Thinking of a career change? Tips for job hunting in the coronavirus era

Although there is widespread uncertainty at the moment, this doesn’t mean that you need to put your future career plans on hold. With employers still hiring accountants, it’s worth being open-minded to new opportunities and forging ahead with your career ambitions.

However, conducting your job search in the wake of coronavirus is certainly a unique situation. You might be wondering how your profession has changed since the pandemic begun and how you can ensure your CV reflects this – so are four things I recommend keeping in mind as you head into your job hunt.

Change management will stand out to employers

Organisations have had no choice but to act with extraordinary agility to the Covid-19 crisis. Many accounting practices have moved entirely remotely, some practically overnight.

This will undoubtably have been a steep learning curve, bringing the importance of change management skills to the spotlight. As a result, many employers have a newfound appreciation for staff who have change management experience or simply show the right mindset to adapt to change quickly.

If you have experience of adapting your own working practices quickly and successfully in response to challenging circumstances – especially if this involves implementing new technology or systems – then highlight this on your CV. It is very relevant experience considering the situation and demonstrates your ability to respond well to change.

If you don’t have this experience, you can still emphasise certain soft skills which indicate that you are someone who has the right attitude to deal with change. These include:

  • Flexibility
  • Adaptability
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Proactivity

Highlight any recently acquired skills

A silver lining for some since the advent of lockdown has been additional free time, which provides the perfect opportunity to refresh your CV with some new skills and boost your employability.

If you have acquired some new expertise, add this to the relevant section of your CV and mention that you have upskilled yourself – this will show that you’re productive, motivated and take your development seriously. 

If you haven’t known where to start when it comes to upskilling, here are some suggestions which have the dual merit of being in demand and easy to learn from home:

  • Coding: the infiltration of new technologies into jobs at every level means that digital skills are everincreasingly under the spotlight, and so a great place to look at honing your skills could be coding, with Codeacademy an excellent place to start.
  • Data analytics: Alternatively, if you’re looking to master Google Analytics, then Google’s Analytics Academy should help you get a handle on how to grow business through intelligent data collection and analysis.
  • Writing: OpenLearn, the Open University’s free learning arm, can help you brush up on your writing skills.

Get some advice from a mentor

When it comes to making a career move and revising your CV, the help of an expert goes a long way. Get in touch with your career mentor or recruitment consultant, who will be able to advise you on the skills you should try to capitalise on, which skills are most in-demand and which are most likely to be emerging amidst the current challenges.   

They will also be able to give you interview coaching and advice about how to frame your experience against the current job landscape. While it’s unlikely you’ll be quizzed by a potential employer about anything Covid-19 related, being clued up on the situation will help you target your job search and know what to do in order to stand out to employers.

Keep an open mind

The long-term reality of the Covid-19 crisis may mean that we see surges in demand, industry shifts and emerging trends that have a sustained impact on not just the job market, but the world at large. Demonstrating flexibility and openness to new opportunities on your CV may well pay dividends, and lead you to gain experience in an area that you might not have otherwise, and discover strengths you didn’t realise you had.

Whilst technical ability has always and will continue to be important, remember that soft skills emerge time and time again as a key priority for prospective employers. Showcasing these on your CV by highlighting relevant experience and examples of times you’ve demonstrated excellent communication, emotional intelligence and willingness to learn will show how indispensable your adaptability makes you. In a world now shown to be beset by change at all sides, it is this quality that will keep your career on the right trajectory, whatever the future holds.

Karen Young, Director of Hays Accountancy and Finance

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