Recruitment expert shares his top tips for landing a job amid the pandemic

It’s undoubtedly a bleak time in the jobs market, with the economy shrinking in the final quarter of 2020 and the first of 2021, sparked by the initial March lockdown. 

Last week Governor of the Bank of England Andrew Bailey warned Britain’s unemployment rate, believed to be at 4.9 per cent with around 2.2million people already out of work, is actually far worse than official figures suggest.

Many industries including the retail and hospitality sector are fighting hard to survive the ongoing pandemic, and competition for jobs is fierce.

If you’re on the hunt for a new role after losing your job – or simply desperate to get out of your current one – it’s never been more important to ensure you stand out from the crowd.

To help your CV sing and equip you with the skills for those virtual interviews, FEMAIL spoke with Tony Gregg, chief executive at Anthony Gregg Partnerships, a high end recruitment search business placing senior and board level roles across the UK and Europe. 

Tony recruits top retail director talent from the likes of John Lewis, Sainsbury’s, Fortnum & Mason and SCS into their new roles. Here he shares his top tips for bagging your dream job.

If you’re on the hunt for a new role after losing your job – or simply desperate to get out of your current one – it’s never been more important to ensure you stand out from the crowd. Stock image

Sell your lockdown hobbies as skills 

Covid-19 has created gaps in many CVs as employees are laid off or furloughed through no fault of their own. 

If that applies to you then don’t worry: employers will expect this and understand. The worst thing you can do is try and hide the fact as it will only lead to awkward interview questions.

Instead, make a feature of what you did during this enforced break – did you do some volunteering, home schooling or learn a new skill? 

Employers are always impressed by people committed to their own self-development. You should also use the time to sharpen up your CV and boost your online profile. The worst thing you can do during a period out of work is to turn your light off and retreat from the world. 

Tony Gregg, pictured, is chief executive at Anthony Gregg Partnerships, a high end recruitment search business

Tony Gregg, pictured, is chief executive at Anthony Gregg Partnerships, a high end recruitment search business

Maintain a strong online profile

Your online profile is your own personal shop window. How you present yourself on platforms like LinkedIn can make or break your chances of getting an interview. 

Make sure your profile picture is professional and taken recently. It may sound obvious but I regularly meet people with 15-year old profile pictures taken in a sun-drenched Greek taverna! 

Join professional networks in order to build your connections in relevant sectors and professions. 

Don’t use them purely for self-promotion: share interesting articles and make considered comments about other people’s posts. The more active you are the higher your profile will display on search pages.

Highlight your transferrable skills 

If your industry has been decimated by the pandemic there will always be opportunities in other sectors. 

Stop! Are you making the right choice?

Before you trade your secure job for the thrill of a new challenge ask yourself: ‘Do I really want to leave?’

When we go on holiday we plan our trip well in advance and pack the car before we set off. So why do so few of us do this with our careers? 

Be honest with yourself about what your motivation is for leaving. Is there a problem with your boss and if so is the situation rescuable? 

If you find the work unfulfilling can you seek new responsibilities or improve your own skills? Self-development through things like online learning can put you in pole position for a promotion and will impress prospective employers if you do decide to leave. 

Once you’ve taken the decision to move on stick to it. Don’t let your boss change your mind – your relationship will never be the same again.

If you do decide to move, it is vital you do your homework on a potential employer so you can judge whether they stand a good chance of being around this time next year and long into the future. 

The retail, leisure, travel and hospitality sectors have been among the hardest hit by Covid-19. Company finances are in a desperate state and we still don’t know when businesses will be able to fully reopen. 

How do their finances look? Is their business model fit for the digital age? Do you have connections within the company you can talk to before you apply for the role? The last thing you want is to join a business whose future is insecure and where job cuts are likely.

Think about the skills you have that are transferable; front of house skills, for instance, transfer easily into other consumer-facing roles like telesales. 

Think carefully about the environment you like to work in. If you’ve left a job in a busy restaurant then the fast-pace of grocery retail could be a great fit, but a job at a luxury jewellers, where you may serve just one or two customers at day, could leave you bored and frustrated. 

Tech skills are also highly transferable between different industries. Some employers even prefer to recruit people from outside their sector who can bring a fresh perspective and new ideas to the business.

Be a digital master

The pandemic has meant interviews and assessments are increasingly taking place online. 

For some people this may be a source of relief – there are few more nerve-wracking experiences than being interviewed by a roomful of executives. But that doesn’t mean you should relax or fail to prepare. 

Ask friends and family to help you practice doing video calls on conferencing tools like Zoom. 

Dress as though you are meeting the interviewer face-to-face. Look at the camera, speak slowly and clearly, and engage with the interviewer through your body language. 

Finally, set yourself up in place where you know the WiFi signal is strong. If your connection fails you might not get a second chance! 

Choose quality over quantity

There will be a temptation, particularly among those recently unemployed, to apply for as many positions as possible.

My advice is that quality always wins out over quantity. 

In many cases recruiters will be receiving hundreds of applications for a single role. As an applicant you need to show why you are right for that specific role in that particular organisation. 

A standard cut and paste application will not cut it in the current climate. Study the job spec and tailor each CV and cover letter to fit. 

List your most relevant skills and experiences first – busy recruiters will look at each application for a matter of seconds. 

Your number one priority is to instantly stand out from the crowd.

Stay healthy

Social restrictions combined with miserable weather make the perfect recipe for staying indoors and doing nothing. From a job hunting perspective, however, this would be a mistake. 

The saying ‘healthy body, healthy mind’ is absolutely right. Interviewers, even online, will be able to detect signs of lethargy or a lack of alertness among interviewees. 

Drink lots of water – staying hydrated helps your brain stay alert. 

Try and get out for one piece of exercise a day, even if it’s just a walk along the street or a few laps around the garden. 

Set aside a regular time each day to look for listings and write applications – then make sure you take time to switch off. 

For more information about Tony and his work, visit anthonygregg.com/ 

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