This is a four-part series on how to boost your career during the coronavirus pandemic. We'll be looking at the best-paid professions still hiring, the cities and sectors currently recruiting, the skills to learn to boost your salary and how to get a pay rise in a recession.
In this tough climate of job cuts and salary freezes, the idea of finding a new, better paid job may seem fanciful. Almost half of job vacancies have disappeared since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, data from jobs site Glassdoor show.
But it's still possible: while some companies have scaled back operations, others are hiring and willing to pay top salaries for the right person. So how do you secure a new job during a recession and boost your salary at the same time?
It's all about perseverance
Karen Edwards, 39, managed to secure a role paying around £70,000 a year with an insurance start-up in London while in lockdown. She had successfully applied for a different job at a bank the day before the Government said all non-essential work should stop, causing the first firm to withdraw the offer. “It’s all about perseverance: I kept applying until something worked out,” she said.
Miss Edwards added that although it was harder to read body language over a video call, she had preferred doing her interview remotely: “I felt more relaxed in my own home and had notes beside me in case I needed them.” She also made sure to mention how she had been using her time at home to undertake online courses in psychology and personal development.
Miss Edwards recommended calling on contacts when job hunting. “There are not many roles out there at the moment so personal introductions really help,” she added. She and a few friends who are also looking for work have been holding a weekly video call where they review each another’s CVs and invite other people from their professional networks.
“A few of us have found jobs via the people the others have invited,” Miss Edwards said. “We also introduce each other to recruiters or send job advertisements the others might be interested in.” She found her current job via recruitment firm Redimeer.
Charlotte Williams, 30, also received a job offer in lockdown with a higher salary at Metro Bank at the end of April as a business development director. An employee in her position would typically earn between £50,000 and £80,000 a year.
Miss Williams applied for the role just before lockdown started and said she was very concerned her offer would be withdrawn as a result of the pandemic. “I was almost too nervous to hand my notice in at my previous job but I had calls with my new line manager every day who reassured me that they still needed me,” she said.
Identify the right industry
Joe Wiggins of Glassdoor recommended that job seekers identify the industries that are growing and roles that are in high demand at the moment. Sectors such as healthcare, technology and law, for example, have managed to preserve salaries and weather the storm better than others.
“Don't be afraid to negotiate: pay bands won't have shifted that much in the past few months, so push to get what you deserve,” Mr Wiggins said.
In many sectors, networking is the key to securing a promotion or new job. This avenue has not been entirely cut off by the pandemic. “Many professional organisations offer virtual events which can help you connect with peers and finetune your video communication skills,” he added. “Plus, there are plenty of ways to meet and make new connections via professional networking platforms.”
Impress in your interview
The keys to an impressive virtual interview are generally the same as for a face-to-face one and include good body language, an appropriate outfit and eye contact with the interviewer.
However, Mr Wiggins said, there were other things to think about too, such as positioning yourself in a well-lit, quiet, clean space and testing technology beforehand to avoid mishaps or interruptions.
Another way to impress a potential employer is by showing that you have used lockdown to upskill, for example by undertaking training in data management or learning a new language. A full list of the best paid skills to learn in lockdown can be found here.
Find out how your salary compares to others in your occupation using our salary comparison tool.