- ONS figures show there are 342,000 fewer jobs from March to May 2020
- Jobseekers under pressure due to increased competition for fewer jobs
- Experts share tips on standing out from the crowd during your job search
As Britain slowly eases out of lockdown, there is pressure on jobseekers to make a good impression – this is likely to be on interviews conducted online amid increased competition for fewer jobs.
Early indicators suggest that last month, the number of employees on payroll fell by more than 600,000 compared with March, according to the Office for National Statistics.
It also shows that the that the UK has experienced the largest quarterly decrease in vacancies with 342,000 fewer jobs in March to May 2020 than in the previous quarter and 365,000 fewer than the year before.
While competition will be tough, it is possible to get hired in this difficult environment and experts have given their top tips to give yourself the best chance of succeeding.
You will have to be prepared to make adjustments to the way in which you apply for roles to stand out from the crowd.
Darain Faraz, careers expert at business network website LinkedIn, says: ‘Many people may be feeling disheartened given the current circumstances, but our data shows that companies are still hiring – albeit with some differences to the recruitment process.
‘Things we previously took for granted, like looking someone in the eye or shaking a hand at the end of an interview are now not possible, but there are still lots of ways to stand out from the crowd and ace a virtual meeting.’
If you’re job hunting or have landed a Zoom interview here are some tips and tricks you can use to help try and land that job:
- Identify growth industries and specialisations
A company that’s expanding and looking for investment is more likely to hire than introduce recruitment freezes.
Joe Wiggins, job search expert at Glassdoor, says: ‘Look for companies with growing revenues and maybe even start-ups that have successfully undertaken new financing rounds.’
Amanda Augustine, career expert for TopCV, adds job hunters should consider businesses that have had to ramp-up hiring to meet current Covid-19 related demands.
She says: ‘Many of these national brands, such as Amazon, DPD and Kingfisher (who own B&Q and Screwfix), are looking to fill positions around the world.’
Recently, we looked at six sectors proving resilient in the face of the pandemic – and revealed expert tips to picking a potential new career.
These include: teaching and tutoring, medical and social care, and exercise coaching.
2. Leverage your network
Around 50 per cent of open positions are never publicly published, according to TopCV.
Amanda says: ‘Thanks to modern technology, it’s easier than ever to network and conduct informational interviews from the safety of your flat.
‘You can message existing and potential networking contacts via social media platforms such as LinkedIn or Twitter, engage with new people in virtual career expos and other industry events and email, text, video conference, or call your contacts to ask for help with your search.’
This will help expand your search: you might need to get pro-acctive in this new extra-competitive market.
3. Improve your CV, cover letter and LinkedIn profile
James Innes, founder of the James Innes Group and author of several best-selling career books, says: ‘Getting your CV, cover letter and LinkedIn profile right can be the difference between getting your foot in the door for an interview or remaining adrift.’
Innes recommends tailoring your CV for the position you’re targeting.
He explains: ‘Most recruiters use applicant tracking systems to do the initial screening of the hundreds of CVs they receive for each advertised job so incorporating the keywords that they are looking for in your CV is vital.’
These keywords are likely to be matched to the job description – this means it’s important not to just punt out the same CV for every role you apply for.
It is also vital that your CV is completely up to date. James adds: ‘This includes details of what you have been up to during lockdown.’
Things to include could be skills learnt and volunteer roles.
4. Check your technology
If you’ve secured a virtual interview on a platform such as Zoom the typical interview rules, such as getting dressed appropriately, still apply.
But there is more you can do to ensure that the process runs smoothly.
James says: ‘You need to make sure that your technology does what you need it to do before the interview.
‘Positioning of the camera and angle of lighting can make a huge difference, so it is really important to make sure that these present you in the most flattering way possible!’
Reduce the likelihood for any interruptions.
James adds: ‘Just as being interrupted by kids or animals can be somewhat distracting during the interview, a mobile phone ringing or an errant Echo device thinking that you said ‘Alexa’ when you were just saying the name of the recruiter, Alex, can all have the same effect.
‘Double check that any technology not required for the virtual interview is switched off.’
Don’t speak to your potential employer in bed: here are eight more secrets to nailing a conference call interview.
5. Set the scene
James points out that one of the advantages of the virtual interview is that you can control your environment.
He advises: ‘Choose a room that you are comfortable in – not your bedroom as it’s far too personal and intrusive – make sure you remove any clutter from the view of the recruiter and ensure that there is no way you will be interrupted by children or pets.’
6. Should you be more adventurous to get noticed?
In a post-Covid world, preparation and research is key for a successful interview and landing the ideal role.
However, when it comes to CV design, you may feel tempted to try quirkier methods to stand out but James cautions against this.
‘When it comes to CVs I do generally caution against “quirky”. It’s a high-risk strategy and it can work – but, on balance, I think it’s more likely to fail.
‘You do want to stand out – but for the right reasons, not the wrong ones. An exception to this is a creative field, for example, architecture or graphic design.’
How can you gauge if your interview went well or not?
If you’re unsure where you stand after the interview concludes, consider these tell-tale signs that you didn’t ace it:
Your interview is cut short
Amanda says: ‘your video interview was expected to last an hour, but the recruiter dismisses you after the first 20 minutes, chances are you won’t hear back from the organisation.
The interviewer keeps emphasising the qualification you don’t have
Amanda says: ‘If the interviewer continues to mention the importance of a skill you either don’t possess or have little experience in, then it could be an indication the employer is looking for a different candidate profile.
There’s no talk about your availability
Amanda explains: ‘If the recruiter can’t give you a sense of when they’ll follow up or mentions repeatedly that they plan to ‘interview many others’ for the role before making a decision, this may be a sign that you’re not a top contender.
Trust your gut
Your instinct about how the interview went are often correct. James says: ‘If you are left with a bad feeling or feelings of anxiety, it may be that you didn’t perform your best.