What job-seekers must do as competition spikes
Jobseekers yet to get serious about the job hunt while COVID-19 welfare continues to flow are urged to stop putting it off as competition in the already-crowded market is set to spike.
Data from analytics website SEMrush reveals jobseeking behaviour during the pandemic rises and falls in line with government announcements about the JobSeeker coronavirus supplement and JobKeeper.
As these schemes are scheduled to end in March, SEMrush global marketing head Olga Andrienko expects competition for jobs will soon increase.
"The data shows that visits to the top jobseeking websites dropped off a cliff during April this year, and continued to decline following the announcement by the Australian Federal Government on employment subsidy schemes, JobSeeker and JobKeeper," she says.
"Visits to popular employment website SEEK fell by more than three million per month, and decreased a further two million in May.
"Following the announcement of eligibility cutbacks in June, traffic to SEEK soared by seven million visits for the month.
"Following the Jobseeker extension announcement in July, the data shows a similar trend to April, falling again by more than four million during August.
"These trends could be interpreted as a lack of interest in Australians seeking work when government financial handouts were available."
Andrienko expects another increase in active jobseeking when benefits are again reduced.
Although easing restrictions on movement are predicted to open up more roles, she says there will also be extra competition now that remote work has been normalised.
"Not only will people be competing against the local market, the pandemic has also enabled the opportunity for national and even international recruitment," she says.
Andrienko says jobseekers who were complacent about their employment status during the early months of the pandemic will find themselves in "a completely different landscape".
A lack of career options at senior levels has led to more experienced jobseekers applying for junior roles, making the market especially difficult to crack for someone with little experience.
Generation Australia national programs manager Erin Brindley says upskilling is the best way for jobseekers to give themselves an edge in a competitive market.
"It's been such an intense year with so much upheaval so I understand why people want to take their time but when you have thousands applying for the same role, you need something that helps you stand out from the crowd," she says.
Generation Australia runs government-funded courses in Sydney and Melbourne, training people for junior web development and disability support work then connecting them with employers.
Brindley says jobseekers can also give themselves an edge by having the right behavioural skills and mindset - something also taught through Generation Australia courses.
They can aim to learn the behavioural skills they need or choose a career that aligns with the skills they already have.
She says jobseekers interested in disability support, for example, benefit from having empathy and resilience.
"An employer interviewing can tell within seconds whether you can handle yourself in those tough situations," she says.
"We find people who have experience in their family taking care of a grandparent will have an underlying level of empathy."
Disability support worker Lequesha Unsworth, 26, did not waste any time deciding to upskill after she lost her job at a gym following COVID-19 business shutdowns.
She did not qualify for JobKeeper or JobSeeker so was motivated to make a career change as soon as possible.
"I had about two weeks of questioning what I am going to do but then I had to think quick," she says.
"Every job I applied for, I didn't hear back.
"I knew having a qualification of some sort would put me above someone else."
She completed Generation Australia's seven-week, full-time disability support program then immediately landed a job at Brighter Access.
"Having that (partial certificate) made it easier to get in the door because they could see I knew what I was coming into," she says.
"(My advice for other jobseekers) is don't wait, do the things that will make you stand out.
"Do that course, learn a bit more about the job you are applying for, don't be afraid to put yourself out there.
"(When applying for jobs,) the worst you are going to get is a 'no' and you can learn from that."
Originally published as What job-seekers must do as competition spikes