Since late March, almost 800,000 Australians have lost their jobs. Others are working shorter working hours, and wherever possible, people are working from home. Other workers have been deployed by their employer into roles they have never done before. About 1.6M Australians are currently on JobSeeker payments or youth allowance and 6M are on JobKeeper. If you have been laid off work and need to get a job in Australia during Coronavirus, read on to learn about how employment and career prospects have been impacted by the pandemic.

The pandemic has caused a number of non-essential services to shut down which then caused unemployment rate to spike from 5.1% to double digits by the middle of 2020, with some analysts even predicting that it could reach as high as 20%.

More than 50% of all workers in the hospitality, retail, education and arts industries have been impacted from unemployment.

Workers with lower incomes are predicted to be twice as likely to be unemployed as high-income employees. Younger Australians and women are also more affected because most work in sectors that have been impacted by the business closures and physical distancing measures implemented to slow down the spread of the virus.

In a report posted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on 19 May 2020, Bjorn Jarvis, Head of Labour Statistics at the ABS, said, “The latest data shows a further slowing in the fall in COVID-19 job losses between mid-April and early May. The week-to-week changes are much smaller than they were early in the COVID-19 period. The decrease in the number of jobs in the week ending 2 May was 1.1 per cent, which was only slightly larger than the 0.9 per cent increase in the week ending 25 April.”

“The largest net job losses over the seven weeks of the COVID-19 period, in percentage terms, were in Victoria and New South Wales, where the falls in payroll jobs were around 8.4 per cent and 7.7 per cent.”

“Payroll jobs worked by people under 20 continued to show the largest falls (-14.6 per cent), and were particularly high in some states and territories, such as the Australian Capital Territory (-19.2 per cent).”

“The Accommodation and food services industry had lost around a third of payroll jobs (33.3 per cent) by the week ending 11 April, and a subsequent increase in jobs saw this reduce to around 27.1 per cent by the week ending 2 May,” Mr Jarvis said.

The image below shows job losses data for each industry at a regional level.

Jobs in Australia during CoronavirusFigure 1: Groups impacted by changes in payroll jobs


According to Deloitte Access Economics, the arts and hospitality sectors are the most affected by the coronavirus pandemic and it is predicted that it will take more than five years before it can recover to how it was before the crisis.

Deloitte estimates that some white-collar sectors that have suffered job losses of less than 10%, and these will rebound to their previous employment state before the end of 2021.

However, it predicts that between 50% and 60% of jobs will be lost in the accommodation, food, arts and recreation industries, and these sectors will not recover before the end of 2025.

In Deloitte’s preliminary statistics, it also estimates 10% of jobs in the retail sector will be lost and it will take until August 2025 to recover.

Although the finance industry is supported by the Reserve Bank, Deloitte forecasts that more than 10% of its employees will still lose their jobs and will not recover to employ until late 2025.

David Rumbens, Deloitte Access Economics partner, said this about arts and hospitality businesses, “There’s the broader loss to the economy and consumer spending, which often drives these services, and that’s going to be constrained for a while.”

“Unemployment’s going to be quite high, or higher than it was, for a period of time,” he said further.

The preliminary retail sales figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that spending on clothing, footwear, accessories, eating out and takeaway food plunged to half its normal levels in April. Sales in food retail also fell 17%.

On the other hand, online retail sales will gradually increase with about 10% of purchases made through online stores.

According to analysts at the investment bank UBS, the proportion of purchases made online, food not included, would rise from 11% to 17% by 2024. This could result to 1 of 5 physical retail shops closing by 2024.

Rumbens said that there will be some changes to consumer behaviour. For example, about two-thirds of consumers surveyed by Deloitte made an online purchase in the previous week. “That kind of shift is under way,” he further said.

In addition, Callam Pickering, Indeed’s APAC Economist, said in an interview from Lifehacker Australia, “Healthcare roles are, in general, outperforming the national average. Although to be clear, job postings for every sector are now below their trend at this point last year.”

“There has also been strong demand for workers across Australia’s supermarkets, with both Coles and Woolworth announcing widespread hiring to meet growing demand.” Pickering said.

He also mentioned that drivers, primarily delivery drivers and personal care jobs are also remaining relatively steady compared to other roles.

“The labour market will remain weak until the lockdowns are either partially or fully lifted. Most businesses cannot operate right now, or at least not to the same degree they could during normal times, and so hiring or expanding will not be on the agenda.”

“Strong fiscal support from federal and state governments will help the economy recover when normality resumes but the economy won’t return to where it was before COVID-19 for a number of years.” Pickering told Lifehacker Australia.

Job seekers and businesses should be able to adapt to the new normal in order to survive until the situation transitions back to the old normal again.


