As the consequences of COVID-19 continues to impact global economies and markets, the issue and impact of ‘displaced workers’ – those who were retrenched, laid off or still furloughed – has had a fundamental impact on the world of work. And they continue to navigate a uniquely challenging period of trying to secure a new job.

With the pandemic impacting Australia at the start of the year, the biggest risk for displaced workers is that they may face long periods of unemployment – and even if they do find a new job, they tend to be paid less and have fewer benefits than in the jobs they held prior to their displacement.

However, a research paper found that the adverse employment effects of retrenchment dissipate over time – good news for job seekers.

So while unemployment is at an all time high across many countries, helping displaced workers get back into good jobs quickly is a key goal of labour market policy, as demonstrated by the recent Australian Budget 2020/21 that was “all about jobs”, in order to revive the economy.

RELATED: Federal budget’s major policies to drive jobs creation

Particularly important during times of disruption, displaced workers can turn to experienced recruiters who are equipped to help place them into jobs quickly and offering that additional bit of help in pivoting to the new normal. Recruiters are also aware that displaced workers are now a huge untapped talent source but the objective of identifying top talent still remains.

An upturned market: the Australian unemployment crisis

Australia’s economy has undoubtedly been turned on its head and the scale of COVID-19’s impact has been felt across all industries. In August, the Reserve Bank of Australia’s forecast for the December quarter-end was:

  • an unemployment rate of about 10%,
  • GDP contraction of around 6%, and
  • a 17% decline in business investment.


While the pandemic’s impact is different at a state level, the overall unemployment rate has hit 7.1%, the highest in close to two decades . Hundreds of thousands of workers have been impacted and are still feeling the effects.

Recent figures found job seekers outnumber vacant jobs by as much as 106 to one.

RELATED: Overcoming setbacks in your job search

Navigating unemployment and displacement

2020 has seen unprecedented business closures and layoffs amid economic uncertainty and the highest level of unemployment in years. While drastic, downsizing staff has become the unavoidable reality for many businesses and their workers.

This presents a challenging set of circumstances for those out of work that are trying to bounce back and looking for a new role. But there have been silver linings and good news stories that encourage displaced workers to stay optimistic. For example, a number of Qantas employees that have found success as superstars in another field.

This goes to show that displaced workers will have to take a smarter approach when job hunting in Australia, including:

  • being realistic about the job opportunities that are available, 
  • being openminded to working in a completely new and unfamiliar industry,
  • working different hours to what you are normally used to,
  • considering contract work or contract projects,
  • travelling further to work in a location you’d normally pass on,
  • compromising on employee benefits such as leave entitlements if you were previously employed full-time but are applying for temp/casual or part-time jobs,
  • really selling your transferrable skills on your resume and cover letter,
  • upskilling and acquiring new qualifications,
  • volunteering, possibly in your desired field,
  • increasing your networking efforts to discover job opportunities,
  • building out your network of contacts,
  • not being too proud to ask for help, and
  • working with a recruiter, careers advisor or coach.


RELATED: Why upskilling and learning during disruption is crucial 

Getting the right advice and direction

Professional recruiters are uniquely placed to help place job seeking candidates quickly in this new normal climate, as businesses around Australia continue to have a need to hire and use recruiters for these jobs – albeit at a much lower rate since the pandemic hit.

Experienced recruiters are also primed to assist with CVs, cover letters, interview advice and preparation to help secure the best candidates to put forward to the businesses they closely work with. They understand the future challenges that businesses and their market face, and balance it with a shortlist of qualified candidates who will essentially add the most value to the company and ultimately stay for the long term.

Now, more than ever, recruiters are highly mindful of ensuring job opportunities are in front of those who need it most, as it aligns to their day-to-day outcome of changing people’s lives.

Need more job search advice? Visit our careers page for helpful tips.

Looking for your next great role? Search our latest jobs here or contact a specialist recruitment consultant today.

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