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Careers issues and Covid-19

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

Listen to our podcast episode: Six key questions you need to know the answers to if you’re graduating in 2021

We cover the things you need to know about graduating and job hunting this year, including how to start a new job from home, what to do if Covid stopped you from getting work experience and how to future-proof your career.

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, please message us via Handshake (Careers Information Team in the Career Centre staff list).

For information about appointments and drop-ins, see the Talk to us page.

Employers and recruitment

Following a period of job losses during Covid-19, all industries have reported growth in the number of vacancies available in the quarter June - August 2021, with many returning to at least pre-pandemic levels (Office for National Statistics, September 2021). 

We continue to monitor the jobs market and check with employers about their recruitment plans for internships, placement years and graduate roles during this time. We'll keep you up to date through this page with what we find out. 

You are likely to find some practices have changed from previous years including:

  • greater use of online recruitment and selection processes 
  • virtual rather than in-person careers fairs
  • a blend of remote and office-based working
  • online staff inductions or onboarding

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 hunting in 2021: Ten things that graduates need to know (GTI blog, January 2021)
  • Applications for graduate schemes in 2022 are open, with more to come over autumn term - check Handshake and company websites for vacancies and application deadlines.
  • UK graduate labour market update (27 September 2021)
  • Graduate Options LIVE: Understanding your options post graduation - session recorded June 2020, access on our presentations page, summer term 2020 section
  • Labour market statistics (September 2021)
  • Gradcracker report regularly on which employers are recruiting (STEM jobs) and also host webinars about work in the STEM sector
  • PwC produce economic insights on a range of issues, including a UK economic outlook. They conclude that finance and insurance, health and social care, IT and telecoms, utilities and public administration and defence are likely to see the smallest impacts from Covid. All of these sectors recruit significant numbers of graduates.
  • Free employer webinars and online sessions advertised in Handshake events can help you keep up with the current job market.
  • GoinGlobal articles (accessible via the International work page) on employment issues and job searching during the pandemic.

Job search and applications

  • 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
  • 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 articles on virtual interviews and tips for starting work remotely
  • See the Resources section below for help with your CV, interview practice, online tests and more.

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, What do you actually do? - 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.

Managing my mental health while job hunting

Job hunting can be stressful. It takes time, effort and can involve multiple rejections. You may also be finding the changes of the last couple of years have affected your wellbeing.

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 open for messages, drop-ins and appointments. Find out more on our Talk to us page.
  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 improving but is still in a state of flux, and others are in the same situation as you. 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. They offer the opportunity to gain valuable work experience, if you can be proactive and manage your time effectively. It’s likely that you’d have regular online meetings with your supervisor to keep them updated on your work. See more from the Student Internship Bureau, and their vacancies advertised in Handshake.

There are also other initiatives, which may be described as internships, but are unpaid opportunities offering experience through online activities. These can still be useful ways to get an insight into an employer, sector or role and usually involve some interactive element, giving you some hands-on experience. These programmes are valued by employers and can be included in your CV.

  • 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
  • Get involved with real-world projects through Barclays Life Skills virtual work experience
  • Bright Network's Internship Experience UK for students and recent graduates has offered virtual experience in a range of sectors. Check back later to find out whether this programme will run in 2022.
  • Handshake blog: Making the most of a remote internship, and TARGETjobs 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 enterprise consultations via Handshake

What about part-time work?

Part-time work in some sectors has been particularly affected by the pandemic, but vacancies are now increasing again particularly in the hospitality sector.

  • 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 may have vacancies 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 working will mean you can earn money but also develop 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 four 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.