time!)
Do what you need to do to survive and, ideally, to thrive. These times are unusual, and therefore we all have to adapt by approaching work in ways that may not perfectly match our pre-Corona plans.
Have you been affected by the pandemic, and found yourself job hunting during Covid-19? Let me know your experiences in the comments!