Life has changed beyond recognition in the past month and, for most people, no part of their routine has been untouched by the impact of the coronavirus.
Millions have been forced to cancel holidays, weddings, parties, performances and other events and today the government effectively signalled the shutdown of the UK housing market.
If you’re applying for a job, you may be unsure what to do next. If you’ve already applied but haven’t heard back, does that mean you haven’t got the job? Have interviews been suspended or is the job now no longer available?
Most big companies have made public statements about their interview processes and, in many cases, they’re now taking place on video platforms or social services.
Some employers will have postponed interviews or internships and may be rescheduling them for when the pandemic has passed.
But what if you’ve applied for a job with a smaller company that hasn’t publicised what it’s doing and is not answering phone calls or emails? It may be that all its staff are preoccupied with other things and haven’t yet got around to informing applicants about its recruitment process.
It may be tempting to keep trying to contact the company, particularly if you have an interview arranged and you want to know if it’s still going ahead.
Whatever your situation, it’s worth remembering that we’re all in unchartered waters. There’s no playbook for the situation we’re in, so don’t be afraid about doing the wrong thing.
Naturally, you’ll want to know what your position is, but patience is a virtue. Staff will be working from home and trying to get used to their new arrangements, so be restrained with follow-up calls and emails.
Your application might well be being dealt with but the timescale for filling the post may have altered. Conversations, paper sifting and decisions that may have been taken quickly in an office can be delayed by video conferencing or email.
It’s fine to drop a polite email asking about your application but leave a longer gap for replies and remember that company phone lines may have been redirected or are being used only in emergencies.
If you’ve already been offered an interview, the chances are that arrangements will now have changed. Video interviews are inherently different from face-to-face interviews so there are some things you should remember.
You should practise alone beforehand, using your laptop to record yourself, so that you can judge your performance.
You’re effectively taking part in a live broadcast so may be judged on things that are not so apparent face-to-face, for example your body language and the tone of your voice. Do you slouch, pull strange faces or fidget? Do you mutter or gabble?
Note the background that your interviewer will see. What's behind you? A relatively uncluttered background is best. Check the light levels, too. You want the recruiter to be able to see you.
Make sure there are no wandering cats and silence the dog. Warn your flatmates or family that you'll need some peace and quiet for a while.
You may find yourself under some time pressure. For example, you might be given 15 seconds of thinking time and 60 seconds for your answer, with a timer on-screen indicating how long you have left.
If your interview has been cancelled, don’t argue or express disappointment or anger. Everyone will be judged on how they cope with this crisis and so it’s an ideal opportunity for you to demonstrate to a future employer how understanding, organised and adaptable you can be when things go wrong.
Follow up with a polite email to confirm your interest in the role, tell them you understand completely that we’re living through extraordinary times and leave a number and email address where you can be contacted.
If you’re in limbo remember that some opportunities still exist, for part-time work. Most major supermarkets and some retailers are recruiting to cope with the increased demand.
Applications are being fast-tracked, in some cases with overnight hires and next-day inductions. And, like ourselves, many organisations are supporting the search for key skills and workers to assist the recovery programme and keep the country moving during the period of crisis.
Remember, however, that such jobs will bring you into daily contact with thousands of people so think about your safety and those around you and stick to the social distancing guidelines.
Eddie Finnigan, Managing Director, Two Rivers Recruitment
A version of this blog has also appeared: