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Careers issues during the Covid-19 crisis

Regularly updated information, advice, tips and news from Careers and Placements to help you with your next steps during an uncertain time.

What do you actually do - if you're graduating in a global pandemic?! podcast

Recorded during the first lockdown, Tom Banham, Director of Employability and Careers at the University of York, and Kate Morris, Careers Consultant, discuss what it's going to be like for graduates entering the job market in 2020/1. They look at the effect of previous recessions on the job market, what might be different this time, and make some practical suggestions for you.

Official updates and useful resources

What does the current situation mean for you?

Here are some common questions and answers about the situation.

If you have a question, send it to us via Handshakecareers@york.ac.uk or Facebook.

Also, check out our suggestions to unlock your potential during lockdown.

Employers and recruitment

We continue to monitor the jobs market and check with employers about their recruitment plans during this time. We'll keep you up to date through this page with what we find out. Many employers are still considering their recruitment needs in the current circumstances; some have had to cut back but many are still recruiting to internships, placement years and graduate roles.

Some of the actions taken by those employers still recruiting include:

  • online recruitment and selection processes 
  • reduction in planned summer internships for 2021 or possibility of virtual internships working remotely
  • online staff inductions 
  • later start dates for placement years

Job vacancies and graduate recruitment

While we'll try to keep you abreast of where jobs are still being advertised, we're not going to be able to list them all here, but will highlight some employers and jobs sites with their latest news. 

Job search and applications

  • Keep checking job vacancy sites and check individual employer websites for announcements about their recruitment status. Some will have statements about whether they have suspended or amended their recruitment cycle
  • Be prepared to consider a range of jobs - not necessarily your first choice dream job - in order to get some experience which will put you in a better position to move into your preferred job later
  • Research employers you would be interested in working for and make speculative applications; don't worry if they say 'no', it's worth making contact.
  • Prepare for these pandemic job interview questions - LinkedIn article (May 2020) and try our Covid-19 self-reflection practice interview on Shortlist.Me (register with your York email). Employers are particularly interested in resilience - think about how you have responded to recent challenges
  • NextStepSupport - a resource with articles and webinars from university careers services and graduate employers
  • Just graduated, what next? is a free online course from the Open University has a free online course which includes looking for work, the impact of Covid-19,and the transition to the workplace (including working remotely).
  • Check out Vault's article on virtual interviews
  • Prospects Your career and Covid-19 and Job hunting in a pandemic (January 2021)
  • See the Resources section below for help with your CV, interview practice, online tests and more.

What support is there during the current situation?

  • We are offering careers advice appointments via Zoom. Book your appointment via Handshake and you will receive the Zoom link in your booking confirmation
  • Virtual Careers information drop-in is available virtually on Monday, Wednesday and Friday (11:00 - 13:00) via Zoom. Find out more on the Talk to us page
  • A full programme of online events, including presentations and interactive sessions, with recordings available where possible after the event
  • Send us any questions you have by messaging the Careers Information Team via Handshake. You can find the team in the 'Public Staff List' on the Handshake dashboard
  • We also have a life-long commitment to our graduates, so you'll still be able to use most of our services, including access to appointments after your course has finished. Have a look at our Alumni web page for further information
  • Check out YUSU's Life in Lockdown blogs and news

What resources will help me?

We have invested in some great online tools to help you find out about working life as a graduate, and be your best in your application and the recruitment process.

  • Podcast series - explore what's involved in different jobs, the skills you need, and tips for your career planning
  • York Profiles and Mentors - find out what graduates from your department have ended up doing, ask them a question, or even get some one-to-one mentoring
  • CareerSet - CV feedback; this tool will rate your CV based on language, content, formatting and impact, and provide some suggestions for improvement. You can also upload a job description with your CV to see how tailored your application is. Use your university log-in, and see our CV page to find out more
  • Shortlist.Me - practice interviews; register with your university email and try out some mock interviews. You'll get experience of popular questions, and can watch yourself back and try again before the real thing. Read more on the interviews page
  • Access practice tests with AssessmentDay and Team Focus, so you are better prepared and more confident for the online assessment part of job applications
  • A variety of resources and online activities have replaced our usual on-campus events. You can view the recordings of some sessions on the presentations page and access the live events via Handshake
  • Consider using LinkedIn - create a profile, follow employers and use the alumni tool to connect with York graduates; find out more on the networking page
  • GoinGlobal (accessible via the International work page) - country-specific information about the impact of Covid-19, areas of talent shortage, and a remote jobs search facility
  • 6 tips for starting and succeeding at a fully remote job (Vault article)
  • Nine tips for postgrad researchers (blog post)

Our regular emails through each term will help keep you up to date and suggest resources and activities to help you with your career plans.

