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Six tips (and one bonus!) for applying to jobs during the COVID-19 lockdown

Since mid-March 2020 there have been some significant changes to the way we work, and even how we approach applying for jobs! Although many companies have paused their hiring processes in order to minimise costs whilst they wait to see what the economic climate will look like after COVID-19, some are still hiring to make sure their workforce can match their yearly business projection. As many of those organisations have instigated remote working, this means that their hiring processes will probably be remote too. Whilst video interviewing was on the rise prior to the outbreak, since then, it has skyrocketed in popularity!

Despite the lockdown and even with some industries and businesses going back to work, it is still a good time to apply for a new job. Many recruitment consultants will still be working and meeting applicants for current or even future roles, plus there will be fewer applicants and your CV and application have a greater chance of standing out from the crowd. Also, those roles that are being advertised right now have a greater chance of being stable well into the future if they are considered essential enough to be filled at a time when many other roles are being furloughed or made redundant.

We have prepared a rundown of the most important things to help you get a good understanding of the current jobs market, and some top tips to help you apply, interview and even accept a job during this period.

A couple of quick considerations when applying for jobs during the Coronavirus outbreak

With the en masse movement towards automation and digitalisation as well as remote working to protect the safety of their staff, it’s safe to say that the world of work may never be the same again – or certainly not for the near future. While many businesses have paused or postponed their hiring during this period, others continue to hire for critical roles and projects to keep business moving forward. With conference technology available, hiring managers and applicants can conduct interviews from the safety of their homes.

However, there will be some new obstacles to the recruitment process and we’ve outlined some considerations to bear in mind whilst you’re researching and applying for jobs:

The effect the virus has had on the labour market 

When conducting your job search, you probably won’t be surprised to see that the amount of jobs being listed on companies’ sites or on the online job boards have decreased significantly since the onset of Covid-19. Whilst there is usually an increase in jobs postings in January with a gradual decrease into the spring months, this has not been the case and the jobs postings have steeply decreased instead. Indeed has reported that since 27th March 2020, jobs postings have reduced by 33% compared to last year.

This means that you will need to widen your search and consider some alternative means of sourcing jobs. Looking at the individual company’s jobs page, online job boards and having a look at what resources staffing agencies currently have will increase your chances of finding a role.

Getting a feel for the company will be a little bit harder 

As many companies have instigated a working from home policy as part of their crisis management scheme, this means that the entire company will have overhauled its priorities and possibly its company culture. Their staff will be working remotely, so the company’s online impression, atmosphere, and persona will have switched to a remote-working one. It is not business as usual as such, so it will be harder to gauge a company’s culture and working atmosphere.

You will still be able to do some research to assess your future team on LinkedIn, but you won’t be able to get an impression of the team dynamic you would normally get from a face-to-face interview. This means it’s a good idea to take special care to try and glean an impression of these things during the phone or video interview. Some helpful questions to do this include:

How would you describe the team and how it currently works together?

What would an average day look for me?

How does the team fit into the company as a whole?

Our six top tips for getting the job during COVID-19 

Whilst there’s no magic potion to ensure you get the job, particularly during these unprecedented times, following these tips should help you make a good impression and be a strong candidate for the job:    

  1. Do your research
    We’ve briefly covered some LinkedIn research you can do to get a feel for your potential team, but you should also research the company extensively. This means looking through its online resources like blogs, news articles or social media, and also having a look at the company’s growth trajectory and history. This will help you build up a bigger picture of how you could contribute to the organisation.
  2. Be vocal
    We mentioned earlier the importance of asking questions to build up a view of the team and get a feel for the company, but when interviewing remotely what you say and how you say it are more important than ever. The social norms that help to build up an impression of someone; a firm handshake, prompt timing and professional dress are blurred or removed by the use of video technology.This means that you need to make sure your communication skills are driving the interviewer’s impression of you. Try to use ‘uh’ and ‘um’ as little as possible, be confident, use examples – and there’s no harm in having a cheat sheet in front of you with a few examples of your experience laid out for easy reference in case you get stuck!
  3. Be presentable
    You may have seen the online memes and jokes about the new concept of office wear in the home – business on top with a shirt, tie and jacket, blouse or suitable top, and a party down below with your pyjama bottoms. But it is still important to appear respectable and formal during a video interview. You’ll feel more prepared for the role if you are fully dressed in neat, clean office attire.You should also try and make sure that your surroundings are interview appropriate. As the interviewer will be able to see a little behind you, it’s probably a good idea to choose a neat and quiet space with no bright or distracting paintings or items in the background. Many video conferencing tools will also now allow you to blur your background.
  4. Ask questions
    These are uncertain times and many companies will have had to change their recruitment process. This could mean you might be waiting longer from a response or feedback on your interview. Ask them what you can expect to make sure you have a rough outline of the process.
  5. Stay in touch
    There has always been some debate about whether or not you should send a follow up email after your interview (personally we think it’s a great way to cement a good impression of you!) but right now it’s more important than ever to stay in touch with the HR person or manager you interviewed with.That’s not to say you should email them every single day chasing for a job offer, but one email a week or every other week will keep you in the forefront of their mind and show your commitment to the role. Remember, it could take longer for the company to officially select the right candidate, so this might involve a level of patience here.
  6. Be flexible when it comes to onboarding
    If you get a job offer whilst the Coronavirus lockdown is still in place, onboarding and the induction processes will be significantly different from the norm. Your line manager will need to show you the main processes by video call and any interaction with your new team will be digital or online. This will make team bonding a little harder and could leave you feeling outside of the loop.However, there are many business communication software that enable you to have a slightly more informal means of communication with your team that will help you get to know them and work together better. Try using the Microsoft Teams’ chat function, Slack or Skype for Business to get to know your team members or ask for support.

And one tip for free:

Check in with a recruiter! 

Recruiters are an excellent source of jobs right now as they have extensive listings on their websites that they have worked hard to source. Recruiters can help you quickly identify which role would be good for you and can broker the process much faster than other application routes.

Recruiters can also help you gauge the atmosphere at an organisation as they will have built a good relationship with them, scoping out the requirements of the role, how that role would interact with the rest of the team and the overall long-term goals of that new hire.

Looking for more handy hints to help you with the job application process or interview preparation during the Coronavirus lockdown? Or if there’s a role on our site that’s caught your eye, our specialist consultants would be happy to guide you through this process at this time. We also have lots more online resources you may find useful.