Big Issue Vendor

Here’s what it’s like looking for work during the pandemic

New figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show GDP shrank 9.9 per cent last year, the largest decline in modern history
Increasing numbers are being impacted by redundancy during the Covid-19 pandemic. Image credit: Pxhere

When Paul Smith was made redundant last week after 24 years in his job, he could almost see it coming. 

The 49-year-old from Glasgow was working in printing for a local newspaper and had seen colleagues come and go, both before and during the pandemic. 

Now, he is having to navigate what he describes as a “new world” of recruitment agencies, job interviews and social media, something he admits isn’t easy after working full time for more than two decades. 

Lockdowns have taken income away from hundreds of Big Issue sellers. Support The Big Issue and our vendors by signing up for a subscription. 

“There was 15 of us, and it’s now five. So you’re seeing [people leave] and it just happened to be my time. You’ve got to accept it,” Paul told the Big Issue. 

He isn’t letting unemployment get him down and is determined to find work, posting a message on Twitter asking for any help available finding a job. He has since had several job offers and an interview. 

“I put that tweet up, I said I’m a loyal, trustworthy, hard-working man,” he added. “I reached out. At your weakest point, that’s when you find your strength.” 

But Paul would be forgiven for not feeling quite so optimistic about the current job market. 

Paul Smith, 49, was recently lost his job but he isn't letting it get him down. Image credit: Supplied.
Paul Smith
Paul Smith, 49, was recently lost his job but he isn't letting it get him down. Image credit: Supplied.

New figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show GDP shrank 9.9 per cent last year, the largest decline in modern history.

With 2.6 million people expected to be unemployed in the UK by 2021, the Covid-19 pandemic and repeated lockdowns have hit the economy hard. 

Responding to the latest ONS figures, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the economy had experienced a “serious shock” due to the crisis. 

“While there are some positive signs of the economy’s resilience over the winter, we know that the current lockdown continues to have a significant impact on many people and businesses,” he said.

“That’s why my focus remains fixed on doing everything we can to protect jobs, businesses and livelihoods. 

“At the budget, I will set out the next stage of our plan for jobs, and the support we’ll provide through the next phase of pandemic.”

Laura Hartley, a recruitment specialist who has run her own recruitment consultancy for 13 years, told the Big Issue that in the challenging post-pandemic job market, it was important candidates stood out from the crowd and highlighted what they could bring to the table. 

“The current challenge is that for any one job you’re looking at hundreds of applications,” Hartley said. 

“One of the things we do with our career coaching is we ask the candidate to look at something different, so it’s not a CV about their achievements and what they’ve done before, but about what they can bring to a company.”

Paul said he hoped going into interviews and being himself would help him secure a new role in the post-pandemic landscape. He is seeing a careers advisor and working with a recruitment firm who have helped him dust off his CV. 

“It’s about going in and being open and honest and showing your weaknesses and your strengths,” he added.

“I’ve got a CV now and I’m getting into LinkedIn. I was on the phone to a careers advisor today for about an hour and she was just going through things with me and asking me lots of questions. 

“There is a lot of help out there but you’ve just got to reach out and that’s what I’ve been saying, when life goes bad, you don’t go bad with it.” 

Have you been affected by the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic? The Big Issue is committed to supporting its readers and find ways to help people stay in their jobs and in their homes through our Ride Out Recession Alliance. Send your stories and ideas to rora@bigissue.com to help us support those who need it most.