There is no doubt the pandemic has had a massive impact, not least in the job market. Sadly, it’s true that employment levels have fallen, but as we move through 2021 businesses are starting to open and recruit.
The job market is a competitive place, but many employers are creating new jobs as they respond to how the pandemic has affected our lives and habits. So, how do you make yourself stand out when applying?
Your CV is the first introduction, so let’s make this stellar.
If coronavirus has left a bit of an employment gap, think about other experiences. Online events and courses, new skills you’ve learnt or hobbies you’re into. Perhaps you’ve been volunteering or getting involved in charity work. Maybe you’ve been playing a load of rugby with the Uni team. It’s all good skills that can really help your CV stand out.
Write you CV and get someone to review it. Always check for spelling and grammatical mistakes, as it’s a definite ‘no no’ to show errors to potential employers. Try to avoid generic, over-used phrases such as ‘team player’ or ‘passionate’ and think of something more creative. Words such as ‘accountable’ or ‘purpose’ can be good alternatives.
Be fancier than a Word document.
You can jazz up your CV by using free design software such as Canva. If you really feel like it, why not try applying for one job totally left field and see what happens – can you send your CV with a box of cookies?
Make sure you tailor your CV to the company. Do this not only with the content but include the company’s brand colours and use a similar font to theirs – this will subliminally draw the employer’s eye to you.
Keep it short. About two pages is perfect. Leave out long, overwhelming paragraphs of text on your CV, as it won’t be read. Use bullet points, make it visually pleasing and lay it out neatly so everything is aligned. Make your grammar consistent and don’t be afraid to delete experience that isn’t relevant to the position you’re applying.
Include a fabulous personal statement. You can start off by writing a generic statement, but make sure you tailor this to each employer by popping in the odd key phrase. Keep the statement short (again about two pages) and to the point.
Show off skills that make you employable and in your personal statement give example of when you’ve used them. Think about transferable skills (time management, prioritisation, flexibility, going above what was required). Don’t pigeon-hole yourself to one sector: by casting your net out wide the chances of landing your dream job are increased – it’s a numbers game after all!
Lockdown your social media.
Employers may try to find you on Facebook or Insta – do you really want them to see those 4am photos with your mates? Use the privacy settings to make sure strangers only see what you want them to.
Make use of LinkedIn. If you don’t have an account, make one and start connecting. Both employers and recruiters are here, so it’s a good place to be seen. Get a decent headshot to go with this. You can easily take one against a plain background on your phone. Wear smart clothes and don’t pout!
Talk to recruiters. If they don’t have anything immediately, they’ll keep your CV on file and will help you do the leg work.
Be open to opportunities: sometimes your dream job can be in an industry that you’ve never even thought about.
Face to face interviews are unlikely to be the norm for a while so make sure you brush up on tips for online or telephone interviews so you’re comfortable with the process. Practice with someone you feel confident will give you honest feedback and get used to blowing your own trumpet a bit – no need to boast or be over-the-top confident but be sure to put across all your strengths and experience.
If you get an interview but don’t get the job, don’t be disheartened. The more job interviews you do, the more experience of the process you’ll get and understand how you can improve. Interviews will soon become easy, and dare we say, enjoyable!
Whilst the economic crisis may not be over, the future certainly looks more positive. By preparing and presenting yourself in the best way it may just give you an edge over the competition. Know that it’s okay if your next job is not your dream job. Make use of the experience, any experience, as this is something employers love.
University careers services are still operating so make use of any career information and support services that are available to you. Head over to University of Gloucestershire or Hartpury career services and start planning your future – it’s bright and exciting!