Top tips for looking for a new job in 2021


The New Year is a common time for employees to assess their working lives and decide whether or not it’s time for a change. If you’re one of those people, given the events of 2020, you may be wondering if it would be wise to take the plunge this year.

As we move comfortably into 2021, the big question on job seekers’ minds is likely to be how the impact of Covid-19 will affect their chances of securing their dream new role. There’s no doubt that the hit that the economy has taken over the last year has made things difficult for job seekers. However, with vaccinations already underway, there’s hope for a bit more stability for the jobs market on the horizon.

As we learned from 2020, things can be turned on their heads alarmingly quickly and we’ll need to be on our toes this year, however, here are some tips that will help make your job search a success in 2021.

Look to industries that saw growth in 2020

It’s safe to say that some industries fared better than others in 2020. The dramatic shift in our lifestyles in such a short space of time favoured the likes of online retailers, healthcare and tech while more traditional high street retailers have struggled. If you’re looking for a career change or a switch to a new industry, you may want to start your search in areas that have seen growth over the last year.

Here are some of the industries to keep an eye on:

Online retail: With all of that online shopping we’ve been doing, it’s little surprise that e-commerce saw strong growth in 2020. Those businesses that already sold products online or those that were able to adapt quickly to an online model were able to make the most of our abrupt change in shopping habits.

Tech: Tech companies also did well in 2020, partly due to the fact that the switch to remote work was relatively easy in comparison to companies that rely on physical storefronts. Those tech companies that have helped facilitate the increase in remote work, such as those that deal with communication software, have had a particularly successful year.

Renewable Energy: This industry has continued to grow with increasing awareness of the climate crisis. This trend is unlikely to change over the next few years.

Other industries have successfully weathered the storm in 2020 so be sure to do your research. Certain sectors, such as the finance and legal sectors are generally relatively stable.

Keep an eye on hiring trends

While the good news about vaccines has instilled confidence in businesses across the board, it’s still a good idea to pay particular attention to hiring trends this year as we may not be able to rely on the traditional trends. We usually see peaks in the new year and again in the autumn.

We may well continue to see these trends for those industries that haven’t been affected so much by the pandemic, however, it may take other industries a bit more time to gather speed as far as recruitment goes.

This means that if you’re looking for a new job, you need to be paying attention to the trends. Work out who is hiring and who isn’t. LinkedIn is a good place to start with this. Who’s making the most noise in terms of hiring and what sort of roles are appearing on jobs boards? You may need to adjust your job search accordingly and consider applying for slightly different roles and industries.

Consider a different type of employment

Some businesses may, quite understandably, want to be a little more cautious until things have stabilised a bit more. This means that they could wait before they start hiring full-time employees again. However, this may well mean that there are gaps to fill in the meantime and freelance or temporary work may be on the cards.

This might not be what you’re looking for in the long term but there are plenty of benefits to picking up work like this. You may be able to expand your knowledge, build up that CV and develop your skills working in a new industry, for example. If your goal is full-time employment, this could also be a good way to get your foot in the door. If you impress while on a temporary contract or working as a freelancer, you’ll be top of the list when the company starts hiring again.


Look for remote working opportunities

Coronavirus restrictions over the last year have sped up the growth of remote working. While this was already on the rise with more companies offering some sort of remote or flexible working for staff, many more of us have been forced to adopt this way of working. As the benefits of remote work have become clear to businesses, many have indicated that there will be remote working opportunities for staff in the future, even when restrictions have been removed. In fact, those that don’t start offering this perk may find themselves losing out to competitors when it comes to recruitment.

This is good news for job seekers who are looking for jobs that do allow them to work from home as they can widen their search geographically. More companies are also using video conferencing during the initial interview stages, so you might be able to avoid trekking across the country for these as well.

With this in mind, certain ‘soft’ skills have become increasingly important over the last year, such as communication skills. Don’t forget to show these off when it comes to interviews especially if you are applying for a role where there will be some remote working involved.

Prepare for more automation

AI is increasingly becoming part of the recruitment process. HR teams are using more advanced applicant tracking systems (ATS) and even chatbots to help them find the best candidates for their roles. Be aware that these systems are in place and make sure that your application will pass these initial screening processes.

It is important to tailor your application and CV for each role and to make sure that it is ATS friendly. If you can spell out why you’d be a great fit for the role, you’re more likely to get scheduled in for an interview.

Be aware that some businesses are also using automation to help with the initial interview stages as well. If you’re booked in for a video interview, you might find that the interview is pre-recorded at the other end. In these cases, the questions are usually quite broad and fall into the category of the “Tell me about yourself”, “What are your strengths and/or weaknesses?” and “Why would you be a good fit for this role?” interview questions. These can easily be prepared for in advance, so don’t get caught out with these sorts of questions.

While 2020 was a difficult year for many reasons, job seekers may well start to feel more optimistic as we start to move through 2021. With vaccinations underway and much more robust systems for remote work in place than there were a year ago, confidence in the jobs market is growing. While we’re certainly not back to normal, the tips above should help job seekers find their next role in 2021. Keep an eye on trends, especially industry trends, be flexible, capitalise on what you’ve learned from remote work in 2020 and be prepared for automation on your job hunt.