For people who’ve been made redundant recently, this is a challenging time to be out of work. Many businesses have put a freeze on non-essential recruitment due to economic uncertainty. So what can you do, right now, to make the most of this unintentional downtime? Here are eight ideas to keep you busy, brush up your skills and get you ready to hit the ground running when all this is over.
1. Apply for Universal Credit
When you’ve worked your whole life, applying for financial support can be an unexpected emotional hurdle. Many people feel embarrassed to apply for Universal Credit after a lifetime of paying into a system they never expected to need. But there is no shame in asking for the financial support you are entitled to. Universal Credit is a safety net for exactly this sort of situation.
Demand is high right now so apply as soon as you can at https://www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit. Expect to spend 15-20 minutes on the online application, plus longer if you need to verify your identity online. You’ll then need to book an appointment over the phone to discuss your application.
2. Do some training
Now is a great time to study online. Many learning providers are offering their courses free of charge during the coronavirus crisis. And you’ve got plenty of time on your hands. So why not take advantage and boost your CV with some up-to-date training.
Take a look online at the types of skills and qualifications that are most in-demand in your industry. A quick look at job listings on Indeed is a great place to start finding out what employers want. Then head over to Google to see whether any suitable training is available.
Some great sources of training at the moment – many of which include free options – include:
- Universities, including the Open University
- LinkedIn Learning
- Online sites like Coursera, Udemy and EdX
- Recruitment agencies like Reed
- Professional organisations
3. Work where you can
Some businesses are experiencing a boom in demand right now. This means there are jobs available, even if they’re not in your chosen field. Supermarkets, delivery businesses, NHS 111 and the DWP are just some of the areas that are recruiting.
Whether you’re in financial need or just keen to keep working, why not consider taking work that isn’t in your usual sector. Whilst a detour from your usual career path could ring alarm bells for recruiters in normal circumstances, these aren’t normal circumstances.
You’ll be able to easily explain this CV blip and it might actually end up a positive. By taking a different job in difficult times, you’re demonstrating your flexibility, willingness to work and might even learn new skills.
Volunteering is a win-win feel good activity. It’s not only great for the people you help, it is great for you too.
It gives you a sense of purpose and pride, at a time when both of these could have suffered a setback. It also fills up a potential gap on your CV with the sort of activity that no recruiter is going to sneeze at. And it can help out people who are in real trouble in the current crisis.
There are national schemes like the NHS Responder programme, offering opportunities to support isolated and vulnerable people who need extra help right now. You can also find local initiatives – often coordinated through social media – doing shopping, collecting prescriptions or making calls to local people.
5. Network online
Whether you’re a LinkedIn lover or a hater, now’s a great time to get to grips with this Marmite-like social network. Not only can you use LinkedIn to search for jobs, you can also network online with people in your industry. Get started by connecting with anyone you know from your previous employment, and you can then ask to connect with their connections, and so your network grows.
The idea is to demonstrate your expertise and build positive connections with people. Start by liking and commenting on people’s own posts. Then start posting yourself. If you want to really show you know your stuff, write and share articles on your area of expertise.
Remember, LinkedIn is a long game, so don’t be put off by low engagement at first. Post consistently and you should see your network and engagement grow. Take a look at this article on LinkedIn for job seekers.
6. Register with recruiters
No-one knows the local job market better than recruitment consultants, so spruce up your CV and get in touch. Many agencies let you register with them online and upload your CV to their database. They’ll then give you a call back to discuss your career aspirations. You can also search current vacancies on their websites and easily apply online.
If you’ve not looked at your CV in a while, review it and check the information is up-to-date and easy to scan. Check out these CV tips to get you started.
7. Start something special
Never has it been more true that ‘necessity is the mother of invention’. Innovative business ideas are popping up all over the place at the minute, from new food delivery services to video workouts, to connectivity apps and online shops. If you’re entrepreneurial and out-of-work, you could use this time to think about starting a business.
Whether it is a burning passion you’ve never had time to pursue until now, or a great idea to fill a gap in the current market, you’ve got self-employment options. We’ve created an ebook to help you explore your options and work towards writing a business plan. Download our Six Steps to Start a Business ebook here.
8. Rest and recharge
These are crazy times and there’s no right or wrong way to cope with them. If you just want to curl up on the couch and feel sorry for yourself for a while, there’s no shame in that. Feel free to hit us up for some Netflix recommendations. Don’t forget to check out the Mind website if you need some help dealing with any difficult emotions.
Similarly, if you want to take some time to learn a language or get in shape, go for it. Although it’s become a cliché, these are unprecedented times and we may never have this opportunity to take an extended break from work again. So whatever you want to do, whether that’s workout or just sit in your garden and enjoy the sun, do it. You’ll have a rested mind (and maybe a great tan) when you go to your next interview.