Is the jobs market as bad as we’re being told?
The economy, both in the UK and globally has seen a marked contraction. Even though the government introduced the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme to protect jobs during lockdown, the effects on employment have been significant.
The statistics are sobering. As of 23rd April, this year there were 3.8m jobs furloughed and 512,000 employers furloughing employees. By early July the number of jobs furloughed had jumped to 9.4m and employers furloughing to 1.1m. More detailed statistics can be found here.
However, this is only part of the story. Company failures and staff rationalisation have caused a spike in the number of people claiming work-related benefits. In May they jumped 23% to 2.8 million, with more applicants for each job. The jobs market is primed to become competitive.
Are the media just playing on the negatives?
There are now positive signs that the job market is starting to rebound. Vacancies on job boards are increasing on an almost daily basis, with some more popular boards – Reed, Totaljobs and Indeed, increasing by thousands of positions each day.
LinkedIn’s live jobs have also seen substantial growth with over 470,000 roles posted in the last month in the UK as of mid-July, showing that there is an appetite to recruit and drive future growth.
So, what does all of this data mean?
Even though the job markets are seeing positive growth and there is a steady increase in the number of new roles available, the sharp rise in unemployment will see fierce competition.
An example of this degree of competition in the job market was experienced by a Birmingham engineering firm who advertised 10 production line jobs and received 15,000 applications…
If you want to be successful in securing your next role, you will need to ensure your CV is top-notch and you are fully prepared for your interview.
How to write a knock-out CV.
Most employers spend just 8 seconds scanning a CV…
8 Seconds is all the time you have to make an impression so your CV doesn’t head to the rejection pile before they’ve even had a chance to meet you and realise you might be the one.
If you’re job hunting, initially, your most important job is to create an eye-catching CV so you don’t get sifted to the bottom of the pile but get that all important interview.
Here’s 10 tips to improve your CV and get you noticed.
- Keep your CV to a maximum of two pages of A4 and keep it interesting and punchy.
- I know it’s easy to do, especially if you’re applying for several jobs, but don’t send them all the same generic CV tailor it for each role. By researching the company and reading the job spec in detail it’ll give a good idea of the skills to highlight. They will appreciate the extra effort you put in.
- Include a personal statement. It might be obvious to you why you’re the perfect candidate but don’t assume they will see that. Use a short personal statement to explain why you are the ideal candidate and the skills and experience you can bring to the role.
- Don’t leave gaps in your CV. Gaps will always raise a red flag and make a potential employer suspicious. If you’ve been out of work, say so and explain how you’ve used that time to improve your skills or employability. Did you do a course or volunteer work? Tell them as your initiative and drive will impress them.
- Whether or not you’re job hunting, keep your CV up to date. Add new skills and responsibilities so they don’t get missed when you need to apply for a new job.
- Proof read your CV carefully for any errors. With the volume of CVs that employers are receiving, don’t give them a reason to reject yours because of an avoidable error.
- Always be honest on your CV regarding dates that you worked for a particular company and with regard to your skills and experience. The last thing you want is to be caught out at an interview or when references are taken and most organisations prefer to see a drive to learn and develop, even where you may be lacking a few skills.
- If you can back up your claims with numbers, do it. Don’t just say you increased sales, but that you increased sales over six months by x%.
- Make your CV look as good as possible. Don’t have large blocks of dense text, leave plenty of white space to improve readability, use bullet points to break up text and keep sentences short.
- If you plan on uploading your CV to an online job site to let recruiters find you, keywords are especially important. Keywords will let the search engine find you based on the keywords you used to highlight your skills. If, for instance, you’re an accountancy candidate you could use keywords like – management accounts, profit and loss or bookkeeping.
What should you do when searching for a job?
If you Google job search advice, you’ll be inundated with results, many with conflicting thoughts on what you should and shouldn’t be doing to help you find your ideal job.
Here’s five tips to help you approach your job search effectively.
