Covid-19 has had a series of unfortunate impacts on our lives, right down to some of us sadly losing our jobs as the economy suffers. Last month it was reported that over 6.5 million jobs could be lost due to the economic fallout from lockdown, with 29 per cent of final year university students losing their jobs and 28 per cent having their graduate job offer deferred or withdrawn.

With concerns over how easily we’ll be able to get back on the career ladder when the situation improves, employability is a major consideration. Whether you’ve been made redundant or still have your job and are looking for ways to spend all this new free time, we’ll take a look at how we can use lockdown to become more employable. Many organisations are providing free courses, tools, and tutorials to support workers during this trying time.

Here, we’ll take a look at steps you can take to develop your skillset for your career.

Online courses

Google searches for ‘online courses’ skyrocketed to an interest score of 100, the highest score possible, on the 29th March shortly after lockdown. The Open University reported that 24 per cent of employees have enrolled with additional learning opportunities to enhance their CV. To avoid risk of being obsolete and outperformed by rival candidates, take a look at online courses you could get involved in to develop your skillset for a job you have or to help you progress. This doesn’t need to be an online degree but can be free online micro credentials to demonstrate your appetite for learning and commitment to your career.

Source: Google Trends

Use this time to take advantage of online learning to develop the skills you might be required of in years to come, if you want to learn how to use certain software, or to brush up on soft skills. There is something for everyone. Speaking to your boss could help focus you in the right direction for what would be most beneficial to yourself and the organisation you work for. Take a look at Google Digital Garage, OpenLearn, FutureLearn, and HubSpot Academy.

Although it has been reported that there’s been a shift from people pursuing technical skills to personal development and wanting to learn about stress management, resilience, and personal productivity, when exploring which online courses were being searched for the most on Google, it was revealed that business, marketing, and digital marketing had received an influx of interest after lockdown, whereas searches for personal development courses had not. It’s important to remember not to neglect personal development — it’s equally as important as technical skills. Personal development and soft skills are a great contributor to the cultural fit of a workplace and how well you integrate with values and other staff members.

You can also use this time to develop essential critical skills like time management, initiative, communication, and teamwork. Learning tips and strategies by successful people in the real world can help you integrate new practices, so get looking!

Get a hobby

We’ve all got interests that we’d like to pursue ‘if only we had the time’. Well, now we do — and we can boast about them in the dreaded hobbies and interests section of our CVs. Picking up a hobby is another way to show your passion for learning as well as to help employers see you personable and interesting. It’s hard to summarise ourselves in our CVs, and this will certainly add an edge.

A few ideas are:

  • Learn a coding language
  • Learn how to cook
  • Learn an instrument
  • Learn gardening
  • Paint or draw
  • Read books
  • Go for hikes or walks and take an interest in nature

You can also take on hobbies that have a direct link to your career. For example, if you’re a budding solicitor interested in learning about employment tribunals, then law podcasts could help both your interest and knowledge!

Establish or improve your online presence

A strong digital presence can be beneficial if you’re looking for a job as well as benefit existing employees in certain industries that are reliant on LinkedIn integration. If you don’t have an account, make one — it can be extremely handy in making connections and networking.

Make sure you tidy up your other social channels and have appropriate privacy settings so that you don’t shoot yourself in the foot with unprofessional images or statuses with inappropriate content and bad language. If this is too much effort, consider setting up separate social media accounts for work.

Follow organisations and professional bodies that are relevant to keep up-to-date with news and insights into your sector. Like, comment, and share posts with colleagues and peers to create relationships and a sense of support.

Perfect your CV

After all this is done and you feel like you’ve achieved your goals and developed as an employee, include it on your CV to get your foot in the door for interviews or to get you ahead of the game for that promotion you’ve been after. Check out this guide to make your CV include all the relevant information and stand out.

Although it can be easy to slip into a lethargic and unproductive routine, this time can be a catalyst for your career to kickstart and motivate you to work even harder.