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What To Expect in 2021 – Job Seeking In The New Normal.

It goes without saying that 2021 is already tracking to be a year of real long term change in the employment market.

A lot of the changes brought in last year to deal with the pandemic were considered short term, necessary and in many cases, legally obligatory – however, many of the changes brought in by companies seeking to mitigate the damage done by COVID-19 are panning out to be good for business, good for opportunity and good for employee health and wellbeing.

The pandemic is generationally defining for employee expectations, and HR teams know this – job seekers have been prepared and empowered by the pandemic to ask searching questions about everything from health and safety to remote working, questions that would not have been considered do-or-die in the interview process before 2020. Now, they’re essential in understanding an employers’ work place culture, policy and protection for staff.

But that’s not all that’s changed, and it’s vital for the job seeker of 2021 to know where demand is for their particular skill set, which areas are showing growth, what new skills and requirements do candidates need to have to beat the competition and how you can use this knowledge to stay ahead of the market.

What sectors are hiring:

  • The best way to approach finding a new role is to be strategic – look at where talent is needed the most, approach with candour and be honest about how you can best help a company meet future challenges.
  • Demand for Healthcare talent has risen exponentially: Nurses, mental health professionals, learning disability staff and community nursing in particular were already showing signs of hiring strain: COVID-19 has made staff shortages critical. To fully recover from the pandemic, the government says it needs to hire 50,000 new nurses.
  • With 80% of employers saying they’ve increased automation, it goes without saying that the Tech sector, from cloud computing specialists to e-commerce experts, are in high demand as the nation and the world heavily digitises in the wake of COVID-19, and “61% of businesses felt they lacked the ability to cope with the pandemic demands due to a lack of leadership, management and digital skills”.
  • Other sectors such as education, manufacturing, and temporary retail and grocery work are still in demand, and a full list of sectors with staff shortages can be found here.

What skills and characteristics are employers looking for?

  • Soft skills have always been a healthy addition to a job seekers repertoire: now, they’re essential to your hiring success.
  • The beauty of soft skills is in their ubiquitousness: every role you’ve ever worked in will contain the need to apply soft skills, from showing empathy to team building, collaboration and dealing with disputes. Every role at every level needs them, from your ability to actively listen and apply learning as an intern to a CEO dealing with disciplinary issues, soft skills, how you communicate them and how you display them, make all the difference.
  • Soft skills play a huge part in a candidate’s ability to be agile: the ability to understand and apply yourself in roles with numerous responsibilities. Workplace agility is a sign of your ability to learn and adapt, which is critical after the effects of the pandemic are still being felt.
  • Brands are also increasingly looking to their staff to embody their approach to corporate social responsibility; stakeholders in companies are expected to embody their corporate citizenship, and work with their employer on any range of social, environmental or economic policies within their role in the course of a project. Simply research the company before you apply for a role, seek their CSR guidelines (if they have them) and find a way of incorporating their outreach into your application. It can be as subtle as simply discussing how you could help in a cover letter: you’ve acknowledged it and want to be a part of it.

How are hiring managers finding staff and how can I be more visible?

  • Job seeking can be a hard slog, and it will only get harder as the recruitment market turns client-led. However, there are a few key things you can do to make yourself more visible and accessible.
  • Recruiters – recruiters are your third eye on the job market, and as the tip of the spear for so many companies seeking staff, they will be on hand to suggest great client approaches, CV advice, interview tips and of course a full recruiting service. They’re partners in your job search!
  • Social Media – increasingly, employers are leaning on social media to seek staff: from employee referrals being easier to the creativeness of instagram to show off your portfolio, social media is now one of, if not the, first place a brand will go to find new employees. Take advantage of it: brands will often post opportunities on their social media channels first, to take stock of their brand following and attract talent, prior to approaching job’s boards or even recruiters.
  • In an old blog we’ve discussed how keeping track of your social media and making sure you’ve made public only those bits of content you want people (and employers) to see! Everyone is entitled to safe, and private social media channels, but it is now a vital part of vetting staff!

Every working sector confronted a generationally defining challenge in dealing with COVID-19 and eagle-eyed employers, HR teams and recruiters will already have seen shifts in the market and job seekers across the country – make sure you’re head of the game!

by Jack Spurway
(Jack is a a freelance writer from the sunny South West of the UK: a fastidious communicator and passionate customer-focussed writer and marketer who works across the events, recruitment and hospitality industries.)