Research from the Resolution Foundation (available here) shows that the coronavirus-driven unemployment surge is going to have a huge impact on young people, who will all be hitting this job-market at the same time. It’s a perfect storm. If you’re finishing school, and want to head straight into the workplace, here are some things to bear in mind when trying to stand out from the crowd.
To stand out from the crowd in such a crowded market-place, you may need to veer off the beaten path. With numerous big name retailers announcing redundancies, now more than ever you will need to be more selective and focus on areas showing immediate post-lockdown surges in demand. School support staff, hairdressers, DIY stores and delivery/logistics firms are all hiring in volume. It may sound strange, but simply grabbing the first job listing you see might not be your best option. Consider your potential industry long-term. You do not want to be in the same position again a couple of months further down the line if you can help it.
But, even in these post-lockdown boom areas, you may still struggle to get interviews due to a potential over-supply of eager young talent. One way to get ahead of the queue is to speculatively approach companies about opportunities before they are advertised. This is known as the hidden job market and many shrewd people get jobs this way.
The green building sector is an opportune sector for speculative approaches. This is because last week Rishi Sunak (the UK Chancellor or the Exchequer) announced a £2 billion green homes grant, meaning households in the UK will be able to apply for grants of up to £5,000 for green upgrades to their homes.
From September, when this comes into effect, there is likely to be a surge in demand for these green building and home upgrade services. Consequently, now would be the perfect time to be making speculative contact with green home upgrade suppliers in your area BEFORE they start advertising for extra help. Companies that deal in insulation, double glazing, solar panels, draft-proofing and heat pumps are your target market.
Develop a CV and cover letter showing awareness of companies’ business models and potential job opportunities and that pitches you as a great candidate. Reach out to them by whatever means or media possible. Stand out from the crowd in a crowded candidate market-place.
I am a practising HR consultant working with several start-ups on an ongoing and ad-hoc basis in the London and M4 area, and am a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development or CIPD. I am the Director of thecareercafe.co.uk; thecareercafe.co.uk is a resource for start-ups and small business. It includes a blog containing career advice, small business advice articles, HR software reviews, and contains great resources such as HR Productivity Apps.