Survey: Looking for work during the pandemic


  • 81% of jobseekers are willing to retrain as part of a new job offer
  • Three quarters of us have used lockdown to invest in our development
  • Flexible working now almost as important as salary in the search for a new role



81% of UK jobseekers admitted they’re willing to make concessions if they need to retrain for a new role, showing how looking for work is changing as a result of COVID-19.

But how else are people adapting their approach during the pandemic – and what measures are people taking to be proactive in their search for work?

The team at Keep Britain Working surveyed more than 600 current jobseekers across the UK to find out:


A long road to recovery

The latest ONS figures suggest that the number of paid employees in the UK fell by 649,000 between March and June. So it’s perhaps not surprising that more than half (58%) of the jobseekers who took part in the survey were unemployed. 

However, 26% of them had become unemployed since lockdown started – with a further 10% currently finding themselves furloughed by their employers. 

Of those who aren’t applying for roles right now, but said they were interested to see what’s out there, the number of furloughed employees rose to almost one in five. 

With employment status a cause of concern for many, it seems UK workers are taking their own initiative when it comes to their next step. 


Reskilling part of the ‘new normal’?

The overwhelming majority (81%) of jobseekers surveyed said they were willing to retrain, in order to find work.

Half of these respondents also indicated that they’d reskill outside of working hours, if necessary – demonstrating that a proactive approach to training could become part of the ‘new normal’ for jobseekers.

Other concessions current jobseekers admitted they’d consider were a longer probationary period (42%), contractual restrictions such as the reimbursement of training costs (40%), and a lower starting salary (23%). 


Self-development is on the rise

One key positive seen throughout the pandemic is the rising trend of self-improvement. 

In fact, people are investing in themselves now, more than ever – with over three quarters (77%) admitting that they’ve used these challenging times to focus on self-development.

Reasons for upskilling included to enhance existing skills (36%), to develop new skills (36%), and to support a career change (15%).

One in five also stated that free courses and training would be the most beneficial thing they could receive at this point in their search.


Flexible working is no longer just a perk 

A flexible approach to work was seen as one of the biggest pull factors in deciding on a potential employer. 

Although still marginally outranked by employee rewards/benefits (36%), a third (33%) of all survey respondents wanted the option of flexible hours and arrangements.  

This far outranked their desire for company stability, a good reputation for career development, and company stature/size. 

Similarly, work-life balance was seen as being as important as salary/location in deciding between two potential job offers. 


Lockdown still lingering 

The only exception to those prioritising flexible working were people who previously worked in industries most affected during the lockdown period – such as beauty, leisure, hospitality and retail. 

For this group, job security and stability came top of the list of desires, just outranking rewards and benefits. 

So, as we emerge from the lockdown period, employers may need to work harder to ensure their staff feel safe. Especially when it comes to their future.    


How can help?  

We’re proud to support the Keep Britain Working campaign. 

The objective is simple: to help preserve jobs and to protect livelihoods.

That means connecting businesses with a growing demand for workers with those who may have been furloughed or been made redundant from other roles.

It also means giving the UK workforce a voice when it comes to suggesting the best ways to deal with the coronavirus crisis.  

If you’re looking for work right now, there are thousands of roles added to every single day. We also have a wide range of Career Advice for every stage of the jobseeking journey, as well as courses for anything you’re interested in learning.

So no matter what you need help with, we’re here for you.  

Together, we can #KeepBritainWorking

Introducing: Keep Britain Working



Searching for your new start? View all available jobs now. 


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