As job losses outpace the spread of COVID-19, Canberrans are finding themselves registering with recruitment agencies or applying for JobSeeker Payment in disbelief at their current situation.
Finding work during a time of upheaval and high unemployment is difficult, but not impossible. Recruiters say that to be successful, job seekers need to be both strategic and realistic.
Dean Hill, CEO of recruitment agency Effective People, says, “Many people apply a scattergun approach to looking for work, applying for jobs just for the sake of it. Don’t rush out and apply for everything in the hope you may land something. A more targeted approach would be better.”
Hill recommends starting with a fresh look at your CV and a realistic audit of your skills. “Don’t be fixed on a role or job – be flexible,” he says. “See where your strengths and skills are and what else you may be able to do. But if you don’t have the skills, don’t apply. You will just be wasting your time.”
Once you have your CV in order, Hill says it is important to be flexible with salary and rate expectations. “There is still work in the digital transformation agency, policy areas and defence programs, but it is so competitive out there. The pay rate you would normally ask may not get you work in this current climate. There are three times the number of people being put forward for every job, and people are now discounting their rates to get those jobs.”
More generally, Hill says there is work available in both government and the private sector, where there is new high demand for services. The Department of Social Services and the Australian Tax Office are currently recruiting, as are some sectors of the health industry, transport, supermarkets and cleaning services.
Hill suggests job seekers be prepared to take a temporary step down. “Check your ego,” he says. “You may need to go and get any job you can find. Don’t be shy in applying for a job [that lasts] for a few months. You may have to do that to fill the gap.”
Getting a government security clearance while unemployed or in a temporary job may also be a good way to prepare for when more jobs will be available again. A security clearance usually takes anywhere from four to six months and can be obtained through the Defence Industry Security Program (DISP).
Hill advises speaking to a few recruitment companies, but registering with no more than three. He says the danger of going to more than that is you lose control of your CV.
“It is important to control your CV,” he says. “Understand where your CV is being submitted and for which position. Ask more questions about the role before you give the recruiter permission to submit. If two recruiters put you forward for the same job, employers are likely to see that as a negative as they will think you are not in control of who represents you.”
Hill warns that many recruiters work on commission so they may be more interested in simply filling the position rather than determining what is the best fit for the job seeker.
“The best scenario is that you register with a recruiter and then they get in contact to discuss what you are looking for,” he says. “A good recruiter will try to get as much information about you [as possible] and then try to find you a job. If we don’t have anything on our books that is suitable, we will almost always give our candidates some contacts or direction about where to look.”
Hill says if you are lucky and score an interview, be prepared for it to be conducted online via Zoom or Skype due to current social distancing measures. “Do everything you can to prepare but don’t stress too much about having to do it from home. Everyone is being very tolerant and supportive of disruptions that happen at home. If the kids are at home, it makes it a bit lighter.”
For more information, visit Effective People.