It’s a tough time in the jobs market, as firms shed staff or freeze recruitment to cut costs.
suffered the largest drop in employment in more than a decade, with the rate of job vacancies halving in June.
However, some sectors are still hiring, and help is available.
How do I start looking for a new job?
Knowing where to start may be quite daunting, especially if you have been out of the jobs market for a while.
To maximise your chances, one strategy is to create an appealing online profile so that recruiters and companies will approach you, while you also actively apply for jobs.
For example, if you work in retail customer service, this could translate to other people-facing roles such as sales, or a similar role in another sector.
She suggests searching for these core skills online, to see which jobs come up, while also listing them on your own professional profiles.
Recruiters often search for people based on a list of desired skills rather than specific qualities, so this will make you more visible.
How can I find out which jobs are available?
While this will vary from sector to sector, many companies list jobs on their own website or on recruitment sites.
You can also sign up with a general or specialist recruitment agency.
If you want to work for a particular company, check if they hire directly or through a recruiter.
And if you want a specific job, be proactive and contact someone doing that role to discover how they got there.
Professional networks can also be useful. These could be LinkedIn or Facebook groups, or industry and community organisations, where jobs and events are posted and advice is available.
How can I stand out from other applicants?
Friends, family and other acquaintances will know hundreds of people between them, and some should know of businesses which are hiring.
While an introduction won’t automatically get you the job, many employers like a personal recommendation and you may hear about roles before they are advertised.
When compiling your CV, emphasise your skills which a prospective employer wants, rather than listing things you have already done.
List past achievements clearly; for example, that you finished a recent project on time and within budget, or you brought your business new clients.
Asking someone else to read your application before sending it helps spot any spelling or grammatical errors that could mean your CV goes straight in the bin.
Show enthusiasm and give reasons why you want to work for this employer specifically.
Tailor your CV and cover letter for each application, which is time-consuming but more likely to result in a job, suggests Amy Golding, head of technology recruitment firm Opus Talent Solutions.
She adds: ”If you don’t hear back within three days, call them – because that makes it harder for them to ignore you!”
What help is out there?
In the meantime, many universities and other institutions are currently offering free training courses.
Many other platforms offer free online coding tutorials.
Gaining new skills could help you move into a new sector and shows employers you’ve been productive during lockdown.
Which sectors are hiring?
Some parts of the market are seeing continued or increased demand.
Job-seekers should be ”strategic” and target sectors experiencing job shortages as well as those that are growing, says Gerwyn Davies, analyst at human resources body the CIPD.
Tech recruiter Amy suggests applying to companies which are fully digital, regardless of the role you want, as the pandemic has accelerated the shift to online working.
These could be online retail companies like Amazon, which is currently recruiting for 15,000 UK jobs – or tech companies working in education or healthcare.