Four job search changes and how you can make the most of them

Emma Louise O’Brien from Renovo gives her advice on key job market trends in 2021.

Laptop with CV on it depicting job search


January is typically a good time to search for a new role. More opportunities can become available as companies update their budgets, need new team members to meet sales forecasts and jobs delayed in December get posted. But human nature also says it can be a slow time – decision-makers may be reorganising their workflow after the holiday season and, this year, getting to grips with the upheaval of 2020.

Indeed, Emma Louise O’Brien, a career coach from Renovo, says: “We all know Covid-19 is having an enormous impact on the job market. The lockdowns, different tiers, previous redundancies, job insecurity and reduced hiring needs make this January anything but ‘normal’. It’s understandable that jobseekers are very anxious. Being armed with the job market changes is essential, though, especially as changes can be supportive to anyone searching for a new role.”

Here are the four top job market trends and how to make them work in your favour:

Job Search Change 1: Remote and flexible working

Companies are much more likely to enable working from home or elsewhere outside the traditional office, and with greater flexibility regarding the working day.

For jobseekers this has many advantages. Fewer geographic limitations can lead to a broader choice of companies and roles to apply for. Commuting times will reduce or be non-existent, so time and money will be saved, allowing flexibility around working hours and salary requirements. When returning to work following a career break, maternity or paternity leave, it may be easier to have conversations where flexible working as part of your package may need to be negotiated.

Use your time to consider the companies you want to work for, regardless of location. Follow them on social media platforms and look at career pages on the company website and be first to hear about new opportunities.

To identify roles with flexibility, Boolean search when using job boards. Add the word ‘remote’ or ‘anywhere’ into the location filter or add in keywords such as ‘virtual’ and ‘flexible’.

Job Search Change 2: Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial intelligence will grow in importance during the recruitment process.

With Diversity and Inclusion policies under review, more companies are using AI to ensure equality and remove bias for a fairer recruitment process. As the job market continues to become more competitive, AI saves recruiters and hiring managers extensive time and significant costs when shortlisting.

It is essential your CV is formatted to beat applicant tracking systems to rank higher in search results.

Ensure your CV is in Word, with no graphics or images and includes key words and achievements throughout to rank higher in the shortlisting stage.

Remote interviews will become an important part of the recruitment process too. Jobseekers are likely to experience either a live or pre-recorded video interview, some of which use AI.

Ahead of a video or remote interview, preparation is vital. Familiarise yourself with remote platforms such as Zoom, SKYPE and MS Teams.

Set up a mock interview, record the meeting, time your responses and self-critique. You are less likely to run into technical issues ahead of your next interview too.

Change 3: Company culture

Company culture will be a focus for companies as they emerge from the pandemic.

Companies may be re-evaluating their culture to ensure employees engage with business goals, new working practices and the values that characterise the organisation moving forward.

For new hires, jobseekers are likely to encounter value or strengths-based application forms and interviews during the recruitment process to ensure there is an alignment between the jobseeker, the role and company. A strength-based interview may focus on your behaviour, capabilities and fit, rather than what you can do such as in a competency-based interview.

During your job search, look out for company values within the job specification, company website and across social media platforms.

During the interview expect to discuss strengths, soft skills and values. Personality traits, career aspirations and working styles may be further questioned too.

Strength-based interviewing is centred around positive psychology. If a hiring manager understands your strengths, they can match you to a role that will maximise your strengths leading to higher engagement and performance levels.

Change 4: Digital skills

In a digital job market, it is not a surprise that companies will also be looking for technical skills as well as experience. If you find yourself looking at roles where you don’t have qualifications or technical abilities, you may need to invest in your professional development.

There are many companies offering free or reductions on training and qualifications including:

Getting certified or acquiring new skills shows employers you are taking ownership of your career. You can also add the qualifications or professional training to your CV and to your LinkedIn profile.

*Emma Louise O’Brien is an award-winning career coach from Renovo, a specialist provider of outplacement and career transition support.

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