- Make sure you have a profile on LinkedIn – over 90% of recruiters use LinkedIn as their primary search tool. Make sure your profile has the keywords in it that match the type of role you want to be found for.
- Use LinkedIn to network with people in companies you’re interested in working for. Comment on their posts intelligently and get yourself noticed for the right reasons.
- When you’re applying for a role, your application will quite often be screened by Applicant Tracking Software before it even gets to a real person. So it’s important that you take the time to ensure that your skills match what they’re looking for so your CV gets to a decision maker.
- Don’t be afraid to apply for roles where you’re not an exact fit. If your core skills are good and you are likable and a quick learner, many companies will be happy to give you some training to fill in any skill gaps you may have.
- Always be courteous and remember they want to employ you as much as you want the job. It’s up to you to make it as easy for them as possible. Be confident, likable and courteous and you’ll likely impress whoever you’re meeting.
How to prepare for job interviews.
You’ve got the interview, job done right, you’ll wing it and rely on your personality to save the day. No!
Having a good interview is as much about preparation as anything else. Research the company, make a list of questions you want to ask, think about the questions they may ask and rehearse how you want to answer them. Being well prepared will take away a lot of your interview nerves and will allow you to enjoy the experience and perform well on the day.
When you’re preparing for your interview, there are several common questions that will invariably be asked. These are softball questions that, if you’re well prepared, will help to give you confidence and get you over your initial nerves.
Q: Why do you want to work here?
This question gives a lot of scope to talk positively about the company, its products and its culture.
A: I’d love the opportunity to work in a company that is dedicated to protecting the environment while manufacturing ground-breaking computer technology and is keen to constantly look for ways to develop their employees.
Q: What interests you about the role?
This question helps them ensure you understand the role and gives you the chance to highlight your relevant skills.
A: I’m passionate about management accounting and the role it has in decision making and I’ve been on advanced courses in the accounting software you use, making me a super user where I currently work.
Q: What are your greatest strengths?
This question lets you talk about your technical and soft skills. Relate them back to the role you’re interviewing for so they can see how your skills could benefit the company.
A: I’m a natural problem solver who loves the challenge of a puzzle. Developing new tech products is about solving problems to ensure customers get the products that they need.
Don’t just focus on your strengths though, the interviewer may also ask you ‘what are your weaknesses?’ if this question comes up, don’t be afraid to be honest about your weaknesses and explain how you overcome these. No one is perfect and they will know that.
Another common type of question are behavioural questions. Interviewers want to know how you behaved in real-world situations, what measurable value you added and how you define a concept like pressure at work which people will define differently.
By using the STAR method to structure your answers it lets you create a deliberate story arc that is easy to follow.
Situation – This tells the interviewer the context of your answer – working on a six-month contract
Task – What your role was in the task – team leader
Action – The action you took – you set up weekly meetings for departments to report progress
Result – what result did your actions lead to – Finished the project on time and under budget
An example of a behavioural question might be:
- Give me an example of a difficult problem you solved. How did you solve this problem?
- Tell me about a mistake you’ve made. How did you handle it?
- Can you tell me about a challenging situation you overcame at work?
- Tell me about a time you learned a new skill. How did you approach it and how did you apply your new knowledge?
In addition to questions you’ll be asked during the interview to assess your suitability for the role, you’ll be given an opportunity to ask questions about the company and the position. Prepare these questions in advance and write them down so you can refer to them at the interview.
Good questions to ask could be:
- What does a typical day look like for a person in this position?
- What are the progression opportunities in the future?
- What would you see as the most challenging aspect of the role?
What else can you do to help get your next job?
Preparation. When there is significant competition for jobs, the successful applicant will be the one who has taken the time to tweak their CV for each job they apply for, researched the company and the interviewers they’ll meet and have a stock of prepared answers to the interview questions they are expecting.
Ultimately, that will be your edge over the competition.