How do you get a job during Covid-19?

Imran Malik is Employer Engagement Officer at Action West London and a regular face at our GRoW Coffee Mornings. Imran spoke to GRoW to share some of his ideas and advice about how to get a job in today’s challenging climate. 

Imran said “Due to the pandemic and the challenges with lockdown, many  businesses are uncertain about their future and how to survive with a downturn of trade, however, there are still many sectors still recruiting and it’s all about finding them, being open minded about changing career (maybe just for a short while) and approaching them in the right way.  With many more people now out of work applicants have to work smarter to get their CV to hit home and try to get that all important interview.

At Action West London we work with many training providers and employers who come directly to us first with jobs that they haven’t yet advertised on job boards such as Indeed and Reed.  They ask us to pre-screen potential candidates to source the right people for their vacancies, so it’s important for us to find out the skills people have in order to be able to achieve this.

The kind of vacancies that are out there right now tend to be in the field of logistics such as warehouse operatives, mail sorters and drivers for companies such as Amazon and Royal Mail. We have nurseries looking for lunch time assistants and kitchen assistants which are ideal jobs for lone parents or people looking to work part time, both qualified and unqualified teaching assistants and also apprenticeships for people looking to start a career in childcare.  NHS Track and Trace are looking for call handlers to work remotely and, they have a high demand for cleaners and porters.

These are jobs that are all currently available but in order to get your CV noticed my advice would be to tailor the CV to the job to show you have relevant skills or experience.   For example, if you have worked in the hospitality and retail sector before and now because of the pandemic you are out of work and looking to get into a different job such as call handling you must demonstrate the transferrable skills you have and make it stand out.  It is very important to get this information across in the first 5 or 6 sentences you write eg. “I have unfortunately lost my job in the hospitality sector but have many years of experience in engaging with customers which I can confidently take into a new role as a call handling.” Employers are now looking at hundreds of CV’s so it’s about grabbing their attention in the first paragraph and making them want to read more of your CV.

The Government are providing many opportunities at the moment for people to train and upskill and learn a different trade.  Much of the training is free to undertake and can be in the same or a different field of work that you are used to.  I feel it is very important for job seekers to take advantage of this opportunity as it not only benefits you by teaching you new skills and learning, but it also demonstrates to employers that you are taking the time to upskill and being proactive. This shows initiative and that if given the chance of employment, you will give it all you’ve got!

Due to the pandemic a lot of interviews are now being held online but it is important to still prepare and treat the interview in the same way as if it were a face-to-face interview.  My advice would be for you to try and find a quiet place in your home so there is less chance of being disturbed during the interview and make sure the lighting is good. Check your microphone and camera beforehand to make sure everything works the way it should and above all else, make sure you are presentable.  Treat it like a proper interview, dress smartly and give the best image and impression you can – even online first impression counts!  Come prepared, research the role you are applying for and think of some questions in advance that you would like to ask them. An interview is a two-way process so it’s important you find out as much as you can about the employer and the job too.

If you are interested in finding out more about any of the current vacancies we have available please speak to your GRoW Adviser who can help you tailor your CV and will work with us to get you noticed!”

Do you need extra help during Lockdown to get ready for work?

New GRoW Lockdown Online Training 

As lockdown continues we are all looking for ways to better use the time available.
This new programme is specially designed for busy mums who want to get back to work or start new training after lockdown.
All of this can be done on your smart phone.
20 spaces available 

Our offer

  • Three free online courses worth £75 – ranging from including ESOL  food & hygiene, IT and intros to lots of types of work.
  • £10 a month, for three months, to  help towards data costs for courses
  • A mentor to work with you online during lockdown, and afterwards
  • A CV that includes the skills learnt in lockdown
  • Online GRoW support group
  • Weekly email newsletter with a part-time jobs board to support work life balance

Who can join

  • Our funding is for mothers who live in London and are not working.
  • You mush have the right to work in the UK and an NI number.
  • If you are on benefits we will need to know which benefits.
This is an ESF funded programme and so only open to people not already on an ESF project
If you are already on a GRoW programme talk to your adviser about our existing on-line training support.
For more information please fill in the form below.

Are there any words you should or should not use in a CV?

by Mercedes Grant MIEP, Development Director and CV Workshop Co-ordinator at Belina Consulting

A CV has one function – to get your candidate an interview with a particular employer. It has to show why this person should get that job, so to begin with the key words are those that make sure their CV matches that employer’s requirements. That means each time a CV is sent it should be tailored.

What not to say:

Too many CVs contain strings of meaningless adjectives that cover as many bases as possible in their allotted two sides of A4.  A CV that begins “I am a hard worker; able to take instructions and work on my own initiative. I am honest, punctual and a great communicator” does not impress.

