It’s going to be a rough six months for Australians, with a 20 per cent fall in work and wages.

Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe,  the country’s top banker, warned economists don’t expect a turnaround before September, by which time unemployment will be running at 10 per cent or 1.4 million people.

But that’s just a prediction.  As Dr Lowe said:“As the economic data rolls in over coming months, they will present a very sobering picture of the state of our economy. There will be many reports of record declines in economic activity.

“As Australians digest this economic news, I would ask that we keep in mind that this period will pass, and that a bridge has been built to get us to the other side. With the help of that bridge, we will recover and the economy will grow strongly again.”

And he added: “Whatever the timing of the recovery, when it does come, we should not be expecting that we will return quickly to business as usual.  Rather, the twin health and economic emergencies that we are experiencing now will cast a shadow over our economy for some time to come.

“In the months ahead, we are likely to lose some businesses, despite best efforts, and some of these businesses will not reopen.”

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So what should we do?

According to a LinkedIn survey of 1,000 Australian workers, job seekers are worried –  job seekers scored -9 (on a scale from -100 to +100) on the Workforce Confidence Index, a measure of how people are feeling about their job, financial and career outlooks.

The survey reveals:

  • Overall, 27% of everyone surveyed across Australia said they plan to increase time spent looking for work over the next two weeks
  • A quarter said they plan to spend more time working on their resumes and online profiles.
  • And 44% said they’ll also use that time for online learning.
  • 65% said they expect the number of available roles to decrease over the next two weeks, while 55% think responses from recruiters will also fall during that time.

In such a competitive jobs market, what do you need to do?

Recruitment specialists Hays gives this advice to candidates:

Applicants queuing

1. Write a great resume: Make a good first impression. Use a common program, such as MS  Word, and start with your contact details. List your education and qualifications and then your work experience in reverse chronological order, beginning with the most recent. If you have your own website profiling your work, include the URL, but do not submit it instead of a resume. Proof-read your resume and take the time to get it right. Read more on writing a good CV/resume here

2. Sell yourself: Highlight one or two unique selling points to differentiate yourself in your resume and in an interview. For example, were you one of the highest achievers in your university degree? Have you improved customer retention levels or led a project successfully? Have relevant examples and statistics at your fingertips.

3. Experience: The most valuable skill a jobseeker can have is relevant experience. For seasoned  professionals, this means matching your existing skills and experience with the job requirements. For graduates, this means gaining relevant industry experience through volunteer work or a study placement.

4. Use your networks: Contact a recruiter, search job websites, use social media sites such as LinkedIn and talk to your networks, industry bodies and university alumni.

5. Develop new skills: Stay on top of industry trends to demonstrate to an employer that as their industry and business move forward, you are moving forward with it.

Our top five interview mistakes to avoid:

1. Arriving late for your interview: Interviewers have heard every excuse when it comes to candidates arriving late. There should be no excuse. Anticipate traffic or public transport delays and leave the house earlier than you normally would. Often, you will only get one chance to get your foot in the door.

2. Failure to prepare: Another common jobseeker mistake is to fail to research the organisation prior to your interview. A company’s website, professional bodies, annual reports, your networks, and your recruitment expert will help you gain a better understanding of the business and how your experience and skills match. Use this to prepare for likely interview questions and prepare questions to ask at the end of the interview.

3. Dressing inappropriately: You should look professional, act professionally and dress professionally for your interview.

4. Inability to listen: Listen carefully, give the interviewer your full attention and answer the questions asked. If you are asked behavioural questions, such as “Describe an occasion when …” you need to answer with a relevant real-life example. Do not evade the question as it is more obvious than you think.

5. Inappropriate use of social media: A growing number of employers are now extending their vetting process to include social media, particularly when they feel a candidate might not be what they are portraying themselves to be in an interview. Change your privacy settings and be sensible in the content you post online. Failure to be aware of your digital footprint is a huge mistake in today’s market.

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