How Covid-19 has changed the UK job market

The Covid-19 pandemic spelled disaster for businesses and individuals across the globe, with most industries and individuals seeing financial constraints or challenging circumstances. Almost one in 20 people in the UK – 4.9% – are currently unemployed, and the Government Office for Budget Responsibility states that as many as 2.2million British people could be out of work by the end of 2021.

However, the dramatic shift in working practices and projects in the past year has created many new opportunities, for businesses, employees and self-employed professionals alike. Here Generate’s team of payroll and contractor management specialists reveal three major ways that the British employment market has changed after 2020, and how contractors can best drive their career prospects in 2021 and beyond.

3 Ways Covid-19 Has Changed the UK Jobs Market

1. Shift from a Candidate-Short Market to Widening Talent Pools

Whilst rapidly growing globalisation, technological advancements, sustainability targets and the need to compete with emerging markets had all driven competition for the best talent pre-pandemic, the last year has seen a major shift in the balance between employers and jobseekers. Mass redundancies and cancellations of contract projects have mean that hundreds of thousands of jobseekers are all vying for employment prospects during a time of unprecedented economic downturn. In 2021, the average job advertised online will receive at least 250 applications.

The new entrants to the job market are also prepared to compete for positions that are less than ideal. Over 60% of individuals would be willing to take a pay cut or transfer across industries to land a new role, with 53% willing to relocate completely, despite the upheaval caused by Covid-19 and the growing acceptance of remote working. Skills shortages experienced by both public and private sectors are already beginning to reverse, as those out of work utilise the pandemic as a catalyst to retrain or upskill.

Increased competition means that candidates must stand out from the crowd and differentiate their employee offering like never before. A LinkedIn profile and standard CV will no longer be enough: the most successful individuals seeking contract and permanent work will create a truly unique personal brand. To increase your chances of landing an assignment:

2. Types of Roles Needed & Shift in Demand

Covid-19 has accelerated existing trends and created brand new requirements across industries, rapidly altering the types of contract roles that will be most urgently sought in the coming five years:

3. Importance of Soft Skills

Whilst soft skills have been increasingly recognised by employers in the past decade, the pandemic forced businesses to urgently reassess the experience and abilities needed both to manage the current crisis, and drive forward future growth post-Covid.

Character and personal abilities will become ever more important to hiring strategies. Coding tests and references to evidence technical skill level will remain, but will be complemented by simultaneous characteristic and softer skill assessments. Recruiters will establish personality tests such as Myers Briggs and DISC as the norm, and tasks designed to bring out creativity, problem-solving and communication abilities will grow in popularity. When combined with a candidate-rich market, additional testing and personal characteristic considerations could elongate and complicate the hiring process from the candidate point of view.

To establish a positive first impression long before the interview stage, jobseekers can place these skills, which are most in demand in the New Normal, front and centre of their application:

The coming decade will see soft skills and personality play a pivotal role in hiring strategies for both contract and permanent roles alike, as employers increasingly connect personal abilities with project success.

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