UK unemployment rate rises: where to look for jobs

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The UK has seen unemployment rise sharply this year, increasing to 4.8% in the three months to September. With more than two million people still on furlough, the UK unemployment rate is unlikely to flatten soon.

What’s the story behind rising unemployment in the UK?

In the 16 -24 age group the unemployment rate is very high, at 14.6%. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, fewer opportunities are currently available for young people leaving full time education. Also on the lookout for new jobs are more than 300,000 people made redundant during the summer. Further redundancies are expected as businesses fail due to lockdown policies.

The immediate future of the jobs market is uncertain, and forecasters are not able to predict exactly when the situation will improve.

What’s the government doing about the unemployment rate?

The government is planning a £3 billion green investment package. While such initiatives may not reduce the UK unemployment rate in the short term, it is nevertheless worth exploring the possibility of retraining in sustainable industries, which are likely to receive support.

What are the most effective methods for finding work right now? 

There are two approaches that could prove effective in helping you find work in these challenging times. One is to start small, exploring local opportunities to get your foot back on the employment ladder. The other is to think big and see unemployment as an opportunity to take your career in a new direction.

Each approach offers a number of options – let’s take a look.

1. Start small

If work comes your way, no matter how small, insignificant, or low paid, consider accepting it. It could be the beginning of a career in a new field, or it could at least provide a networking opportunity. Keep claiming Universal Credit if you are on a low income.

Stay alert

Hours spent trawling through online job boards such as Monster and Indeed can be demoralising. Set up email alerts for the work you prefer or are qualified for. Job hunt on the go with an app such as glassdoor. 

Be sociable

When the UK unemployment rate is high, most jobs will be filled very quickly. Keep in touch with friends and family who may hear of something suitable for you, or be able to offer a recommendation. 

Increasingly, social media is the place to ‘meet’ employers, promote yourself and spot opportunities. If you find social media stressful, set a timer and network for short periods only. 

Go freelance

Freelancer boards such as Upwork and Fiverr can help you land a few gigs that can lead to becoming established in your area of expertise. Alternatively, earning as a freelancer can keep your finances above water until you find something more permanent.

Stay local

Apart from visiting the government’s find a job service, there are other ways to connect with opportunities in your neighbourhood.

Non-essential shops may be closed, but look on noticeboards in supermarkets, takeaways and newsagents. If you have skills to offer, put up a card or flyer. Keep in touch with online communities such as Next Door

2. Think big

Just because the UK unemployment rate is high, it doesn’t mean that dreams and ambitions have to be put on hold. Keep working towards your career goals with a targeted approach.

Company websites

Regularly visiting the vacancies pages on company websites is essential to avoid missing out. Candidates would be expected to know everything there is to know about the employer in an interview anyway. 

Recruitment agencies

A recruitment agency works like a dating agency, matching the right people with the right employers. They will advise on how to optimise your chances of getting employed in your chosen field. 

Cold email

Setting your sights on an ideal job? Don’t rule out cold emailing. With the right technique, it’s a way of introducing yourself to an employer directly, ensuring that your CV is in front of the right person – before it gets lost under a pile of other applications.


Sending out the same CV for every job is no longer considered sufficient. You should update and tweak your CV so that it reflects exactly what each job specification requires. Taking the time to do this will significantly increase the likelihood of getting an interview.


Unemployment, while unpleasant, can offer the chance you have been waiting for to do something new. Use the time to take a course. It may seem unwise to dip into savings while you are out of work, but paying for training is investing in your future. 

Take away

Looking for work can be stressful, particularly when the UK unemployment rate is high. Taking care of yourself in order to survive unemployment is a job in itself. As with any work, it’s important to take a break from job hunting, do something relaxing and have fun. 

What next?

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