Whether you're recently unemployed, have been out of the workforce for a while, or are considering shifting careers, the uncertainty of the post-COVID world may not seem like the best time to be looking for a job.
But the reality is, businesses are hiring.
In fact, nearly 450 new local jobs were advertised last week, and this number is increasing month on month*
There is no doubt, however, that searching for a job in 2021 will more challenging than ever before. Difficulties for different industries have meant changes in the roles available, and the skills required for those roles. 'Working from home' is becoming increasingly normal and an increase in unemployment means greater competition for every role.
Despite all of this, in a recent survey, 44% of employers sited a lack of applicants as a reason for recruitment difficulties.
If there was ever a time to dust of the resumé, it is now.
Here are our top tips for finding a job in 2021:
1. Explore a new career path
Job for the future
Whilst some sectors struggle, others are predicted to boom in 2021. If you're thinking of exploring a new career path, look toward industries that are growing despite pandemic setbacks.
A recent report from the Government's National Skills Commission identified 25 emerging occupations that are in demand in Australia. These include roles involved within;
- Data Analytics
- Engineering and Trades
- Digital Engagement
- Regulatory Analysts
The Commission also identifies the most resilient occupations and industries that perform reliably during times of volatility, like a global pandemic.
As seen below, the report highlights percentage of resilient jobs within top industries.
Compare these occupations to those in the Hospitality or Arts & Entertainment sectors, who've experienced shutdowns over the past 12 months, and you get the picture.
Where are the job opportunities?
Not all occupations that are in demand require university or trade qualifications.
Of Seek's top 20 most-needed roles in Australia, Healthcare and Transport & Logistics jobs feature heavily, as well as Sales, Retail and Administration Assistant positions.
The National Skills Commission's Jobs Hub tool is a valuable resource that shows jobs and skills that are in demand by location, including live data on:
- Job advertisements in your location by type
- Jobs that match your skills and experience
- Skills in demand for job types
- Skills for similar job types
Where to start?
If you're not sure where to start, which career direction to take, or what your skills and experience make you suited for, there are a number of tools to help narrow down your options.
The Australian Government's Job Outlook is an extremely useful resource for getting started in a career transition. The site contains six interactive tools to explore and match to your own circumstances:
Skills Match - find jobs that use your existing skills
Career Quiz - explore careers you might enjoy
Explore Australia - discover career options in demand by location
Explore Careers - browse detailed information about hundreds of occupations
Future Outlook - understand the future growth of industries and occupations
Explore Industries - explore descriptions, estimated wages, skill levels, and predicted growth of specific jobs within industries
2. Upskill (for free!)
Whether you are looking to pivot in new career direction, move up from a current role or get started in the job hunt, upskilling is a great place to start.
Upskilling not only improves your skills and abilities for the changing job market, it also shows to recruiters your enthusiasm to learn and adapt. Completed or ongoing courses, professional development, certificates and qualifications look great on a resumé.
There are many ways to upskill, both formal and informal, and the best part is that it can cost very little, or nothing at all.
Free online courses
MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses, are free online courses offered by top universities and training platforms from around the world. There are no entry requirements for the hundreds of free and low-cost short courses available to choose from, in fields ranging from broad subject areas to task specific skills, and everything in between.
Although online courses generally do not offer certified qualifications, they are a great chance to experience a subject area before committing to more formal study.
Some leading providers include:
Alison is one of the world’s largest free learning platforms for education and skills training.
Future Learn partners with universities from around the world to deliver online courses and degrees, and offers a free 2-week trial to get a taste of what is has to offer.
LinkedIn Learning offers thousands of video courses taught by experts and professionals, across business, creative and technical subject areas.
Tip: Most paid platforms include an option for a free trial!
Subsidised TAFE courses
For a more formal style of training, consider enrolling in a tertiary course at a university or TAFE.
Eligible students can receive fully subsidised qualifications through TAFE thanks to a number of Government programs.
Courses from over 20 different fields, both short and long, have been identified by the Government as growth areas for skills and jobs in demand, as part of the JobTrainer program.
Building, Construction, Engineering
Business and Accounting
Animal Care, Agriculture and Horticulture
Health Care, Nursing and Community Services
Fashion, Textiles, Art & Design
IT, Communications, Telecommunications + many more
Search for the full list of available courses at the My Skills website
Finding a job in 2021 doesn't necessarily mean leaving your current workplace.
If you're currently working, your employer may already have opportunities for professional development and career progression in place for staff.
These may include:
subscriptions to training resources
internal promotion processes and career mapping
opportunities to experience a new variety of tasks
employer supported external study
A conversation with your human resources team or direct manager about upskilling doesn't need to be awkward. Remember; it can be of as much benefit to them as it is for you!
