What impact will Covid-19 have on my future career?

This blog was written by Eilidh Macdonald, Industry Employability Champion, Department of Computing, Goldsmiths and is intended to give advice to students, no matter what stage of their studies, to think through their future career during this crisis.

In this post I have pulled together some insights around the impact of COVID-19 on the graduate recruitment market. In a rapidly changing situation, this is an attempt to help current students get a feel for some of the views of employers, recruitment companies, the press and one of our ex-students.

I have not included freelancing here – that will pose its own challenges. Many lecturers have had or still have freelancing careers or know people who have so for help please do reach out.

The key message is to not give up hope, to try and work on your profile during this difficult time and continue to apply for opportunities. We are here to help you in the department and we are working closely with the Careers Service, who are available for online one-to-one sessions and other support.

What can you do to help future career plans?

  • Be flexible and open-minded
  • Keep looking for opportunities (e.g. Gradcracker, Ratemyplacement, Indeed.com, LinkedIn)
  • Keep in touch with employers if you have had previous conversations about work or even a job or placement offer
  • Work on your online portfolio and LinkedIn profile
  • Have a look at postgraduate courses if there is an area of development you would like to focus on
  • Think about getting some volunteering experience, especially where you can use your technical skills
  • Make use of our Career Services e.g. book a 1:1 appointment; get a CV check; do a practice interview. Book through CareerSpace
  • Access resources on the VLE Employability Portal, including videos on how to prepare for general and technical interviews. More to come soon
  • Take part in our weekly Online employability/careers drop ins

Impact of COVID-19

Recruitment is severely affected but it hasn’t stopped. Many placement opportunities are on hold or even cancelled and businesses are scaling back their graduate recruitment. However we are seeing placement opportunities moving from on-site to virtual and in the technology sector this is easier to do. The recruitment process is also moving online, so expect interviews being held over Skype or zoom or even telephone interviews.

Last month a survey with employers was conducted by the Institute of Student Employers (ISE). Numbers have probably shifted in the meantime but the figure below gives an indication of mainly larger employers opinions about hiring.

Figure taken from ‘COVID-19 Challenges for student recruitment and development’ report, ise, March 2020

Tristram Hooley, Chief Research Officer at ISE summarises the potential effects in a recent blog post:

  • In the short-term employers will be managing the chaos of the lockdown and its aftermath and many will delay or cancel normal recruitment
  • In the medium-term, graduates will be operating within a more competitive labour market
  • In the long-term, this year’s students will be graduating at the start of a recession that could last for some time.

Other ISE insights (from recent webinar):

  • Many employers have paused recruitment e.g. where current staff have been furloughed.
  • Many are hoping to restart recruitment in June/July for September starts
  • ISE summary view: For now, at least, student recruiters seem to be reacting cautiously and avoiding panic

What do employers say?

“Even in this crisis, some employers are booming. Technology companies, the food sector and logistics firms are busier than ever. You might not end up with the job you hoped for but you can get a job.”

Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute

The ISE think that there will be growth in the public sector, so this could be another area to look at in your job searches and research into potential areas of work.

Charlie Ball, labour market analyst and speaker, sees the following trends:

  • Postgraduate course demand will rise
  • Demand for healthcare, some forms of logistics, some forms of supermarket retail and hardware/networking roles is holding up well
  • Demand for roles in finance and IT looks to be down a bit but activity is currently going on
  • Hospitality, entertainment, public transport, some sales and some business services has been hit significantly

Alison Partridge, OneTech Managing Director at Capital Enterprise:

“The unemployment rate in the UK has doubled in less than a month due to COVID 19 and over 1 million young people will be leaving full time education this summer and face limited employment prospects. As in other recessions or economic shocks, interest and demand to start a business will rocket upwards from the new army of unemployed and as is the case now, starting a business in the tech sector or starting a business that is digitally enabled for marketing, sales and distribution will offer the best opportunities for success for these first time entrepreneurs.

At Capital Enterprise we have been fortunate to secure additional funding from JP Morgan to launch a new StartUp Resilience Programme for tech founders who can’t access the help they need elsewhere.”

Some other insights from recruiters:

  • Indeed say that internship opportunities are drying up
  • LinkedIN say that finance and IT are weathering the storm and many roles have gone virtual

What do our Alumni say?

Nathaniel Okenwa, who graduated from our Business Computing course last year is now a Tech Evangelist at Twilio. This is what he advised students:

“I am very fortunate that my company has not been significantly affected financially by Covid-19, however I know quite a few friends working in software who have been laid off or furloughed.

One thing that this has highlighted to me is how important it is to curate an identity outside of your day job. Put out blog content, start a podcast or stream your coding sessions on Twitch. I have been amazed by the creativity I am seeing from developers as they move from working in person to creating online content.

Having content online is a great way to stand out when you are looking for a job in these times. It’s always good news for an employer if they google your name and see that you have great content and a following online.

So get out there. Highlight the things that you enjoy building. People will notice”

I hope this summary has helped give you a very general view of the impact of COVID-19 on current student recruitment. Please share your experiences with me so that we can help other students through this time.