Job Seeking During a Pandemic

Another week, another lockdown…. that is certainly how it feels at the moment. Learning to live and adapt to constant change has become part of everyday life. Working as a recruiter throughout these times is certainly challenging. I miss the regular face-to-face contact we previously had with our clients and job seekers, and I look forward to a time when these activities return. However, I am fortunate that through the use of technology we have the ability to perform our role remotely to continue to help businesses create great workplaces.

What we have seen throughout the last 18 months is that due to the impact of COVID the market has become very candidate short. With contributing factors such as the decline of skilled migrants entering the country, the reduced number of working holidaymakers, and general hesitancy from job seekers, there are skill shortages across many industries and levels.

The SEEK Employment Report in June revealed that national job ad volumes have remained high with a 23.7% increase when compared to June 2019*.

Kendra Banks, Managing Director, SEEK ANZ, comments “For the first time since the height of the pandemic we have seen the number of applications per job ad increase by 6.1% month-on-month. However, application numbers per job ad are still close to the lowest that they have been since 2012. In the last few months, we have had between 39 and 42 million visits to our website per month. That tells us that Australians are still viewing job ads, but jobseekers are simply not applying at the same rates as they were pre-COVID 19.

Since the pandemic began, the number of candidates who view a job ad on and then go on to apply for a role has fallen by 10%. We know candidates are being more cautious about moving jobs, as our research shows that two in three say that job security has become more important to them during the pandemic. In addition, 40% remain concerned about their job security, and 31% have held back from changing jobs.”

Based on our own job listings across SEEK (and other job boards), we too have noticed the decline in applications, and in many cases a general hesitancy from job seekers. Common questions/comments we are hearing from job seekers include “Are there many roles available at the moment?”, “There must be a lot of competition out there”, “I’m concerned to look for work because what if we go into another lockdown?”.

As we navigate through the pandemic in our quest to move to a COVID normal life, here are my suggestions for job seekers to consider whilst looking for work to reduce the uncertainty:

  • Clarity: Have clarity on the role you want, know what your strengths are, and define the career path you’d like to take. With significant skills shortages across many industries, companies will be more receptive to a new hire that ticks 70% of the boxes but has the potential to grow and develop the extra 30%.
  • Industry safe: What industries are thriving during COVID? Several of our clients have reported significant increases in sales and revenue through 2020/21. They are not just surviving, but they are thriving. Do your research on what industries are low risk.
  • Network, network, network: With face-to-face networking not possible at the minute, online networking certainly hasn’t slowed down. As SEEK reported, job ads remain high, but applications are low; however, LinkedIn continues to grow as the world’s largest professional network. I would highly recommend researching and following companies on LinkedIn that are of interest to you to increase your understanding of their business. Reach out to connections who may be employed to help you assess whether they are the right company for you to pursue.
  • Ask the questions! I’ve always advised job seekers that the recruitment process is a two-way street. It is your chance to assess a future employer as much as they assess you. Don’t be afraid to ask some specific questions relating to the current climate. How have they handled previous lockdowns? Are staff stood down? Can I work from home? Will flexibility to work from home be offered in the future?
  • Last on/first off: This is one that concerns many job seekers. What we have seen through the pandemic is companies continue to recruit business-critical roles. It’s important to understand why the vacancy exists. In many cases, it’s due to a resignation of a staff member or due to growth in the business, and the appointment is justified. New hires are often needed through this time to further support existing employees, reduce workloads and maintain employee job satisfaction. Don’t be afraid to ask this question during the interview process if this is a factor in your decision-making.
  • Salary expectations: With the current skill shortages, it becomes a supply and demand issue, and as a result, we are seeing salaries driven up. If you are motivated by moving jobs to increase your earning potential, now may be the perfect market to achieve the next step in your career.

If you’d like to discuss the current local job market, the trends we are seeing and how we can assist you to look for work, please feel welcome to contact me on 0427 539 233 for a confidential discussion.

*Lockdowns and restrictions impacted national job ad volumes in July; SEEK saw a 4.1% decline month-on-month (m/m).



Disclaimer: The material contained in this publication is of a general nature only. It is not, nor is intended to be, legal advice. If you wish to act based on the content of this publication, we recommend that you seek professional advice.

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