I have spent the best part of today chatting to final year students from the Faculty of Science (I mean it when I say, it has been the highlight of my day). A common theme in all the conversations has been the uncertainty around the job market. I know job hunting and embarking on your graduate career is stressful at the best of times let alone right now when the world in general seems to have turned upside down. The one clear message from graduate recruiters (tune in to ISE podcasts for lots of valuable advice), “don’t go to a place of fear and stop applying for jobs”. This happened during the 2008/09 financial crises and believe me employers were reporting unfilled graduate vacancies. I therefore wanted to share my tips around job hunting during a pandemic.
- Think in ‘sectors’ – LinkedIn have been monitoring the effects on job postings in the UK and have split industries into 3 categories: “responding”, “weathering” and “adversely impacted”. I have used these headings to share with you how I think different sectors have been impacted. Please note these insights could be obsolete as they are dependent on government policy and how the lifting of the lockdown pans out. Do however, utilise websites such as Prospects to research different sectors and vacancy sources.
• Responding: Healthcare, Public Services, Life Sciences, Pharma’s, Technology and Retail (FMCG and Supermarkets). Remember, these sectors will have business as well as specialist roles. Make sure you have a look at MyFuture for vacancies and sector specific guides which also contain key job-hunting websites.
• Weathering: Manufacturing, Construction, Telecoms, Charities, Third Sector, Finance, Banking and Professional Services. By ‘weathering’ I mean they have seen a small-scale impact such as postponing hiring however, we hope things will stabilise.
• Adversely impacted: Print journalism and SME’s (seem harder hit and we don’t know yet how they’ll respond). The Centre for Cities have produced an interesting analyses which is worth a read.
- Short term and long-term strategy – The government yesterday announced workers in certain sectors could return to work. The approach in the UK and other countries affected by COVID-19 is to lift the lockdown in small tentative steps. Therefore, when it comes to planning your job search, you may want to have a short-term strategy where you actively look for roles in sectors that are ‘responding’ and ‘weathering’. Focus on developing transferable skills that will allow you to pursue your longer-term goal of getting into a particular company, role or industry. It is important to be flexible and remember where you end up right after graduation doesn’t have to be where you live forever.
- Nothing to lose by asking – did you do a placement or internship as an undergraduate? If yes, then drop your manager a line and ask if they are recruiting – even if it is a temporary or fixed term contract. Likewise, if you find yourself in a position where you had a job offer which has been withdrawn, ask HR whether there are opportunities in other parts of the business. Emphasise you are willing to learn and to get stuck-in.
- Adopt a multi-channel approach – don’t rely on the same types of job searches or limit yourself to graduate schemes only. My colleague wrote an excellent blog post on conducting careers research without using google. Reach out to your network, contact recruitment agencies and use job sites such as GradCracker and Graduate Recruitment Bureau.
- Update your skillset – this could be a good time to focus on yourself and learn something new or develop an existing skill, so it becomes a valuable addition to your CV. Check out Coursera, Futurelearn and EdEx and tap into MOOC’s ranging from business to data science to understanding pandemics. I recently discovered Kanopy which is described as an ‘academic Netflix’ with over 30,000 hours of documentaries and films. Technical aptitude often features in the list of employability skills – be it Excel or learning to code.
Lastly, use this time to reflect and look inwards. For example, if stress is something you’ve struggled with, perhaps consider learning meditation or discover new tools that can help you manage your mental wellbeing. I recently completed Berkley's EdEx course on The Science of Happiness which explored positive psychology techniques. Afterall, wellness really matters especially if you want to have a fulfilling graduate career
And don't, forget we are here for you in Careers 🙂