The post-pandemic world has caused many a graduate, student and employee to worry about the future of applying for roles. We simply do not know what this will look like, given the current situation, but there are ways you can get ahead now in order to prepare for the battle for the job.
The first, is preparation for the new-way process. Many of the steps to getting a role in the post-pandemic world are much like before, however how you lay the foundation for a successful application is the most important. Look at the broader industry trends when considering how the specific company or types of firms you are looking at.
How have firms been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdown? Have they been affected in any specific practice areas or sectors significantly or minimally? What has happened to things such as cross-border deals and court appearances by firms? How have they ensured that their workers are receiving support and proper guidance during Work from Home that the UK implemented for office workers? These are all extremely important questions to be asking yourself, given the context of the situation we find ourselves in.
Whilst checking out the individual firms’ websites and blogs, remember to look at industry publications and the news for further information or updates. Websites like Lexology and Inner Temple Library provide updates from various firms and chambers on what is currently occurring in the various sectors, and gives updates on the legal news, changes in legislation and case law. You will be able to gain an understanding and spot trends on what is relevant to certain companies, and this research area will allow you to understand the businesses you are applying to (after all, law firms are businesses in retrospect), and impress potential employers by being able to give a greater insight into these trends by reading up on them.
Refreshing your CV is something you should consistently be doing when you obtain a new position or career goal. There is never a bad time to spend an hour updating your CV or configuring it to match a certain firm. Tailor the CV to each firm, read the job specifications and make sure you are ticking all of their boxes by asking those who have succeeded what they did to make them stand out.
Also remember to keep a tab on what dates you started and ended roles too. You will be surprised how many applications will ask for the specific date you began a role and ended it. Keep your P45s and P60s in a document so that you are able to refer to these when needs be and have a notebook or document on your laptop which lists all of the specific dates of your employment/s (your CV should have just the month and year on it). Also aim to continually alter your cover letter to fit the firm. Having a basic cover letter is fine but if you can tailor it to any other firm or competitor, it will be rejected by the graduate recruitment (harsh, but true).
Consider your aims while you are thinking about applying for roles. What are you hoping to achieve through the role you are looking at? This tends to be a regular and standard interview questions, but it isn’t always that easy to answer! By thinking about this question in advance, it can help you in all stages of the application process.
Also think about the role itself. Are you simply looking for a job simply to have a job? Or are you thinking more about your long term career goals, and this is a step toward that? By deciding on what your aims are, it can help you find roles most relevant to you. It also helps you be able to plan for the future and guarantee that if you are asked a question about why you chose this role, you have taken the time to properly think about it and provide a thoughtful answer.
The pandemic is causing employers to think of new ways in which to prepare for the workplace to be different to the past ‘normal’ when dealing with the day-to-day aspects. This include social distancing, hygiene maintenance (which a few places could do with a lot more of if you ask me!) and daily (or shift-related) employee health checks. It’s imperative that you prepare for this as it may mean a touch longer waiting before being allowed to work (but this should not be more than 10 minutes). It is important to do your research here and ask the hard question of “what initiatives do they have in place to ensure all employees’ health is safe?” If an employer is unable to answer this question properly, run away and run away fast – you should not be entering roles that don’t have protocols in place while a pandemic is ongoing, as this can set a horrible precedent for how you will be treated in the long run.
Remember that you must be more patient now than previous years have been. Some industries and businesses are working at a lower rate due to not being able to group together to discuss applications. Try not to be too disheartened if you don’t hear back in the time frame given – a brief email stating that you are yet to hear back should suffice if the wait is over 4 weeks form your application.
Moreover, this time is difficult for everyone. If you don’t achieve a certain response from a firm, don’t be disheartened! It may not have been the year for you to get to that goal, but it means that you have the ability to take another year to try new things, achieve other goals and improve on yourself to get to the specific target you wanted initially.