Furlough to redundancy; Covid-proof yourself

With articles such as this and also this, it becomes more likely that millions of people in the UK will be facing job uncertainties.  How do you Covid-proof yourself as countries around the world reel from the effect of the emotional cost of the Covid-19 pandemic? This is in addition to countries also reeling from the aftershock of the financial toll on their economies.  

From Asia to the EU, countries are facing the worst economic outlook in recent years.  The UK’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme aka “furlough scheme” will cost the government around £60bn by the time it is wound up.  By then, some of the original millions benefiting from the scheme will be having discussions with their HR departments about “at risk” positions.  

With nine million people being supported by the scheme, there are businesses that cannot afford to bring all their staff back to work.  The government will introduce a one-off payment of £1,000 to UK employers for every furloughed employee who remains continuously employed through to the end of January 2021. This may not be much of an incentive to employers to have all their staff return to work. The sad truth is there are going to be lay-offs. 

What you can do to covid-proof yourself 

Let us assume that you are one of the millions of people who have been at their jobs before the pandemic for longer than 2 years. You have become efficient at your current role and all of a sudden you are now facing the ugly spectre of future unemployment. How do you Covid-proof yourself? What can you do about it?  

For one, before the government’s furlough provision ends, this may just be the right time to start seeking a new role. There is always an avenue to port over existing skills into new roles. And there are still jobs – new jobs being added to the market daily.  For instance, are you currently working as a receptionist and suspect that your company no longer needs four receptionists at the front desk and your job may be at risk? How do you Covid-proof yourself? You can port over your existing skills, be it to online retail giants as a customer service representative, or something entirely new that requires the kind of experience you have had, dealing with the public. 

Whilst some industries such as retail, construction, and hospitality industries are faring badly, healthcare, information technology, and the public sector have been fairly busy in recruiting new talent. 

You may decide to supplement your skills with free online courses and start dipping your toes into applying for roles that are available.  Future Learn also has some really useful courses that can get you back on your feet really quickly.  Make the free resources available online, work to your benefit. Learn something new.  

Volunteering can also be beneficial for some, as it provides you an opportunity to block gaps in your employment history whilst giving you the chance to learn organisational skills, budgeting, and mentoring. 

How do you bounce back?  

For some, it is a daunting task to review their CVs and make it relevant to the job. This is partly because they may have been in the role for so long and it becomes difficult to convey their functions and achievements onto “paper.” 

There is no better time than now to Covid-proof yourself. Make a list of your achievements, soft skills, recent trainings, and finally a recent job description for your current role. Your HR department will be able to supply you with this. Break this list down into segments and there is no emphasising this enough – tailor the CV to the role. Do not be afraid if it looks scanty, you want to accentuate what you have that is relevant to the role, not just everything you have been doing in the past few years. 

Covid-proof yourself

Can a cover letter help? Absolutely. Some jobs do not request a cover letter, however, if you are applying directly to the employer and not via a recruitment agency – a cover letter goes a long way in introducing you and your desire for the job. It does not hurt your chances to have one ready. 

Avoid buzz words, clichés, and typos. The job market is likely saturated with people having a similar mindset as you. So, to stand out, spend extra time reviewing your CV and cover letter. Have a friend, a relative, and adviser critique it. Your CV & cover letters are there to get you an interview. You may have only one shot. 

What next?

So, you made it through the interview and have a job offer, congratulations! However, stop and think about the terms of employment. You were on furlough and probably looking at redundancy – so you got ahead of it and found yourself a job. Is it the job?  Yes, you have the mortgage, the rent, the council tax to pay and this makes it a tempting proposition. Do you take the role on offer and keep searching? That is one possibility.

A second could be bringing the matter to the fore quickly. If the salary is far lower than what you used to earn, try negotiating for some concessions. The Prime Minister has said employees can return to work if safe from 1st August 2020 – are you able to ask for more days working from home (if this is actually beneficial to your mental health), more holidays, reduced probation period, and even asking for extra health benefits. It is worth asking.  

Continue building up your network. Reach out to people, share your story, and listen to theirs. Whatever you learn during this process, refine, as it may come in handy when the next crisis arises. 

Tayo Taiwo

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