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What job market trends should job seekers consider in 2021?

Lydia Smith
·Writer, Yahoo Finance UK
·4-min read
Monitor view over a male shoulder, job search title on the screen, close up. Education, business concept photo
January is a popular time to look for a new job, with 17% more job applications started at the beginning of the year on Glassdoor. Photo: Getty

If you’ve spent the holiday period dreading returning to work, you may be considering a change of career.

January is a popular time to look for a new job, with 17% more job applications started at the beginning of the year on Glassdoor.

But this year isn’t like previous years. Finding a new job is never easy, but with the job market flooded as a result of mass redundancies and many businesses pausing their recruitment, landing a new role is likely to be even harder.

Landing a new position is certainly more challenging, but isn’t impossible. If you are braving the job market in 2021, it’s more important than ever to focus on in-demand skills and abilities. So under the current circumstances, what should you be highlighting in your applications?

“We all know COVID-19 is having an enormous impact on the job market. The different tiers, previous redundancies, job insecurity and reduced hiring needs make this January anything but ‘normal’,” says Emma Louise O’Brien a career coach from Renovo — an outplacement and career transition support provider.

“It’s understandable that jobseekers are very anxious. Being armed with the job market changes is essential, though, especially as changes can be supportive to anyone searching for a new role.”

READ MORE: When is the best time to look for a job in 2021?

Artificial Intelligence

In recent years, more companies have turned to AI to remove bias and encourage equality for a fairer recruitment process. As the job market continues to become more competitive, it’s likely AI will play an even greater role to save recruiters and hiring managers time and costs when shortlisting applicants.

“Artificial intelligence will grow in importance during the recruitment process,” O’Brien says. “It is essential your CV is formatted to beat applicant tracking systems to rank higher in search results.”

According to O’Brien, removing graphics and images from your CV and including key words and achievements throughout your resume can help you rank higher.

“Remote interviews will become an important part of the recruitment process too. Jobseekers are likely to experience either a live or pre-recorded video interview, some of which use AI,” she adds.

“Ahead of a video or remote interview, preparation is vital. Familiarise yourself with remote platforms such as Zoom (ZM), Skype and Microsoft Teams (MSFT). Set up a mock interview, record the meeting, time your responses and self-critique. You are less likely to run into technical issues ahead of your next interview too.”

Watch: How To Create The Perfect CV

Digital skills

“In a digital job market, it is not a surprise that companies will also be looking for technical skills as well as experience,” O’Brien says. “If you find yourself looking at roles where you don’t have qualifications or technical abilities, you may need to invest in your professional development.”

There are many companies offering free or reduced prices on training and qualifications including LinkedIn, Google Digital Garage and Coursera. “Getting certified or acquiring new skills shows employers you are taking ownership of your career. You can also add the qualifications or professional training to your CV and to your LinkedIn profile,” she adds.

It’s also important to consider the skills employers are looking for at the moment too. According to a survey of 23,000 people by the recruiting experts Hays, the top five skills which organisations are looking for are communication and interpersonal skills, ability to adapt to change, problem-solving, flexibility and people management skills.

“Professional development is a high priority for employees, particularly as we enter the New Year,” says Simon Winfield, managing director of Hays UK and Ireland. “No longer is it something that’s merely nice to have – employees want it to be a core part of their career and expect their employer to support this.

“For professionals looking for a new role in the New Year, it’s wise to stay ahead of what skills employers are looking for and what skills will help you to get your next job. Consider how you can articulate these in both the application and interview process.”

READ MORE: How to get back into the swing of work at beginning of 2021

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With the UK in a third lockdown, businesses are more likely to enable working from home or elsewhere outside the traditional office. Photo: Getty

Remote and flexible working

With Britain in a third lockdown, businesses are more likely to enable working from home or elsewhere outside the traditional office, which has many advantages for jobseekers.

“Fewer geographic limitations can lead to a broader choice of companies and roles to apply for,” O’Brien says. “Commuting times will reduce or be non-existent, so time and money will be saved, allowing flexibility around working hours and salary requirements.”

O’Brien advises considering the companies you want to work for regardless of location. “Follow them on social media platforms and look at career pages on the company website and be first to hear about new opportunities,” she says.

Watch: The Biggest Job Interview Mistakes