Straight road leading off into the distance

From September 1st, business that have put their staff on furlough will have to pay 10% of their wages and on October 1st this rises to 20% until the furlough scheme officially ends on October 31st.

The so-called Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme was a policy set up by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak to help companies retain their staff who would have been out of work when companies don’t have any custom and would ordinarily have to make some of their staff redundant. 

Almost 10 million people in the UK have had their wages paid by the government at some point during the coronavirus crisis, and since July those that had been furloughed were able to go back to work part time if they employer needed them. This meant that they would still be paid full time even when working reduced hours.

However, with the furlough scheme coming to a close, if you are someone that is still not back to work, what can you do to make the most of your time between then and now?

If you think you are going to be made redundant

It’s likely that you’ve kept in touch with your employer and know what’s going on with the business while you’ve been away. If you think it’s likely that you won’t be returning to your position, what should you be doing so that you’ve a better chance of gaining employment at the end of it?

In your current line of work

The first thing to consider is whether there is still a career for you in the industry you are in. If there is, looking for work should hopefully be a more straightforward process, and mainly a matter of putting together your CV and cover letter, contacting the right recruiters, updating your social media, and looking through the right jobs boards. You could also look at some of our blogs such as 5 skills you’ll need post COVID and 7 ways to ace your Zoom interview to help you back into work in the new normal. 

As you won’t have been working for the last six months, with a large number of redundancies likely to occur at once, what can you do to stay ahead of the curve? You may have already been learning a new skill during your time away from work, but if you haven’t, now’s the time to add to your skills mix. You could also explore taking on some pro-bono or volunteering work which will show employers that you take an interest in your profession and you’ll have an extra something to talk about when you go for interviews. 

In an alternative line of work

It’s highly likely that technology might take over all your day-to-day activities so that your job description won’t look quite the same or that the industry has been so decimated that you really need to think about an alternative career.

If this sounds like you, you firstly need to get a bearing on what skills and knowledge you’ve got from your work experience and anything else you do, whether that’s volunteering, looking after others, or running a side hustle. With this, you can then see that other careers you might be suitable for you. Our app, iShine, is a great way to achieve this, and you can see alternative careers you might be best placed for as well as opportunities in your area. You can also see where your skills let you down and how to strengthen them. 

Our Career Ready in 6 Weeks challenge can also help you get back on track ready for when the job opportunities come around. You'll be guided through the problems you are currently facing, helping you to understand what lies ahead in your future career and helping you to set manageable career goals. You'll be asked to reflect on your current situation, and there will be some hands-on activities along the way. 

If you’ve got an alternative career in mind you can start working towards being employable in that career. This might involve gaining more skills and experience, so that you are qualified for the job and can talk about your development in interviews and on your CV. There are a number of ways in which you can do this, depending on what you are interested in acquiring, with your main options at this current time being volunteering or online learning.

If you’ve got the right qualifications for your new chosen career you can start putting together your CV and cover letter. We’ve information on career change cover letters and career change interviews for you to explore in your own time. 

If your new career is going to take you longer to work towards, and involves some serious retraining, what can you do in the meantime to keep yourself going? Could you take any job - a job you normally feel you would be overqualified for - to tide you over, or is there a side hustle you could engage in? This might include selling or making something or obtaining some freelance work. 

If you are going back to the office

If you do have the pleasure of going back to the office in October, now’s the time to consider what the new working world is going to look like. For peace of mind, if it’s possible, find out what your working life might entail. Will you be part of an office bubble? How will meetings take place? Will you need any training on returning to the office? Will you be able to go out for lunch? Will they be staggering start times? Will you be working from home and if so, how often?

If you are unsure about returning to the workplace, online courses such as Coursera’s Communication Strategies for a Virtual Age can offer you the ability to update some of your virtual communication skills. 

After six months out the office, you might also have found that your routines have slipped. We’ve all been there! Having to wake up at 7am after going to bed after midnight every night will be a jolt to the system, so take the time to ease into your work routine. Start to set your alarm to the time you will need to wake up, and start going to bed at a reasonable hour!

It’s unlikely that you’ll receive time off between October and Christmas once you get back to the work, with a normal Christmas currently touch and go, so if possible, spend some time away from home. COVID has led us all to climb the walls, and October to December is going to be TOUGH.

Make the most of it

Finally, enjoy the time you have now. Indulge in your passions and hobbies, spend time with family, and cherish the everyday moments in life before the stress of work or having to look for work with no income takes over.