Livelihoods after lockdown: What will the post-COVID jobs sector look like?

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They say you can find a sliver lining on any cloud. Even one as thick, heavy and insidious as COVID-19. 

People working hospitality, however, might have a little trouble coming round to this optimistic school of thought.

Jobs in bars, cafes, restaurants and pubs across the UK are hanging by a thread. Some workers have already been given the chop. Local businesses - built from the ground up with blood, sweat and tears - are desperately trying to find ways to survive.

Hospitality is still spinning after being dealt a sudden, colossal blow, and whilst the government have stepped in to offer financial support, it remains to be seen how long this can be sustained... or what happens afterwards.

Millions have been left in limbo, unsure if they'll ever actually return to the workplace they left "temporarily" in March.

What exactly is the silver lining in all of that?

According to recruitment expert Abi Dunn, it's time. 

If you've been furloughed, forced out, or remain on payroll with no tasks to complete, lockdown provides an unparalleled window to reflect on what you actually want. This is a period where you can acquire the skills/portfolio you need to move your career forward... despite being sat physically still.

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Abi set up consultancy Sixty Eight People in 2019 with an aim to counteract the "knob head persona" of the typical recruiter and embark on a crusade to help hospitality as a sector overall.

In the current climate, the company is diversifying its services to support clients and candidates in a sector surrounded by choppy waters - continuing to maintain contact across staff and customers in the process.

According to Abi, the way businesses behave during this crisis will play a massive role in whether they make it back onto dry land safe and sound.

"Staff need to be taken care of - especially now" Abi tells The Manc.

"How companies treat people during this period will dictate their reputation in the long run.

"If an employer is being secretive or unsupportive during this time, you wouldn’t want to go back, would you?"

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"Not everyone will have a place to go back to after lockdown, of course," Abi continues.

"Lots of people in hospitality may be looking for something new. But this isn't a time to sit still and just wait for things to be over."

Abi believes that hiring companies will be keen to know how people spent their time throughout isolation - and the applicant's responses could influence the outcome of an interview.

"Early on, it could just be a bit conversation starter - talking about what you did during lockdown," Abi tells us.

"But imagine how good it would be to tell an interviewer 'I got my First Aid qualification' during your time off.

"When you've got some downtime, it's worth dedicating yourself to some self-development.

"Have you done anything to help others during this period? Have you achieved something? Is there a new hobby you've developed?"

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Learning new skills doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg, either. Readily available resources are out there.

One platform offering free content during COVID-19 is Vidleos - which enables hospitality staff to gain new skills online without paying a penny.

The service covers things like, inductions, compliance, service, products and best practice.

Vidleos is currently collaborating with Sixty Eight People to provide training to a wide public audience, and you can get started online.

Sixty Eight People

Eventually, those first slithers of sunshine will begin to peek through the coronavirus cloud, and glimpses of normality will appear on the horizon.

But even when lockdown is lifted, Abi suspects that hiring post-COVID could potentially be a very different ballgame to what we've been used to for many years.

"What this climate has proven to people is that many tasks can be done online now - including recruitment," Abi says.

"I think we could start to see a lot of recruitment moving online and into a virtual environment, with lots more Zoom meetings. Having confidence in front of a camera will be important."

"Recruiters can be helpful in the current climate because we have the best resources and insight to help people make the right choices. But also, we act like an Agony Aunt. People can share their frustrations with us and we can offer possible solutions."

In a climate where people are panicked, quasi-counselling like this might just prove invaluable.

Sixty Eight People

Despite the seemingly inevitable sea of change set to wash over recruitment, Abi says people can still be prepared for new roles.

"It's actually possible to be ready for almost any interview in the future," the expert tells us.

"There will be some differences, but there's often scripted questions - how would you describe yourself, tell us biggest challenge etc.

"It's worth using this time to consider some great answers that interviewers might have never heard before."

Sixty Eight People have actually set up a CV school for anyone who requires assistance crafting a new job doc. Feedback is given within 48 hours.

 

"A lot of CVs just tick the boxes," Abi explains.

"We see the same old CVs all the time.

"It's really worth sitting down now and thinking about who are you really.

"Don't update an old version. Put some hours in and make it consistent."

Sixty Eight People

Even before coronavirus, building a career in hospitality was a challenge.

It can be very difficult to progress up the ladder at speed without the right guidance, and this will be doubly difficult in an industry that's been walloped worst than most by the global pandemic.

So, to help people prepare accordingly for a new role in a new world, Sixty Eight People have also set up a Life After COVID page, with plans for a specialised jobs board focused on roles in Manchester.

"Our industry will be back," Abi assures hospitality.

"Take this time to consider your options, make good choices about who you want to work for and get yourself in the best possible position to smash that interview!"

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