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Positive signs emerging for job seekers on road to recovery

Positive signs emerging for job seekers on road to recovery

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If 2020 feels like the toughest year on record, you might be ready for some better news. While COVID-19 has hurt the job market for the past few months, as restrictions begin to ease, job ads on SEEK are slowly starting to return – even for industries hit hardest by the lockdown.

Job ads across the Hospitality & Tourism industry, for example, were up by 185% in the two weeks to the 24th of May compared to the April average. Administration & Office Support recorded a 121% lift over the same period and Education & Training was up by 105%.

Get ready for the competition

The lift in job ads presents some positive news, but if you’re applying for a role your competition may be strong.

“As job ad volumes start to slowly return, applications remain high, making the job seeking process even more competitive than usual,” says Kendra Banks, Managing Director, SEEK ANZ.

It might feel difficult to know how to stand out in a crowded job market, but there are ways you can differentiate yourself from the competition – such as highlighting any leadership experiences you have, using relevant examples in your application and finding your unique selling point. 

And to ensure you have the basics covered, it’s a good idea to get your resume updated and ready to go for any opportunity that may come up. This resume template and this cover letter template can help get you started. While you’re applying for jobs, follow this 7-step application checklist to help you keep things on track.

If you’re searching outside your own industry to find work, looking at the ways you can impress a potential employer in a different industry could be a good place to start.

You can also get more out of your search at the moment by including ‘work from home’ as a location – more employers are now advertising for roles that allow you to work remotely.

What are hospitality employers looking for?

Compass Group is a company that provides catering and support services like cleaning and security to different industries including mining, defence and aged care.

Competition for roles there has been strong since the coronavirus lockdown, but  National Talent & Sourcing Manager Alissa Patoulios, says there are key certain skills and qualities that can help you get across the line.

Patoulis says that while some roles require specific qualifications, on the whole, they look for candidates with strong communication skills, initiative and a positive outlook. These are all transferable skills – those key skills and abilities that you might learn, improve and apply in almost any role.

“If someone is going to go and work on a remote site for 14 days straight, for example, we want them to be down-to-earth, genuine and happy to roll up their sleeves,” she says.

A lift in optimism

Many people have felt uncertain about their work in the future because of the economic fallout from COVID-19. But research conducted by Nature Research for SEEK shows optimism is starting to return.

Nearly two in three (64%) of Australians say they feel optimistic about their future employment. This is slightly up on the 62% in January this year, pre COVID-19 hitting Australia. 

The sense of job security is also on the rise. In January, 66% of workers felt secure in their role and the figure returned to 67% in early May. This is a significant increase from March, when only 56% felt secure.

The lift in optimism and job security may coincide with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, but we’re yet to see a significant change to working conditions. Many people are still working from home or dealing with reduced hours. Work-life balance can be compromised if you’re working from home, so if your return to the workplace is still a while off, it could be worth looking for ways to set healthy boundaries around work.

If your job has been affected by COVID-19, there are resources to help you.

Mental health in the spotlight

COVID-19 and the impacts that have come with it have taken a toll on mental health – it’s been a challenging time for many people. Mental health is now among the top three concerns for workers, according to independent research by Nature and The Lab – and this is largely driven by isolation and economic uncertainty.

“Humans like to fill uncertainty with predictability and solutions and understanding,” says SEEK’s Resident Psychologist, Sabina Read. “But, at a time like this, no one can join the dots with 100 % certainty, because there’s just so much that we don’t know.”

If for you, that uncertainty is around work and you’re worried about losing your job, there are things you can do. Read recommends setting aside time to fully deal with your worry, working out what you can control, and focusing on the things you can. And if you’re experiencing job loss, ways to cope may include committing to self-care, spending some time being productive and recognising it’s not your fault. If your job has been impacted by COVID-19, it could also be a good idea to check out the key resources for help,

The good news is that 78% of workers feel supported by their employer. Companies such as Compass Group have also prioritised the redeployment of workers in the sectors that were worst-hit by COVID-19. “About 2,000 people across our education and our business and industry sectors were stood down, but were able to redeploy 450 of them,” she says. 

The past few months have been tough, but job ad volumes on SEEK are slowly starting to return and as COVID-19 restrictions start to ease things may begin to turn a corner. For now, prioritising your wellbeing and looking at ways to make yourself stand out from the competition are positive actions you can take as the job market finds a road to recovery.

Source: Independent research conducted by Nature on behalf of SEEK. Interviewing 4800 Australians annually. May 2020 results refer to data collected from 4th-17th May 2020

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