Your candidate may well be honest, hardworking, punctual and energetic or have a will to learn. But just ask yourself – is there anyone out there applying with a CV that says “I am lazy and a bad time keeper; curmudgeonly and antipathetic to work?  The key message is don’t just make a list of adjectives. An employer wants to have examples and to know that your candidate understands why these attributes are important. Let’s take a list of words that you might want to use and think about how we can best deploy them.

  • Confident
  • Creative
  • Dedicated
  • Helpful
  • Punctual
  • Team worker

You could say:

I am confident, creative and dedicated. I am always punctual and helpful and am able to work on my own and in a team

But far better to say:

With my NVQ level two in Childcare and recent experience at a Children’s Centre I am a confident childcare worker. Dedicated to helping children fulfil their potential, I make sure I am there early each day to prepare creative sessions and work with the whole team to create a safe and secure environment where children can develop. I am responsible for supporting individual children at play time and mealtimes. Each day I write a short report for parents and post a picture to their phones so they can see what their child has been doing.

Use more verbs

At Belina we love verbs. Particularly the simple past tense that usually ends in an ed.  This tense shows that they did the task themselves. Here is part of a list that we provide to our candidates, with examples from just the first letter of the Alphabet.

·       Accomplished

·       Achieved

·       Administered

·       Advised

·       Analysed

·       Approved

·       Applied

·       Arranged

·       Assessed

·       Assisted

·       Attained

We would help a candidate come up with a sentence that added value to the verb for example.

·       Assisted the team to meet its sales targets.

·       Achieved a certificate in Food Hygiene.

·       Applied the company’s Health and Safety rules and arranged for machines to be inspected.

Don’t worry about first or third person

I think formality is important in a CV, so make sure it is written in good clear prose, with correct spelling and punctuation. But I don’t think it really matters whether it is First or Third person, as long as you are consistent. Personally, I prefer the third person as it cuts out a lot of superfluous ‘I ams’, but sometimes it feels more personal, especially where there are human relationships involved, for example in care work and childcare, to write in the first person.


Focus Group in Hillingdon –  a discussion with single parents about universal credit rules to look for when their children are pre-school age

by Laura Dewar, Policy Officer, Gingerbread

In the middle of November GrOW kindly hosted a focus group of single parents at a library in Hillingdon.  There are just under 100,000 single parents who have moved onto universal credit in London and new rules for those with pre-school children to become job seekers.   The purpose of the focus group was to talk with single parents with young children about the practicalities of moving into work.  Gingerbread has just started a year-long research project on this issue and the focus group was an opportunity to hear about the key issues.  

Whilst single parents were keen to work they also thought that there were few part-time jobs to apply for and had concerns about childcare matching jobs.  Single parents talked about most jobs being advertised full-time.  There was fierce competition for any job advertised within school hours and these jobs were rare. Single parents also talked about the difficulty of having to deal with the on-line journal and apply for jobs on-line.  Most of the parents do not have a personal computer and have to rely on applying for jobs from their phone.  The technology is limited and it can be hard to complete applications on a mobile phone.  Single parents talked of the difficulty of jobcentres not allowing access to computers.

In terms of childcare single parents talked about the high cost of childcare for pre-school children. A single parent talked about her son being happily in nursery of fifteen hours but if she moved into a job, and she accessed the thirty hours of free childcare, that there was not space for her to do that at his nursery.  So if she moved into work she would have to change her son’s childcare (and she does not know if there are places elsewhere) and settle him into a new setting when he was happy at his current nursery.

The single parents who had already moved onto Universal Credit were not aware that there were different rules for those with pre-school aged children.  They were just told to find a job of at least sixteen hours.  None were told about the flexibility that could allow them to train for up to a year.  A single parent was at university.  She felt under pressure under universal credit to look for work even though she is studying. The single parent gets some help with her childcare costs but has to work as a cleaner at the weekends in order to meet the shortfall in childcare costs.

Single parents in the group were unclear how much money they would keep when they moved into a job. Work coaches did not provide calculations in how much better off you might be if you moved into work.

A number of the single parents have children with disabilities and claimed additional benefits to support their child. There was a lack of knowledge about how much these single parents could work before they lost benefits.  Again the financial gains of working were not made clear by work coaches.

The focus group was a valuable way of talking with single parents about universal credit.  The single parents shared their experience of looking for a job, accessing childcare and the jobcentre.   The single parents were keen to work (many thought this was more reasonable when their children were at school age) or to study to improve their job prospects.  Many were left confused by the universal credit rules and how much better off or not they would be moving into work.  The focus group was a vital first step in Gingerbread’s research project and we are incredibly grateful to the single parents who shared their lived experience.

Laura Dewar, Policy Officer, Gingerbread