By Mia Wilkinson
The Covid-19 Pandemic that took off in March 2020 left many of us uncertain of where life would lead us next, especially when it comes to employment, productivity and connectivity. After Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the first lockdown on the 23rd of March 2020, health became the biggest concern of many, but we also have had to consider how Covid restrictions would affect our ability to look for work.
The Power of the Internet
Signing up for Universal Credit has been online for quite some time, but due to Covid-19, my very first appointments with the Job Centre in late 2020 were held over the phone, as they could not be held in person. At first, it felt impersonal and limiting, but I had to make do. Because I couldn’t go out in person, I took to my job search the only way I could, online. However, this method of searching for work is far from new. Even before the pandemic, job hunting sites such as indeed, Reed and LinkedIn have been quickly gaining popularity. In 2020, 96-97% of households in the UK had internet access, making using these sites more convenient than ever. Gone are the days of finding job advertisements in newspapers.
Websites such as findajob.gov and indeed have easy-to-navigate features that narrow down your search results, tailoring them to your location and what sector captures your interest. Applying for positions is also made easy, with lots of employers accepting applications via email. Just email your CV and a Cover Letter and await a reply. One element of applications that have had to be altered to work around the pandemic is how interviews have been taking place.
The Interview Experience
My first interview took place over a video call on the app Zoom. The pandemic has made most people familiar with using sites like Zoom, and they have become a signature feature of the pandemic. Video calls have many of the benefits of in-person meetings, you can hear people’s voices and see their faces, conversations playing out in real-time. Many people, myself included, enjoy the appeal of being in the comfort of your own home, without having to sort out travel arrangements for getting you to and from a traditional face-to-face interview, which can help boost confidence and keep you focussed on the interview itself.
Another interview I had was held over the phone. This one left me unsure of the expectations of my interviewer and how I was being perceived, as I had face-to-face interaction. It can be hard to conceptualise the person on the other end of the line and to get a good picture of who they are and what company they represent. I would guess my interviewer likely felt the same way about me as a possible prospective employee.
One of my last interviews did occur in person. In the absence of a lockdown, I was invited to the workplace. We had to keep our distance, wear masks, and I was assured furniture and doors were frequently sanitised, but I found being there in person quite beneficial. I got to see my potential workplace in the flesh as well as meeting who, if I got the job, I would be working closely with. This gave me a strong sense of the working environment and my place in it.
Ultimately, the pandemic has shown us that we can still look for, apply for, and complete work safely and effectively while working from home in the modern age of technology the internet has made us more connected than ever, and many will likely be maintaining habits formed during the pandemic, using sites and apps to get into employment.