Our team are available for questions and appointments. Send us a message to the careers Information Team via Handshake. Book careers advice appointments in Handshake and you'll receive a Zoom link in your booking confirmation.

Managing my mental health while job hunting

Job hunting can be stressful. It takes time, effort and can involve multiple rejections. It is particularly hard when the jobs market is in flux.

There are some things that you can do to make it easier on yourself.

  1. Set yourself achievable tasks. You can’t control the jobs market but you can control your own approach. Be realistic about what you can achieve and set yourself a timeframe. For example, ‘I will spend two hours a day researching opportunities’ or ‘I will use Careerset to check my CV and respond to the suggestions by the end of this week’.
  2. Know where to find help. Careers and Placements is still open online, running virtual appointments Monday to Friday in term time. Find out more on our website about the types of appointments available and how to book. You can book your appointment through Handshake and you will receive a Zoom link for the appointment.
  3. Take care of your physical health - ensure you have regular breaks from job hunting, get enough sleep and exercise and eat well.
  4. If you feel that you are becoming quite depressed or anxious, please seek professional help. Details of who to contact from the university and also additional sources of help may be found on the Wellbeing pages.
  5. Don’t be too hard on yourself. The jobs market is in a state of flux and others are in the same situation. You are doing your best and every application you write will develop your skills and hone your technique further. Remember every successful person will have many failed attempts behind them - the key is to believe in yourself and don’t give up.

Virtual internships

Virtual internships are those projects that can be completed remotely from an office or home location without direct regular face to face supervision from a supervisor. They offer the opportunity to gain valuable work experience at a time where other opportunities may have been removed or withdrawn.  It’s likely that you’d have regular online meetings with your supervisor to keep them updated on your work and need to be proactive to manage your time effectively without regular supervision.

  • Handshake have written a useful blog about making the most of a remote internship, and there are more useful tips on the LSE blog, Making the most of your virtual experience
  • For virtual work experience (unpaid) you might want to consider Forage (formerly Inside Sherpa). Their programmes consist of resources and tasks designed to simulate real-world experience, and help you build your commercial awareness; they are free to use, cover a range of job sectors including law, accounting, finance, tech consulting, marketing and engineering, and are designed and endorsed by leading companies
  • Bright Network have offered Internship Experience UK for students and recent graduates, offering virtual experiences from top employers in six sectors. Keep a look out for future programmes.
  • Get involved with real-world projects through Barclays Life Skills virtual work experience
  • A student's guide to virtual internships (TargetJobs article)

Alternative experience

  • Could you generate your own work experience opportunity? Could you create a website, a non-profit organisation or a new online community? Do you have a passion that you would like to explore and share with others? For example, if you enjoy a particular craft, could you create a website about this and start keeping a daily blog or vlog about your activities?
  • If you are interested in green initiatives you could consider creating a virtual community with friends or neighbours to record and share ways in which you are going to boost recycling and composting in your area? Could you start up a new podcast about this?
  • Try to think of something you would like to improve or change in both your own life and the lives of those around you and new digital skills that you would like to explore and develop
  • If you would like support with creating a business plan check out our Start Up Guide. You can also book virtual enterprise consultations via Handshake

Will I still be able to secure a placement year?

Searching for placement year roles in 2020/21:
Many placement employers are still continuing to recruit to their placement programmes. Some employers have advised that there may be fewer roles advertised before Christmas, with more coming on in January, however it very much depends on the needs of the business. We encourage you to sign up to mailing lists of those organisations that interest you to make sure you are kept up to date with their recruitment timelines. RatemyPlacement is a good search platform to get an overview of placement roles currently available.
 
Registrations for the Placement Year Programme with Careers and Placements for 2021/22 closed on 20 January 2021.

How can I get some positive experience during this time?

One day you will look back on what you did during this time. You may be busy with study, work or caring responsibilities. Alternatively, you may have more time to focus and less competing demands. 

Learning

Obviously, your main academic studies should take priority over other learning, but if you have time and/or aren't able to secure part-time work, the following may be worth considering:

  • This is a good time to study and further develop your independent learning skills
  • You may want to learn about a new topic.
  • Could you consider starting your own research project? You could ask for guidance from your supervisor and consider a topic that could be completed remotely. Or you could volunteer some time to support an existing research project via Zooniverse, originally developed for the science sector but now including projects across all disciplines (for example, transcribing prisoners' records from Australian convicts, classifying baby sounds, listening to seismic waves to classify earthquakes, or monitoring seal populations around the world)
  • Make use of Bright Network's resources and online courses; their series of three core skills events in March is open to University of York students.

Volunteering

There are many opportunities to make a difference in your local community to support the most vulnerable members of society who are affected by the current COVID-19 situation.  

