As the rate of infections and the number of deaths from the coronavirus slow down, companies across Ireland are beginning the process of reopening.

The economic picture looks very different from what it was pre-COVID-19. Unemployment, particularly among people aged 18–25, has risen steadily with some estimates saying that it’s recently peaked as high as 50%.

The dearth of jobs in recent months is in stark contrast to the outlook at the start of the year with many tech companies, in particular, looking to grow their EMEA operations aggressively in Dublin.

Some of the graduates we work with are currently in the hiring process and there have been some commonalities between their experiences to date.

Therefore, we think that it’s important to examine how hiring practices are shaping up and changing as companies once again look to start bringing new talent into their organizations.

#1 First impressions count

One of the more unfortunate byproducts of COVID-19 has been that the market has now switched from a candidate-driven market to a company-driven one.

This means that there will inevitably be a depressive effect on people’s wages as a result of a higher unemployment rate. Whereas before when candidates would have been given a lot of choice on what role they wanted next, now if you don’t want to accept the wage you’re being offered companies will go and find someone who will.

Subsequently, it’s never been more important to make sure that your job searching and application skills are razor-sharp. Update your LinkedIn, tidy your CV up, and draft a well-written cover letter.

You can find out more about how you can do each of those things here, here and here.

#2 There will be opportunities

There have undoubtedly been industries that have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with tourism, food, and hospitality being the first to come to mind.

For graduates we’re currently working with, this problem has been exacerbated by the fact that the majority of those employed in these areas tend to be younger and still involved in third-level education.

However, while opportunities have temporarily dried up in those industries, others have become available elsewhere. We update our on a weekly basis and have seen a steady stream of companies starting the hiring process again over the last few weeks.

In fact, many companies never stopped hiring for certain positions during the height of the pandemic. Obviously, it’s still not where it was pre-coronavirus as businesses are still unsure how they’ll be able to proceed over the next few months but there will be opportunities available to you.

If you can’t find something that you’re a fit for, what you can do in the meantime is take the time to objectively assess your strengths and weaknesses, research the market and find companies who need your skills. If you think you have a skill shortage, invest either some time and/or money in filling it.

#3 Interviews will feel different

In all likelihood, video interviews are going to be the norm for most initial interactions with a company. So it’s important to ensure that you’re prepared for them. We have an article on how you can do that here.

Hiring processes will vary from one company to the next as they are clearly still trying to find out what works best for them. We’ve gotten feedback from some recruiters that the entire hiring process for some businesses will be taking place online.

Others have said an in-person interview is not entirely out of the question as long as strict social distancing measures are in place — meaning no more awkward and sweaty handshakes!

#4 Get used to working remotely

Many firms have been working through the entire process from interviews to onboarding remotely and will continue to do so. Major players such as Google, Microsoft and Facebook have already informed their workers that they are likely to be working from home through to 2021. In all likelihood, other tech companies will follow suit.

Once you make it through the interview and hiring process, your first day on the job will likely be working from home, having had your laptop and other IT equipment shipped out to you.

The research is scarce on what the remote onboarding experience is like at the moment but there has been significant investment from the likes of DocuSign, Google, Twitter and Shopify to name a few to make the transition as seamless as possible.

#5 Virtual career fairs will be a thing

Instead of going to a local convention centre or exhibition area, career fairs will now be hosted online.

While I’ve no idea as to how exactly these will work, there are some virtual career fairs scheduled in the calendar, which you can register for here.

As with most things of this nature, these are already very big in the States but whether they’ll have crossover appeal to graduates here remains to be seen.