How to look for a job in a recession?

According to our Chancellor Rishi Sunak, there is a possibility our economy might shrink by 35 per cent due to the Coronavirus and its impact, with up to two million people in the UK losing their jobs. Being out of work and trying to find a job in a run-of-the-mill recession is tough enough, but doing it as we emerge from a global pandemic could make any would-be job seeker feel a bit panicky.
So we’ve put together a list of do’s and don’ts to help maximise your chances of finding new employment.

Don’t: use the ‘shot-gun’ approach, it doesn’t work:

I’m sure we’ve all tried it at some point – the ‘shot-gun’ approach – blast out your un-customised CV to as many different job boards, online services and job roles as humanly possible and wait for the result. Sound familiar? Well, if this is your strategy, please have a radical re-think. In short, it doesn’t work.

All it does is waste your time. You might feel a momentary sense of satisfaction as you tally up the number of places you’ve sent your CV to, but this feeling will be fleeting as you quickly realise it doesn’t yield anything. If you send out the same CV to every job application you will come across as unfocused and you won’t stand out. So step away from the ‘shot-gun’.

Do:  tailor your CV for each and every role and organisation you are applying to.

You have six seconds to grab the attention of the reader on the other side. Make sure the first thing they see is directly relevant to the job you are applying to. Forget the 6 page CV, you have 2, maximum 3 pages, to cut through the crowd. Remember key words – many large organisations use applicant tracking systems in place, so you need to ensure your CV includes enough key words to get through the tracker.

Don’t be driven by fear:

At the moment we are living in an environment of anxiety and fear. Very few of us have ever had to experience the worry that the Coronavirus has created. Having to find a new job will only increase such feelings, especially if you have mounting financial concerns. If you can, try and put aside your feelings of panic in order to think clearly and plan your job seeking strategy.

Do create a plan:

The aim is to have a clear plan that allows you to focus on short-term and long-term goals. Make sure you are clear on your attributes that make you stand out. If you are aiming to stay in the same industry, focus on key companies you want to target. Companies will be looking for candidates that are interested in them, so do your homework and research the companies you want to work with. Adapt your CV to make sure it is bespoke to each company. This due diligence will make you stand out.

Don’t stick to your industry if the industry is dead.

If your industry is massively impacted by Covid 19, consider broadening your job search outside your industry. But make sure you are highlighting the key transferrable skills and knowledge to the role. Set weekly targets of activity and do it. Then once you’re done, try to relax. You can only do what you can do. By setting a clear plan, sticking to your weekly goals and targets, you are doing the right things and the rest is out of your control.

Do consider growth industries:

You might need to consider stepping away from your career path and seeking out new growth industries. New companies and industries emerge from every recession and this one will be no different. In fact, the current constraints put on our economy will have a profound effect on how a lot of companies will operate in the future. As companies have to pivot and adapt to the current climate they may start to change. Be open to new opportunities, step outside your comfort zone and consider new options.

Don’t lock your search into a traditional 9-5 job role:

No one knows exactly what the job market will look like as we emerge from the Coronavirus pandemic. One thing it has done is made many companies more open to the opportunity of working from home and the need for flexibility in job roles. Rather than be constrained by a traditional 5 days a week, 9-5 format, consider other options. It is likely some companies might be looking for consultants rather than full-time employees. It is worth considering and being open to this as an opportunity. The aim is to be flexible, very flexible.

Do enlist an army of support.

Find those people who are genuinely supportive of you and stay away from the negative ones. The naysayers who say you’ll never get a job in this market. People will get jobs. It may not be easy, but it will come. It may be different in structure to your last role, your last industry, your last title. It may be a permanent position, it may be a contract. The point is to consider all your options.

Don’t wait for the phone to ring.

You’ve got to be proactive in reaching out and building your network. Let people around you know you are looking for a new role, so that they too can keep you in mind if they hear of anything in their network.

Do use Linkedin.

If you’re not on it, get on it. It’s the biggest hub of employment opportunities there is, and the biggest network of hiring managers who can help you get back in the market.

And remember, Life has two rules:

  1. Never quit.
  2. Always remember rule number 1.

Do sign up for Inclusivity’s quarterly newsletter where we share job searching tips and details of any return to work programmes.