  • Check our volunteering pages for virtual and face-to-face opportunities and community projects for the new academic year
  • See also YUSU's micro volunteering page
  • If you are in York, you can find opportunities to volunteer during the pandemic
  • For ways to help nationally Covid Mutual Aid is helping to coordinate activities
  • Check out opportunities through a search on do-it.org 
  • Get involved with a research project on Zooniverse, mentioned above - data inputting, transcribing documents, mapping, monitoring wildlife videos, for projects across a range of disciplines. Similarly, DataKind offer voluntary opportunities in data science on behalf of charitable organisations
  • For more information and ideas read our blog post, Virtual volunteering

Enterprise

A number of people have started a new business during lockdown. If you would like support with creating a business plan check out our Start Up Guide. You can also book virtual enterprise consultations via Handshake. 

What about part-time work?

Part-time jobs work in some sectors are particularly affected by the pandemic, potentially making finding a part-time job a little more difficult.

  • Check out the Work while you study page for vacancy sources
  • In exploring other options, think about sectors that may require additional workers and are currently recruiting. Large supermarket chains, online retailers and food delivery providers have all increased their vacancies, many in customer service or deliveries
  • If you have a skill that you can teach online, consider if you could offer this. For example do you have the ability to teach English as a foreign language (or another language) or a musical instrument? Could you teach via an online platform? 
  • Check the Student Internship Bureau opportunities and apply for a virtual internship - see the internship section above
  • Try to be flexible in your approach. Remember that by engaging in work you will be earning money but also developing valuable transferable skills such as enterprise, communication, determination and the ability to remain calm, professional and positive under pressure

International students' questions about visas

Post-doc opportunities

  • Many UK universities have temporarily suspended recruitment and are only hiring for 'business critical' roles, although posts that are supported by external research funding may be unaffected. If you see opportunities listed on job search sites but you are not sure if they are still available, it's best to check on the university website.
  • Remember that industry based postdoc opportunities may also be available, particularly in sectors such as science, technology and engineering. For example, AstraZeneca recently advertised 50 postdoc opportunities globally.   
  • See the blog from LSE on Academic job search in uncertain times (23 April 2020)
  • The following academic job search sites also have career advice information, including global job search advice: 
  • Given the changes in the labour market in the current situation, you may also want to consider other areas where recruitment is continuing (or demand has risen), as a Plan B. Our PGR careers web pages will allow you to research different options and you can also book a careers advice appointment with the careers consultant for postgraduates. 
  • A free online career management course for early career researchers is available at FutureLearn. Designed to be studied over 4 weeks. It has been developed by postgraduate careers consultants from the universities of Sheffield, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
  • The University of York is piloting a new mentoring programme for PhD students in the final 18 months of their research. You will be matched with a more experienced postdoctoral researcher who will act as your mentor to help you to develop your skills, behaviours and approach to the research experience.

Things to do - summary

Online learning 

Add to your knowledge or learn something new

Online activities 

Contribute to research, surveys and discussions

Self-awareness 

Find out more about yourself

Career planning and researching options 

Think about your options and next steps

Job hunting 

Search vacancies and prepare for the selection process

  • Monitor job vacancy sources
  • Write or update your CV and get feedback via CareerSet
  • Practise interview skills with Shortlist.Me
  • Compile a list of skills and experience for use as examples in applications
  • Think about your qualities and competencies - some employers select on these values, rather than skills and experience
  • Practise aptitude tests via AssessmentDay
  • Practise assessment centre exercises/activities - situational judgement, e-tray, presentations, etc

(Work) experience

Find experience to add to your CV

  • Virtual internships (eg Student Internship Bureau, Bright Network, Forage)
  • Online volunteering  
  • Online teaching/tutoring (nb international students are not permitted to earn money from such activities, as would be classed as self-employment)

Online presence

Create a positive online profile

  • Creating a profile on Handshake and LinkedIn
  • Creating/developing an online presence
    • a blog
    • podcast
    • videos
    • tutorials
    • portfolio (for some roles andsectors, such as creative industries) 
  • Networking with employers, graduates and other students through platforms like Handshake
  • Mentor relationship with an alum, employer or other professional. Use platforms such as York Profiles and MentorsHandshake and LinkedIn to make contacts  

Skills development/self-development 

Add to your skills and achievements

  • Check out Your Career Journey for further ideas and suggestions
  • Learn new skills (eg online skills like programming/html; a foreign language, British Sign Language)
  • Take up a new hobby or learn a craft or a musical instrument
  • Brush up on effectively using Google suite (eg spreadsheets/docs/slides) or familiarise yourself with the Microsoft suite. IT Services provide training resources or check out relevant YouTube videos
  • Exercise mind and body. Use the University's Life in Lockdown pages for more information and links