Marketing Director of Student Careers Service, Debut Careers has spoken to numerous employers to collate the best advice for students seeking new opportunities amidst Covid-19

“The world is a very different place to the one we were living in two weeks ago. Alongside the worry about family and friends, we know a lot of students are also worrying about what happens next in relation to finding a role.

To put this in perspective, employers are also concerned and are working to minimise disruption to the hiring process. With this much uncertainty, we have been speaking to many employers about how they are approaching the graduate and student recruitment.”

The Initial Reaction

We have seen a mix of reactions. At the start of the application process, some employers have suspended recruitment activity and are not looking for more applications whereas others are continuing to actively recruit.  

The part of the application process that will change most are the follow up stages after they have received your application. Interviews, assessment centres and other face to face activities have either been suspended or have been moved to virtual environments. For the companies that have suspended activities, they will be working around the clock to get an online version available. 

Most of the larger employers especially in technology firms have been using remote working for years, so are very well placed to continue working. 

From the conversations we have had, most of the companies are simplifying the process. One on one online interviews are going to be a big focus, although a few have retained the assessment centres in a virtual environment.”

What Will Happen Next 

“With so much uncertainty, around how long the Coronavirus will last, employers will be looking to establish a ‘business as usual’ feel as quickly as possible. This means they will likely resume activities once they have the systems in place to effectively handle the full application process.

Employers are mostly leaving jobs live, but with the big change in workflow we expect there to be some significant backlogs in dealing with the applications already received. Expect timeframes to be longer, and the later stages of the interview process to be pushed back.

Some sectors will be much harder hit than others. Travel for example we expect to hold back on graduate schemes and continue with much fewer roles available.

Summer placements are very much still in the balance. We fully expect some to go ahead, but some may get cancelled.

Looking a little further ahead we expect there to be changes. With a shock to both the economy and society of this magnitude these will be big. Some industries will emerge unscathed and maybe even with greater requirements, whereas others will struggle significantly.”

What can students do?

Firstly, don't panic. Employers are still working out their plans and they will be wanting to work with the students to help them through the assessment process. Employers will also be making sure that they over communicate changes to the application process.

You may well have a little more time on your hands now, so using this productively can give you a real edge.

Use this time to think outside the box when it comes to working out what companies you want to work for. For example if you did finance, every industry requires people in finance, or if you did computer science, don’t just limit yourself to tech. Research other sectors as there are some really exciting jobs out there.

We mentioned that online interviews will form a big part of companies hiring process for the foreseeable future. Online interviews require a slightly different approach than a face to face.We will be releasing some tips on how to make the most of their format shortly. As with anything practice makes perfect. If you can take the time to have a run through with friends it will take away some of the nerves.

Keep applying for roles. Normality will resume and when it does if you have made applications you will be ahead of the curve. For summer placements, it would be worth investing a little more time to apply to a few extra and give yourself the best chance.”

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