Finding a job in a tough economy

Trying to find a job can be tough at the best of times, but, with the UK economy still struggling to recover from recession, it can seem especially difficult to get a foot on the career ladder at the moment.

Indeed, although the latest government figures show that the number of jobless adults in the UK dropped by 49,000 in the quarter to September this year, the overall number of unemployed still stands at over two and a half million.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate for 16 to 24-year-olds remains high at almost 21 per cent, suggesting it is often those looking for their first job that are struggling in the current economy.

The good news is that for those looking for hospitality careers, the situation may not be as bad as it is for other jobseekers.

In fact, the hospitality industry's workforce increased in size by 14 per cent between 2004 and 2011, in contrast to most other sectors, while a large proportion of those in hospitality work are from the 16 to 24-year-old age group.

But nevertheless, in today's climate, job seekers in every sector may find they need to go the extra mile to secure themselves an employment opportunity.

This week, the London Evening Standard reported that some graduates have even resorted taking to the streets wearing sandwich boards advertising their services and handing out CVs.

And according to employment expert John Bell, policy editor of, while such tactics may not be a broad solution for tackling unemployment, it does demonstrate the need to stand out from the crowd in the current jobs market.

"In the current labour market, anything is worth trying," he said. "It has a degree of novelty to it, perhaps it is the sort of thing that might get mentioned in the local press, I've seen examples of that myself."

However, most people looking for a career in hospitality won't need to go to such desperate measures. The most important thing, says Mr Bell, is to persevere.

"It's a self-motivation thing really, you've just got to keep at it. If you haven't got a job at the moment, your job is to find a job, so when you get up in the morning, you just have to keep convincing yourself that you've got to keep trying."

You can use online job sites to help you keep up to date with the latest vacancies and subscribe to email alert services so that you don't miss any opportunities.

And when you do find something you want to apply to, it is vital given the current level of competition to take the time and effort to make your application as attractive to the recruiter as possible.

According to John Lees, career coach and author of 'How to Get a Job You'll Love', this should involve using your CV and cover letter to highlight to the employer the skills and experience you possess that make you suited to the position.

"The main thing really is to make sure that you offer some really good evidence of your skills and your employability," he says.

"A lot of young people when they apply for a job put too much emphasis on their study and training, which is fine, and it is important, but employers are really looking for ready evidence to see what you are good at."

If you've been struggling to find a job for a long time, you might need to consider casting your net a little wider and looking for vacancies that may not be your dream job but could allow you to get a foot in the door of your chosen industry.

One of the consequences of the economic downturn has been a rise in the number of temporary positions becoming available, and the hospitality sector in particular provides a great deal of temporary work opportunities.

And Tara Daynes, an HR consultant and trainer, believes taking on such positions could prove a successful path to permanent employment.

"With regards to getting permanent positions, the current economic climate means that employers are often reluctant at the moment to put forward a permanent vacancy because they just don't know what their needs will be in the future," she said.

"So a lot of the time they will actually have people on a short term basis with a view to potentially going permanent once they actually know what the future holds for them."

Berkeley Scott provides specialist advice and support to help you with hospitality careers