Job hunting is a gloomy prospect in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. As businesses adjust to the significantly reduced revenue projects due to the coronavirus lockdown, many of the United Kingdom’s prominent companies have announced large-scale job losses. The retail, automotive and aviation sectors are some of the worst-hit industries. Ever since the implementation of stay-at-home orders in the last week of March, the number of workers on UK payrolls dropped by more than 600,000.
As a recent graduate, you may be wondering if you should continue sending out application letters or just assume that there is a hiring freeze for the foreseeable future. Given the current circumstances, it is an entirely valid concern. However, it is still highly advisable that you continue networking and looking for jobs provided you adjust your approach to account for the current circumstances.
Many human resources departments are understandably still getting used to the shift to remote work as well as the changes in the payroll process. There may be a pause on hiring as companies get their bearings, but it doesn’t mean they won’t open up again in the near future. In addition, there are several industries that will stay open during the crisis, many of which are in need of more members of the workforce. The construction industry, in particular, maybe your best bet to build a career in the time of COVID-19.
The Impact of COVID-19 on Construction
The construction industry started the year 2020 with a cautious but optimistic outlook. In fact, the industry is slated to benefit from major government spending, starting with the National Infrastructure Strategy that was reportedly worth £100bn. However, these plans were put on hold in order to address the then looming threat of COVID-19.
Like the rest of the industries, the construction sector has been paralyzed by the far-reaching impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many aspects of the construction process have been severely hampered by the crisis, from the shortage of material supplies due to the global supply chain disruption to the reduction of the workforce resulting from stay-at-home orders. This is on top of the challenge of protecting workers from exposure to COVID-19 as well as the payment issues that have always plagued the industry.
Many small and medium contractors are facing significant short-term stress with no other viable move but to conserve cash. It is only a matter of time before fixed expenses can take over their cash reserves. Construction companies with a high level of debt and low cash reserves have to face liquidity issues. The construction contract also comes to the forefront. Construction business owners need to focus on contract management as clients and the contractors themselves may seek to terminate or renegotiate the contract.
Sadly, until the situation improves, there will likely be less confidence to start construction projects coming from the public and private sectors. However, the bleak situation does not mean that this is the end of the line for the construction industry in 2020. While we wait for scientists to create a vaccine to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and the medicine to cure it, it is up to us to observe social distancing and other measures until the worst of the crisis is over.
Why Apply for Construction Jobs During COVID-19
Now that we have established how the COVID-19 crisis has affected the construction industry, the question now is why you should choose a career in construction in the time of the pandemic. The answer is simple: applying for a construction job can be a pandemic-free career route.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck businesses around the world and left millions of people jobless in its wake, there was always a high demand for construction workers. A huge chunk of the construction workforce is ageing as the number of younger workers declines. A 2011 study by the Office for National Statistics found that one in every five UK-born construction workers were aged over 55. By the onset of the COVID-199 pandemic, these people were very close to retirement age. The industry will need to hire younger workers to train and fill the positions that will be left vacant by retiring boomers.
As one of the pillars of the economy, the construction industry is teeming with employment opportunities available to all levels of educational attainment. These career options range from office-based roles such as sales, accounts management, lien notice management, and human resources to field roles such as engineering, project management, electrical work, heavy equipment operation, and more.
While the COVID-19 crisis has brought many sectors of our economy to a complete halt, the construction industry is deemed essential by the government and thus has kept our economy moving. Perhaps learning from the previous global economic recession, many construction business owners were able to quickly adapt to the changing situation and adopt strict measures to protect workers and maintain safety on the construction site.
That said, the novel coronavirus crisis is an unprecedented situation that poses some unique challenges to the country. Business sectors will not be able to recover at the same rate. However, the pivotal role of the construction industry in the UK’s economic recovery means the government will take the necessary steps to support it in the long run.
Looking For Construction Jobs During COVID-19
Searching for a job has always been a daunting task but the challenge has been intensified by the COVID-19 situation. However, it is still in your best interest to continue your job search as usual provided that you acknowledge the uncertainty of our time. Here are some tips on applying for construction jobs during COVID-19.
You may have to get used to not hearing back from employers immediately. With the challenge of keeping the construction site safe and educating field employees on how to maintain social distancing and keep their workspaces clean, human resources personnel likely have their hands full. Job hiring may be low on their priority list right now but it will soon pick up as the industry eases into the new normal.
If you don’t receive any response from employers, keep up the momentum by applying to other jobs. Look for jobs that match your qualifications, skills, and experience. If you are up for it, look for apprenticeship openings that can be a good first step to jump start your construction career.
In addition, now is the perfect time to boost your skills and qualifications. When looking for a job, take a closer look at the job requirements. If you are yet to acquire a particular skill or haven’t used the skill in a while, this is the perfect time to make yourself a better job candidate by upskilling. For instance, being certified on a particular type of construction software will make your resume stand out. There are several free and paid courses that you can take online that can help bolster your qualifications.
Aside from getting those job applications out and upskilling, it is equally important to build your network for job opportunities. But with mass gathering forbidden, industry events and even coffee shop meetings will have to remain cancelled for the foreseeable future. Because of this, you may have to develop a new strategy to network with construction professionals.
There are several ways you can approach networking during this time. For one, you can look for professional groups on social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn and join the conversation. As for individual meetings, you may set up a virtual coffee meeting through video chats so you can actually see each other. This makes it easier to establish a connection and be authentic compared to phone calls.
This is a stressful time for any job-seeker. You may understandably feel frustrated, especially with a drastically different job hiring process. Have patience with yourself and the companies you apply to, and most importantly, stay healthy.