Searching and applying for a new role in COVID-19 brought both benefits and challenges. As someone who is usually incredibly busy working extra hours, volunteering for multiple organisations, playing sport and socialising (as a method of managing my own mental health), COVID-19 was a shock to the system (as it has been for most!). I began working from home in my previous role and found it incredibly challenging to structure my days and ensure that I exercised, ate well and socialised (virtually) to manage my wellbeing. Being in the same space repeatedly and not having social contact in a work environment was a challenge for me, especially due to increasing stress in my previous role.
Before the lockdown I was actively searching for new roles in order to improve my wellbeing but was struggling to find enough time to devote to this. I would say the lockdown, however challenging it has been mentally, came at a good time for me as it allowed me lots of additional time to search and apply for new roles without the usual social and societal pressures of everyday hectic life! As life had slowed down everywhere, I found I felt less guilty and pressured to be doing other things and was able to reflect on what I wanted from a new role. I was also able to take the time to do small things for my wellbeing and to rebuild my confidence and motivation.
At the beginning of the lockdown, an initial challenge lay in the shift in the jobs market, especially with regards to the growth of temporary and emergency contracts which were less secure. While I was looking for something that would be positive for my wellbeing, I was also looking for a progression, and the kind of roles I was looking fo were not available. Knowing that the job market would start to open up again in the near future when the effects of COVID had begun to reduce, I took some time to look over previous job applications, CVs and at my LinkedIn Profile. I gathered the various examples I had used in applications in the past and started to create a bank of these categorised by skill which I could use to demonstrate competency in applications and interviews. When roles did begin to open up again, I found this incredibly helpful and looking back at what I had achieved so far in my career also gave me a significant confidence boost.
I applied for a number of roles over the course of lockdown, which were largely unsuccessful. This was challenging as although I had the security of my current role, my wellbeing was under severe strain from this job and I had been on and off sick for some time with stress. As is commonly found under normal circumstances, I faced a number of rejections without the opportunity for feedback as well as a number of situations where I received no reply. I persisted and was very excited when I heard that I had an interview for Leeds Mind!
The interview process was slightly more nerve-wracking as it was on Zoom and I much prefer speaking to people in person! However, the team at Leeds Mind made it very smooth and welcoming and so I had a very positive interview experience. A key thing I would say about doing a video interview is try not to keep looking at your own picture as this is very tempting and can make you feel self-conscious and not make eye contact with the interviewers. On some platforms there is the option to turn off self-view so this is potentially a good idea if you find you tend to look at your own video too much!
Now in week 3, I am finding the structure and support available to be a great help to my own mental health. Being eased into the role and having lots of positive encouragement and advice from colleagues has made the start thoroughly enjoyable and stress free! Basically my advice is its ok to find it tough, now even more so and rejections are extremely normal! I would say to use the additional time that the current circumstances provides to reflect on what you want and what you can offer. Keep going and there will be something out there perfect for you!
Blog written by Georgia Ellis – WPL IPS Employment Specialist