Worried about work? Let the lockdown future-proof your employment potential!

With the national lockdown in place, there’s a definite sense of déjà vu (or maybe Groundhog Day?) to how the year has started, but now that the vaccines are beginning to roll-out we’re feeling optimistic for the coming months. We hope you are too. Whatever happens, you can rest assured we’ll always be here to supply you with exceptional hospitality and property team members hand-picked to make your business a success.

Now we’ve said that, let’s look at the grim findings recently released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and discuss a few ways you can turn them to the positive.

According to the ONS, the number of UK workers on payrolls plummeted by 819,000 between February and November 2020 thanks to the pandemic. It’s important to note the employment fall was across all industries, not just the hospitality sector. However, our recruitment trade body, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), did recognise the hospitality industry was hit especially hard.

Although work opportunities might seem scarce, Kate Shoesmith, REC’s deputy chief executive, noted a muted silver lining. “If you’ve been working in hospitality, the likelihood is that you have really good customer service skills. Many, many businesses are looking for people who have that sort of transferability,” she said. The REC’s chief executive Neil Carberry even added that some sectors, like the food industry, logistics and IT, are struggling to fill vacancies.

Here’s what we’d like you to think about:

If you’re currently in the unfortunate position of being out of work, please stay positive. These are challenging and sometimes scary times, but you’re not alone. In fact, in the time-honoured tradition of turning lemons into lemonade, this is the opportunity to rethink your goals, improve your skills, and get ready to rejoin the employment wagon when the UK-wide lockdown is lifted.

Give yourself a skills audit

What transferrable skills do you have? Ms Shoesmith is correct; if you’re a hospitality employee who has lost your job due to the pandemic, you’ve probably got more invaluable customer service skills than you realise. Think about that carefully and look back over what you’ve learned from all your past jobs. Don’t forget ‘satellite’ skills you may have picked up from working in hospitality, like team management and IT capabilities. Don’t overlook your sales and negotiation skills, either. It’s easy to take all these qualities for granted when you use them every day, but they’re the sort of talents all employers look for that will set you apart from the crowd.

Look for temporary work in another area

This is another advantage that hospitality employees have over workers in other industries. We don’t find the idea of temporary work as off-putting because most of us are used to changing jobs and venues quite regularly. So, until hospitality gets back on its feet, why not think about temporarily trying something different? Don’t forget; we’ve often got a wide range of temporary positions in areas you might never have considered – reception, administration, housekeeping, and cleaning to name just a few. You may even discover you enjoy the temporary role so much that it leads you into a new career.

Take this opportunity to develop new skills

Kate Shoesmith says, “If you use your time effectively (to gain new skills), it tells the employer something about you, that you’ve sought to improve and learned new things in this time.”

In our long experience of what impresses employers most, we couldn’t agree more. At times like this, it’s easy to get in a rut and feel demotivated but making an effort to acquire a new skill or qualification will underline your proactiveness and adaptability. Those are the kinds of qualities all post-lockdown employers will be looking for.

Udemy is an excellent online training site, offering 130,000 different courses to help you expand your career opportunities. Even if you’re in work, it’s a fabulous place to learn new skills and fit your learning around your schedule.

The National Careers Service offers a selection of free online courses. Their providers include Google, Amazon, The Open University, and FutureLearn.

Finally, the UK government site contains a wealth of useful information, including training and apprenticeships, and links to funding which could help with your learning costs.

Polish your CV

Take a close look at your CV to be sure you’re promoting yourself and your abilities as effectively as you can. Make sure it is up to date, concise and easy to read, formatted correctly, and preferably no longer than two A4 pages. Check for spelling mistakes and delete any unnecessary personal information. Also, be sure that any important information relevant to the job you’re applying for isn’t buried. One of our biggest recommendations is, please, never send out a generic ‘one size fits all’ CV because recruiters and employers will be able to tell. It’s well worth taking the time to tailor your CV as closely as possible to the vacancy, and even do a bit of research about the employer beforehand so you know exactly what they’re looking for.

Get comfortable with online interviews

Interviewing prospective candidates over platforms like Zoom and Skype is an increasingly popular recruitment strategy. For obvious reasons, it’s the tool that most employers and recruiters have used since the start of the pandemic.

Online interviews can be tricky because there are a lot of technical and environmental factors to consider and being interviewed in their own home can sometimes make candidates feel a little bit too relaxed and informal. When you have an online interview planned, make sure you prepare thoroughly, just as you would if you were being interviewed at the employers’ office. Don’t go so far as dress up in your smartest interview clothing because that will feel like overkill and probably be a bit uncomfortable for everybody, but don’t be too casual either. Make sure you’re in a room where you won’t be interrupted, or distracted by noise, sit comfortably with your face fully visible, and check that all your technology (camera, audio and internet connection) works before the interview begins.

Stay healthy

Being unemployed can have a massive impact on our mental health. Being unemployed and trapped in a lockdown can be the equivalent of a mental health ‘perfect storm’. Rosie Weatherley, from the mental health charity Mind, says “that the nation is facing a ‘mental health pandemic’ (and) it’s clear that our mental health is deteriorating across the board.”

If this is something you’re concerned about, Mind’s website offers a vast range of information and support, including links to helplines and advice about everyday living:

Rethink Mental Health is another useful source of information. Although Rethink was originally formed fifty years ago with a focus on people living with schizophrenia, they have a comprehensive advice section covering all types of mental health concerns.

The NHS has a long list of mental health charities and other support services where you can access free help, as well as a lot of additional important information.

Please don’t forget to look after yourself as carefully as possible: eat a balanced diet, stay hydrated, get good quality sleep, and aim to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. A lot of people we know find regular meditation beneficial as well. If you’ve never tried meditating before it will probably feel strange to begin with but keep persevering and you’ll soon start to notice the benefits. Just as important as any of that, be kind to yourself and make sure you take time to relax and de-stress.

Employers – reach out to your furloughed employees

Finally, if you’re an employer whose team members are on furlough (there are approximately 9.9 million UK workers currently on the furlough scheme), remember there’s still a lot you can do to make life easier for everybody. It’s all about maintaining good communication.

  • Actively engage with your furloughed employees through phone calls, video calls, and emails.
  • Keep them up to date with what’s happening. If you’re planning to bring them back to work, don’t spring the news on them at the last moment.
  • Let them know how valuable they are and how much their contribution is missed.
  • Ask them how they’re feeling and find out what concerns they have.
  • Be understanding and show empathy. When they know you’re doing everything you can to make their return easier, they’ll come back with an even greater appreciation for you as an employer.

Despite the national lockdown, we’re continuing to provide first-class temporary, medium and long-term staffing solution to our clients who are still able to operate in the hospitality, accommodation, and facilities management sectors. To find out more, give our friendly, expert team a call on 020 7580 4398 or email info@primerec.co.uk.

Stay safe and we’re looking forward to seeing you very soon.