The past year has been incredibly difficult for people across our region and despite provisions being put in place, many people have been left to face redundancy, extended periods of furlough and job uncertainty. With the vaccine roll-out underway, we can start to see a glimmer of hope on the horizon and with the start of a new year, this is a great opportunity to take stock of what we learnt in 2020 and where we want to go in the year ahead.

At SimkissGuy Recruitment, we are starting to see more clients thinking about the future of recruitment and wanted to offer some advice to those who are facing redundancy or are currently considering a new career. Whilst this is undoubtedly a stressful situation to find yourself in, it really can offer the opportunity to assess your career path and choices to date.

With all candidates who are considering a career change, we always advise doing your research first, looking at the types of opportunities that are available and the sorts of transferable skills you have to offer. There are a huge array of online courses out there which offer the chance to learn new or hone current skills, all from the comfort of your home and these can look really impressive to new employers.

Once you’ve considered your next career move, then it’s time to ensure your CV is as polished and up to date as possible. Your CV is your single-most valuable tool when applying for new career opportunities. It is your chance to make your first impression with a prospective employer, explain your story, highlight your achievements and outline your aspirations. Here are some initial points to consider.

Firstly, always ensure your CV looks immediately professional. Verify that all the company names, employment dates and job titles have been noted correctly and do briefly explain any gaps on your CV so that the prospective employer understands your career journey to-date – a simple sentence or two will suffice.

In terms of content, it is crucial that for each individual job application you make, you review and tailor your CV accordingly: ensure that your CV demonstrates or references the strengths, experiences and key skills that the job requires, and where possible try to mirror or echo the language used in the job description as this will help identify the synergies between the role and your experience.

Lastly, it is worth remembering that your CV is the only opportunity you have during these early application stages to convey your unique qualities and strengths, so injecting some flair and personality will really help, particularly if changing sector.

One aspect of the recruitment process that has changed massively during the last year is the interview stage, with the vast majority of interviews being conducted remotely and virtually. With this in mind, there are some key tips that we like to make sure all of our candidates are aware of to ensure they are as prepared as possible.

Crucially, test your equipment – make sure you’re fully prepared for your remote interview by downloading any relevant apps or software platforms which your remote interview will be conducted on. Also, where possible, try and practice connecting to an online meeting ahead of the call to avoid any IT or system glitches which may detract from the interview at hand! If you are attending a video call, then you should still ensure you are wearing your smartest office attire; it is crucial to make a good first impression and demonstrate you have made a real effort. It’s amazing how much of a confidence boost you will get by knowing you look professional.

Alongside a smart personal appearance, you should ensure that you are interviewing in a professional environment to avoid any distractions from yourself for the interviewer. Make sure you are in a quiet room where there will be no noise distraction, ideally against a plain or neutral backdrop to ensure you’re displaying a professional environment. If you’re worried about outside or background noise then we would advise using headphones, to ensure that you can clearly hear the interviewer and understand the questions being asked.

Where possible, hold these interviews on a laptop or tablet device whilst sat behind a desk – simulating a typical interview set-up. If you are reliant on using a mobile/smart phone, always ensure that this is propped up on a desk or table and not in your hands! Lastly, should you have any issues with connectivity or volume during your interview, always make your interviewer aware of this, as opposed to trying to carry on and misinterpreting any information or questions.

In exactly the same format as a face-to-face interview, an interviewer will really gain an understanding of how interested and engaged you are with their business and opportunity available by gauging how much research you’ve done. Ensure you’ve taken the time to really understand their company’s products, services, values and unique selling points, as well as their standing within their sector or market and identifying any key competitors.

As we navigate the first quarter of 2021, we are hopeful for a resurgence of recruitment activity and have been heartened to hear from various clients and candidates over the past months who have managed to not just adapt but thrive in these trying times. Whether it be looking for a new role or just wanting to have a conversation about a change in career, at SimkissGuy Recruitment we have been offering free advice throughout the pandemic and as we acclimatise to this ‘new normal’, we look forward to continuing to work with anyone who needs us.