Neil Johnson, journalist

Whether you’re seeking employment or looking to progress your career, the recruitment environment has become tougher as economies around the world enter recession, industries are disrupted and businesses quickly make major changes.

Companies are undertaking urgent financial analysis, reining in staff numbers and keeping a closer eye on workforce performance. The likely longevity of the crisis, along with its impact on structural and fundamental norms, means some changes will form the ‘new normal’.

While you might be constrained by lockdown measures, you need to show initiative and find ways to proactively improve your employment chances

As businesses seek to become leaner and more efficient, offices will close, digital tools will be integrated and spending will be tightly monitored. Finance and accountancy professionals will be vital to support such transformation and recovery, but employers will be looking for skills profiles that match the disrupted environment. Candidates will need to be qualified, resilient, adaptable and have transferable skills.

Show initiative, be proactive

Making yourself more employable always requires being very proactive, but now even more so. For a while, competition will be higher for fewer roles and, while you might be constrained by lockdown measures, you need to show initiative and find ways to proactively improve your employment chances.

Upskill online

Unsurprisingly, your efforts will mainly be focused online, so make the most of this time to mine the endless resource that is the internet, including networking on social media, taking courses or keeping on top of continuing professional development.

Learn relevant accounting or other software via courses, YouTube channels or guides and blogs. Find out about how the Fourth Industrial Revolution will shape future work and start acquiring the right skills.

Give something back

Volunteering is a great way to gain real-world experience, especially those highly desirable interpersonal and transferable skills. And while volunteering in person may be currently limited, you can offer to support charities (small local or large national) and their finance departments remotely. If you can do it safely, volunteer to support your community and frontline workers during the crisis.

Make some noise

Start a blog or vlog and share content while you learn. Create a place for peers and people in your field to learn and talk to you about what you’re doing. Starting conversations in this way is a great way to network, while also showing off your interests, skills and initiative.

In the same vein, get your social media profiles buzzing by creating and sharing content and commenting positively on the relevant posts of others.

Lockdown or partial lockdown is also a good time to grow your network, but try doing it in a targeted way. Write a list of companies you want to work for and try to connect with people who work in them, especially ACCA students and members.

Don’t ask outright for a job but start a conversation, ask relevant questions about their roles and companies, show your interest and try to impress these new contacts to make them long-lasting ones.

Get qualified

This is a good time to gain qualifications online in areas specific to your career plan. There are many free and paid-for courses that are recognised by employers.

Target healthy sectors

It’s easy to focus on the industries that are suffering most during this crisis – for example, airlines, tourism, infrastructure and construction, oil and gas, bricks-and-mortar retail and recruitment. But remember that no crisis is the same and there are always sectors that will thrive, such as ecommerce, food and drink, mass grocery retail, healthcare, video streaming, gaming, online communication and cloud-based software.

Focus your job search, skills acquisition and networking on sectors that can withstand the current turmoil, but also consider that those that are currently challenged will one day be preparing to grow in a recovery and may well start recruiting.

Tailor CV and cover letter

When you’re applying for jobs, make sure you constantly update your CV and LinkedIn profile with any new skills, experiences or achievements. Furthermore, you should tailor your CV and cover letter for each application so that they answer the a job advert’s specific questions and expectations.

Look at the key words in a job advert and, if you have the skills and experience, make sure you can demonstrate each of them in your CV and cover letter.

Good luck!

Take action

Search hundreds of entry-level roles from all over the world and set up a job alert for your desired role and location at ACCA Careers.

Find out about further qualifications and certificates and MBAs.

Read also ‘Job-hunting during the coronavirus crisis’.