In just a few months, the Australian market completely transformed with job seekers now facing a harsh new reality on the other side of this pandemic.  Most professionals dislike job searching at the best of times, so having it thrust upon them during a period of such great uncertainty only compounds the problem.

Economists have repeatedly warned that a headline unemployment rate of 7.1% isn’t an accurate depiction of what’s going on in the workforce, putting the figure above 11%, but on 13 July 2020, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg revealed that the real unemployment rate is actually 13.3%.

Even if a cure for COVID-19 is discovered tomorrow, the “new normal” has been established and there is no doubt that this will affect your future job search.  These are the new realities that you need to be aware of:

A much higher volume of people will be looking for a job

If you’ve been laid off or stood down, there are no guarantees if or when you’ll be called back to your job. Even if re-employed, it may be part-time, in a different role or at lower pay. Customers/clients may be slow to return, and many professionals will not have the luxury to sit and wait. As a result, they will start job searching rather than wait it out. The market is going to be flooded with candidates in the next few months and employers will be able to take their pick.

Companies are running lean

Organisations are cutting back and reducing budgets where they can. As they learn to increase efficiency, they may realise that they can function effectively with less staff. As a result, it is likely that they won’t rehire as many staff as they had prior to Covid-19.

Salaries have been reduced

It’s an employer’s job market now, and organisations realise they can find a candidate who will work for less, even if you’re an absolute gun and worth the extra pay. Yes, it may be short-sighted, but the odds are in their favour with so many candidates to choose from.  The reality is, that the job seeker market will be incredibly competitive and will remain so long after the pandemic has ended.

Recruiters will rely more heavily on technology to screen candidates

The volume of candidates per application has already increased tenfold across many industries This means that already leaner recruitment teams will simply not have the manpower to review every application. Applicant Tracking Systems (ATSs) have been around for a long time but I predict more companies will need to move to these systems in order to screen the high volume of candidates as quickly as possible.

Candidate care is likely to decrease

Another unfortunate side effect of higher volumes of candidates in the job market is that the level of candidate care is likely to be further reduced.  Recruiters are going to really struggle to review a much higher volume of resumes and to respond to emails and phone calls. Recruiters are extremely busy at the best of times and spend most of their day interviewing candidates or on the phone.  If you don’t hear back from recruiters, please don’t take it personally.  Many recruitment teams have had resources reduced so they will be under more pressure than usual.

So, what does this mean for the job seeker?

In our Relaunch Your Career programs, we talk to career ‘relaunchers’ (clients changing career) about taking the driver seat and using ‘active’ job search strategies to improve their job search success. This is because career changers get eliminated in the early rounds of online recruitment for not fitting “traditional” criteria programmed into the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). Therefore, they simply cannot rely on the traditional job search methods of applying to advertised roles.

So, just as career changers have successfully used these ‘active’ strategies to bypass the online abyss, so will the average jobseeker if they wish to stand out from the crowd.

This is what you will need to do to increase your chance of employment.

Employ active job search strategies instead of passive

Career relaunchers have learned to use a self-directed process, redirecting their energy away from online applications to instead focus on a tailored strategy targeting people and companies directly. They focus less on finding jobs and more on finding people. Identifying key career areas and organisations and then finding a strategy to build connections within that organisation. This is the approach that ALL job seekers need to take in what will be a new reality. If you don’t have a job search strategy to stand out from the pack, then you are stuffed.

Take the time to craft your personal brand

Personal branding is a vital career management tool and will be more important going forward. You must be clear on your personal brand, that is, who you are, what you can offer and what you believe in. You must then weave this value proposition into your elevator pitch, cover letter, resume, LinkedIn profile and interview responses. Candidates who have this clarity will stand out from the average employee and will be more attractive to future hiring managers.

Build mutually beneficial connections

Career ‘relaunchers’ understand the power of mutually beneficial relationships. They look for opportunities to build authentic long-term connections and ensure that their network understands what they can offer to potential employers. They use these networks to gain information about roles that may never be advertised to the general public – the hidden job market.

Ensure your resume is ATS-friendly

Ensure that your resume is ATS compliant (simple format with no fancy graphics and templates) tailored and keyword optimised for your ideal role. This means using language and keywords that reflect the key criteria for the role – soft and hard skills.

Taking the driver’s seat

If you are a job seeker, you simply cannot afford not to change the way you have previously looked for a job. You must take an active job search strategy in what will be the most competitive job market we have faced since 1992. By taking the driver’s seat you will be more competitive as a candidate, it will open up access to the hidden job market and will increase your chances of being referred by a trusted insider.

If you need support with your job search, then contact us at Relaunch Me to discuss how we can help you devise a more active job search strategy.

Relaunch Me has offices in Malvern and Essendon, Melbourne VIC and Brookvale, Sydney NSW. We also provide consultations via Zoom to our international, interstate and rural clients.  Send us a message via the Contact page to organise a session or to have a clarity call with one of our coaches.