Finding a job during COVID-19

The Coronavirus pandemic has sent economic shockwaves throughout the world, with US rates of unemployment the worst since the Depression era and UK jobless claims soaring by nearly 70% in April.

The Coronavirus pandemic has sent economic shockwaves throughout the world, with US rates of unemployment the worst since the Depression era and UK jobless claims soaring by nearly 70% in April. While few now doubt that a very deep global recession is on the way and many expect that unemployment will rise, not all organisations are pausing recruitment as a result of this crisis.

Governance professionals have a key role to play in helping organisations to weather the storm. The need to remain legally compliant and operate with due care and ethical regard for stakeholder interests remain as pressing as ever, if not more so while the crisis pushes business continuity plans and crisis management skills to the limit. This means that governance professionals are still in demand and new jobs continue to be advertised.

While job vacancies might be less frequent than before, there are still opportunities in the permanent and interim job markets, and candidates should approach their job search with the same enthusiasm and positivity as during normal circumstances. Enforced lockdown is the perfect time to spruce up your CV and make connections with the specialist recruiters in the governance sector, who can provide insights into what employers are currently looking for and keep you abreast of relevant vacancies.

The interview process is likely to be rather different from the way it was before, with video conferencing replacing face-to-face meetings, but the main premise will remain the same: set out your store clearly and enticingly so that your prospective employer knows what you have to offer. The blog that we published on 19 May about online interviews has some handy tips about what to do to prepare and how to conduct an interview online.

Even if you’re not thinking about changing your role immediately, some of the free time won back not having to commute could be put to good use planning your next move and plugging any skills or knowledge gaps. We have plenty of online training and virtual training resources available to help with continuing professional development, including lots of free or low-cost resources such as webinars.

Should you start a new role while people are working from home, accept that the experience will be a very different one from before, but trust in the fact that it isn’t impossible. We have had several members of staff join the Institute since lockdown was imposed and they have embraced their virtual induction with enthusiasm. Colleagues have worked hard to make them feel welcome and a full induction process was carried out regardless.

Jeremy Small, Group Company Secretary at AXA UK plc, who is due to take up a new role with Royal London shortly, has the following words of advice:

“I would encourage people to respond to opportunities as they arise, even during these unprecedented times, as companies need good governance professionals even more now that so much is being done by remote, geographically distributed teams supporting boards and executives who are similarly scattered around the country and world. Anyone in a company secretarial role is likely to remain safely employed for as long as they want. A strong, well-run governance framework is critical at the best of times and is absolutely vital now, so boards can focus on addressing the various challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic without having to be concerned about the governance arrangements.”

Finding a new job during lockdown is different, but it is certainly not impossible. Visit our jobs page to see what’s available.

Sara Drake, Chief Executive of The Chartered Governance Institute UK & Ireland.

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