Many employees, contractors, freelancers, casual workers and sole traders are facing a range of employment challenges due to coronavirus, including:
- being made redundant or stood down
- being directed to take accrued leave (with or without pay)
- working reduced hours or remotely
- self isolation or having to care for a loved one
For many workers, the prospect or reality of losing all or part of their income can present real challenges to their personal, professional and financial wellbeing.
Learn more at Moneysmart about how to cope with being unexpectedly unemployed.
What you need to know
Finding new or additional work during the pandemic can be more challenging because so many industries have either scaled back, closed or moved to a more remote way of working.
Whether you've lost your job, had your hours reduced or been directed to work from home, there are things you can do to get through this situation, including:
Getting ready to rejoin the workforce after suddenly finding yourself unemployed, or if you're looking to change careers, can involve many tasks that you may be unfamiliar with. These could include:
- assessing how your current skills and experience might be applied to other jobs
- deciding on the type of job you’d like and the roles available
- finding where jobs are listed plus how to browse and filter your search
- writing a resume and preparing for an interview.
What’s Next? is run by the Australian Government and helps you decide what to do if you've been retrenched or you're looking for a new career. It follows 3 steps:
- Where do I stand? - help with navigating the retrenchment process as well as support options for all job seekers
- Get your next job - tips on understanding your local jobs market and how to go about finding work
- Try something new - information on education and retraining options as well as identifying transferable skills.
Match existing skills with new jobs
Despite the uncertainty in the job market due to coronavirus, it’s important to understand how the skills and experiences you’ve gained in past jobs might set you up for new or different roles in the future.
Skills Match is an interactive online tool from Job Outlook. It helps identify how your existing skills can be transferred to new employment options.
It’s a 3-step process:
- enter the jobs you’ve held, including any unpaid work
- Skills Match then lists a broad selection of skills and expertise, broken down into various categories, associated with these past jobs
- it then outlines a range of new job ideas that use similar skills for you to consider.
Writing a resume and cover letter
A resume or CV and cover letter are your first opportunity to make a good impression with recruiters and employers.
Even if your work experience is limited, a poorly presented or badly written resume could make it more difficult to progress your application or even get an interview.
This is especially so as employers and recruiters might be dealing with lots of applicants or inquiries as a result of workforce movements due to coronavirus.
The Australian Government's jobactive website has several resources, including:
- templates and suggested examples
- a video demonstrating how to tailor your resume
- a find a job blog, which includes articles and other tips to help get your resume and cover letter in the best shape possible.
Job interviews can be nerve wracking. Practising your interview technique beforehand can:
- help reduce any stress and anxiety
- boost your confidence of performing as well as you can
- highlight gaps in your knowledge so you can be as fully prepared as possible.
Another important pre-interview task is to research the company you're looking to join.
Doing so means you’ll have information to relate specific to the company and the role, which can show you have initiative and enthusiasm.
This could improve your chances of succeeding or at least advancing to the next stage of the recruitment process.
As for the interview, there are common questions that often arise. Prepare your answers in advance and practise out loud how you’d respond. Examples of general questions could cover:
- your experience - “Tell me about yourself” and “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”
- reasons for applying - “Why did you apply for this role?”
- career objectives - “Where do you see yourself in one/two/five years?”
- how you identified and managed a challenging situation (if applicable) - “Tell me about a problem you had at work and how you solved it.”
If you’ve been made redundant or temporarily stood down from your job as a result of coronavirus, there is the option to explore interim sources of income until something more permanent comes along.
Social media platforms like Facebook, Gumtree and Instagram are where many of these opportunities are being posted and shared.
Currently there are numerous short-term and casual vacancies for workers across a wide range of industries, including:
- healthcare, nursing, aged care, social work
- call centre and customer service staff
- cleaning and workplace hygiene
- government office admin to help process extra welfare applications and payments
- packers and drivers for grocery stores and supermarkets
- nannies and tutors
- Harvest Trail - connecting farmers with seasonal labourers
- mining and agriculture.
Job search websites
- search for jobs using keywords and filters
- set up job alerts
- create a profile or store a resume
- make working from home easier to manage
The Australian Government jobactive website and app also provides hints and tips to:
- help your job search
- make your resume and cover letter stand out.
If there are specific employers or companies you’d like to work for, visit the careers section of their website or one of their social media channels, like LinkedIn or Twitter.
Even if there are no suitable jobs advertised, you can often register your interest and preferences and be notified if a role that matches your criteria becomes available in the future.
Employment or recruitment agencies are companies that match people to jobs. Some specialise in particular kinds of jobs or industries.
Visit their websites to search for available roles and other job finding resources.
If there are no jobs that match your skills and experience you can often upload your resume or register an expression of interest.
Jobs in government
There is a wide range of jobs, careers, professional development options, as well as training and education opportunities offered across local, state and federal governments.
Jobs in government cover many business areas, including:
- business or community services
- communications, human resources and brand
- economic development and infrastructure
- science and the environment
- finance and treasury
- tourism and recreation.
You can find general information, application checklists, vacancies and more resources for:
- Local government at the careers at council
- NSW State Government at I work for NSW
- the Commonwealth Government's jobactive and Jobs Hub.
Gig or collaborative economy roles
When customers and service providers come together via a digital platform such as a website, or mobile app, this is called the collaborative economy. It’s often known as the gig economy.
People offering their services in the gig economy usually do so on a temporary or casual basis. They are sometimes known as contingent or on-demand workers.
That could be delivering a pizza or driving a person from their home to the airport. It could be a freelance copywriter supplying marketing material for a client's campaign.
Ride-sharing service like Uber, OLA and Didi are examples of the gig economy. Other gig-type work includes:
- Airtasker, an online community peer-to-peer marketplace to outsource small jobs, find local services or hire flexible staff
- freelancing or business consulting roles across a range of industries
- hospitality and on-demand labour hire
- caregiver - taking care of the elderly, babysitting, or even pet sitting
- renting out a spare room or home on Airbnb.
There is a range of government services, financial assistance packages and startup advisories to help you start your own business, including:
- NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment outlines what you need to start a business
- Service NSW is making it easier for you to do business with a free, dedicated Business Concierge
- Jobs for NSW provides grants and loans for startups and emerging businesses
- business.gov.au lists government funding and support programs from across government to help businesses grow.
New Business Assistance
For individuals not in employment, education or training and interested in running their own business, the Australian Government offers New Business Assistance with NEIS.
The New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS) helps by providing eligible people with:
- accredited small business training
- mentoring and support programs
- financial support options.
Volunteering provides a chance to take on new experiences as well as give something back to the wider community.
This could be especially helpful with so many elderly people experiencing self isolation at home, many of whom may require medicine and meals to be delivered.
Your contribution can be part time, casual, or even full time. Other possible benefits of volunteering include:
- making new friends and contacts
- improved health and wellbeing
- the chance to rediscover a long-lost passion or hobby.
An organisation like GoVolunteer has general information and lists of organisations that may have a shortage of volunteers due to coronavirus.
You can also search for a position based on keywords, your availability and location at the Centre of Volunteering.
Timebanking is a community program where members exchange their services or skills for jobs needed to be done. It is free to join.
When you voluntarily perform a task for a member, you earn time credits. Later, you can then use those credits to receive services you’re interested in. It creates community connections through shared experiences.
For example, if you have computer or IT skills, you could:
- give an hour of time to someone needing this
- then use that hour of ‘credit’ to have someone help you move furniture or fix your pushbike.