3. Up your networking game
Networking is essentially finding a job by who you know, instead of what you know.
It can be a good way to find a job because the job you want may not be advertised, and people often prefer to do business with people they know, or who have been recommended by people they know.
With increased competition for positions, having some inside knowledge could be the difference in securing a position.
Other career benefits can include:
ongoing career advice and support
discover new ideas and directions you may not have considered
sharing of ideas and skills
build and raise your reputation
attract recruitment opportunities and headhunters
become part of a supportive community
Networking means developing professional relationships with people within your industry or area of interest, that you can leverage for job opportunities and other career development.
If you're just getting started you probably have more people in your network than you think. These can include:
colleagues, managers and employers, from current and former workplaces
clients, current and former
teachers, classmates and student organisations
friends, and friends of friends
professional & industry associations
the person working in the type of job you want
There are a number of opportunities for you to expand and engage with your network, especially when you are looking for a job:
social media Connect, follow and communicate publically and privately through social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube in your area of interest. Stay plugged in to opportunities, trends, and relevant articles related to your industry. Build your profile's reputation by sharing and contributing to conversations.
events Networking events, conferences, fundraisers, awards and corporate lunches are held often by local business industry, student and interest groups. Meet new people, share your ideas and aspirations, and learn from businesses and fellow job seekers.
social events Any social event with friends, family, sports groups or collegues can be an opportunity for a conversation about your career, ideas and to make new connections.
The first and easiest way to utilise your network when job seeking is using the resources you already have access to.
Let your family, friends, colleagues, former employers and clients know that you are looking for work. Even though some of them may not have a connection to your area of interest, you never know who is in their network that could help out.
Check job boards, student associations, LinkedIn connections and industry related news.
Find out how the person in the job you want got there. Did they study or do an apprenticeship? Or did they learn o the job?
There's no need to reivent the wheel; if the path to your next job has been tread before, what is your next step?
When you need to continue building your network, focus on building long term relationships, rather than asking straight out, "are you hiring?". Networking is about telling your story, asking questions and getting advice. Think about it as making friends instead of being all about business.
Prepare What events/platforms should you use? What are your goals? Who should you talk to, and what should you ask them? Create your 'elevator' pitch; what are you going to tell people about yourself?
Be proactive Don't wait for people to approach you, or talk to people you already know. Exchange business cards Offer advice or contribute something to their situation
Follow up Don't let relationships go cold, especally if they don't immediately yield results. Nobody wants to feel used as a stepping stone only. Reach out to people, or contribute to public discussion regularly.
4. Talk to an employment service
To aid the post-pandemic economic recovery the Government has added to its suite of employment and business support programs, including JobMaker and JobTrainer, aimed at creating jobs in particular industries and demographics.
Some businesses also exclusively hire using recruitment services, who support employees on the job, and take care of the administration and eligibility work.
Employment services provide free, tailored supports for job seekers to find and keep a job, including:
Facilitating access to government programs
Career advice and planning
Links to community service organisations to address non-vocational barriers.
Training and professional development like RSA, RCG, First Aid courses and more
Work Experience and Internships to get your foot in the door.
Advocating to potential employers
Assistive Technology or Workplace Modifications
Ongoing workplace coaching and mentoring
Support in applying for NDIS assistance
Latest Government employment programs
The JobMaker scheme is a new Wage Subsidy Incentive from the Australian Government in response to the COVID-19 downturn, promoting the employment of young job seekers.
JobMaker Hiring Credits are available to business owners for each new eligible employee hired.
Eligible job seekers will attract $200 per week for new employees aged between 16 and 29, and $100 per week for new employees aged between 30 and 35, for 12-months. This can total approximately $10,000 per year for each new eligible employee hired.
The JobTrainer scheme will fund over 320,000 free or low-fee training placements for job seekers aged 17-24, including school leavers.
Eligible candidates can choose from diploma and certificate level courses across hundreds of occupations that are in demand, through TAFEs and other Registered Training Organisations.
Courses, occupations and training providers can be searched on the My Skills website
Prepare, Trial, Hire (PaTH) is a Government funded training and internship program aimed at giving young people the skills and experience to be more competitive in the labour market.
If you're an eligible young job seeker, you can access free training to prepare you for employment expectations and equip you with the skills to succeed.
Gain real experience through a voluntary work trial for up to 12 weeks, showing employers what you can do and building valuable skills.
Incentives and subsidies available to businesses will then give you a real chance of being hired at the end.
*correct as of 19/01/2021, https://www.nationalskillscommission.gov.au/news-centre/july-2020-vacancy-report-now-available