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Coronavirus: How to job hunt when businesses aren't hiring

Lydia Smith
·Writer, Yahoo Finance UK
·4-min read
Job search. Unemployed man using laptop searching for vacancies online in internet and taking notes, panorama with copy space
Take this time to refresh your CV and add any achievements or skills you may have forgotten to include, experts say. (Getty)

With the UK under quarantine because of the COVID-19 crisis, businesses are struggling to stay afloat and many of us have faced redundancies or job cuts. It is, to say the least, a difficult time to find a new job, with fewer roles available in a limited selection of industries.

New figures from CV-Library, one of the biggest job search sites in the UK, found a 15% drop in job postings between February and March this year, alongside a 10% drop in applications.

Although it isn’t a great time to be applying for a new job, it isn’t impossible. Some industries are still hiring — and taking on more staff than they were at this time last year.

According to CV-Library, there has been a 98% rise in advertised roles in agriculture, followed by a 17% rise in social care roles and a 2.1% rise in distribution roles. UK supermarkets are hiring to keep up with the increased demand as food stores are still open. In fact, figures show March was busier than Christmas for supermarkets, with sales up almost 21% over the month.

Read more: How to interview someone virtually when working from home

Applicants for delivery drivers or warehouse workers are also in demand at the moment, as lockdown has prompted a surge in home deliveries. Farms are also taking on short-term workers to pick fruit and vegetables, as the combination of Brexit and the coronavirus crisis has led to a shortage of migrant workers who would normally take on the work.

“The deterioration of the UK jobs market is picking up speed, with the sharpest drop so far witnessed at the end of March,” says Jo Cresswell, careers expert at job and recruiting site Glassdoor.

“However, while the number of job openings are shrinking, certain companies are very much still actively hiring — it just might not be for the exact role a job seeker is after. Those looking for jobs right now therefore need to be adaptable and willing to consider a slightly different role or different industry.”

There are several steps you can take to maximise your job hunt during this tricky time.

First, it’s important to take this time to refresh your CV and add any achievements or skills you may have forgotten to include. Make sure the information is relevant to the job you are applying for.

“Make sure your CV is up to date and highlight soft and transferable skills if you’re applying to a different role or industry,” Cresswell says.

It can also help to use your network and make the most of any contacts you have, who may be able to point you in the right direction or even help you find some work. “Email past colleagues and tap up connections on LinkedIn to let them know your situation and see if they are able to make any recommendations for you,” Cresswell adds.

It’s hard to feel motivated and productive at the moment, but if you find yourself with spare time, it might be worth learning a new skill. There are plenty of free online courses to boost your career development, if you want to.

“Take the opportunity from having more free time to learn new skills or strengthen existing ones — for example through online courses — to strengthen your position when applying for a new role,” Cresswell says.

Read more: Why we need to move away from 9-5 work patterns

“If no relevant roles are out there for you right now, consider taking on a temporary role, but one which offers potential to acquire new, complementary skills. Alternatively, a role which has the potential to turn into a permanent job.”

Although a temporary job may feel like a step backwards, it’s worth remembering that most people face an uncertain future — and you aren’t alone. A temporary position provides an income and gives you time to formulate a long-term plan.

Unless a company has explicitly said it has implemented a hiring freeze, don’t be afraid of proactively putting yourself forward for current or future opportunities too. Even if they aren’t taking on employees now, a company may well get in touch later down the line.

“Be clear in your cover letter what you have to offer, why now is a good time to consider you for a role and what your availability is,” Cresswell says. “Create job alerts on Glassdoor in order to get relevant jobs emailed to you as soon as they’re posted. That way you’ll be first in line to apply and get your CV in front of the hiring manager.”