In a research conducted by ING Future Focus with futurist Anders Sörman-Nilsson, about 3.3M Australians are planning to switch careers as a result of the coronavirus pandemic – 1.38M of which are Millennials and 1.31M are Generation X.

“Covid-19 has made many Aussies rethink their work choice with some questioning whether their existing skills will always be needed while others have spent time dreaming about a change in career direction,” according to Melanie Evans, head of retail banking.

In fact, 28% of Australians are learning new skills to either advance in their current jobs or just to do something new.

Many employers are actually open to the idea of having re-skilling programs for their workers. For example, Amazon announced a $700 million program to re-skill 100,000 of its US-based employees in areas like healthcare, machine learning, manufacturing, robotics, and computer science.

In the report, the following are the now in-demand skills brought by the pandemic in the Australian job market:

  • Innovation and creativity
  • Digital/data literacy
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Constant curiosity and adaptability
  • Pattern recognition/critical thinking
  • Virtual leadership
  • Storytelling

“Whilst STEM-based (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education and coding have been touted as the skills of the future on a national level, the long-term trend suggests that we are better off reviving the at-times forgotten secrets of the right brain,” the researchers said.

This simply means that as automation takes over most of the roles, humans will be needed for their essential creativity, innovation, empathy and emotional intelligence.

The report further stated, “Quarantine constraints seem to have unleashed our creativity and boosted a more human relationship with technology, which has become the key communication infrastructure in an age where we have been physically constrained.”

“It will be important for people to have multiple skill sets that combine creativity and entrepreneurship with digital technologies.”

This means that it will be those workers and jobseekers who will adapt quickly and are able to learn beyond their current role or field of study, will be the ones who will be increasingly in-demand.


Certain sectors have been hit hard by the pandemic and are forced to either lay off some of its employees or to totally close down, while other industries experienced high demand of work due to the shifting behaviour and needs of the consumers.

Australians who have lost their jobs are not given many options nowadays and changing jobs could be the only way for them to continue earning a living.

It can be quite intimidating and challenging switching to a job in a different field, especially if you have zero experience in any of the roles. But this doesn’t mean it’s unachievable.

Know which industry you should you move into

According to Jenny Blake, Pivot author and career strategist, it is vital to examine your strengths.

“I always encourage people to look at what is working for them — even if it’s a small fraction of what they are doing. What do you get complimented on? What are you the go-to person for? From there, people tend to uncover their natural gifts and talents,” she said.

Align your strengths with the role you want to apply for

1. Do an inventory of your qualifications, accomplishments, skills and knowledge
Make a detailed list of all of your past work experiences, accolades and achievements.

2. Know and understand what successful people in your desired role actually do
According to the article written by Jon Carpenter, knowing what the people in the position actually do will give you a better sense of what the role entails and if you think you could actually do it.

3. Identify your transferable skills
List down 3 or 5 specific skills needed to be successful in the role that you are applying for. Then identify the specific achievements in your previous work experience that will clearly showcase your ability to take on the responsibilities of your prospect job.

In addition, Jenny Blake emphasises that it’s important to work on filling your skills or knowledge gap, which is what is important for the role you want and something you’re not qualified to do.


This one never gets old, even during the pandemic: “The best way to find a job is through networking,” said Ivan Misner, founder of Business Network International, a global networking organisation.

“Work towards getting an introduction at the company you are interested in, or at least some material that may give you an edge,” he added.

Social Media Presence

How you present yourself on social media has become increasingly important, since almost all interactions nowadays are online – meetings, reporting, interview, etc.

“Prospective employers will be using digital platforms to learn even more about you upfront than before. Make sure your presence is pristine and memorable in a good way,” said Jill Tipograph, co-founder of career coach firm Early Stage Careers in New York.

About 70% of employers use social networking sites to research candidates and 43% of them said that a candidate’s social media content greatly contributed to their decision whether to hire the applicant or not.

Michelle Armer, chief people officer at CareerBuilder added, “If used wisely, social media can help you stand out and show skills or interests that don’t fit on a resume.”

Video Interview and Virtual Career Fair

Even way before the pandemic, hiring managers have already started doing online job interviews, and this will be the common practice today in compliance with the strict distancing guidelines being implemented.

Here are a few tips from the experts on how to prepare for video interviews.

Advice from Jill Tipograph, co-founder of career coach firm Early Stage Careers in New York:

“For virtual recruitment fairs, practice being present and engaging in order to stand out in a gallery of zoom windows.”
“These are all lessons that people have to learn now.”

Advice from Blair Heitmann, a career expert at LinkedIn:

“To present your best self over video, test out your lighting, sound and background beforehand.”
“Try to have the camera at eye level and find an aesthetically pleasing background — no bed behind you. Then, dress as you would for an in-person meeting, right down to the shoes.”
“After any interaction, follow up with an email within a day or two.”
“You want to make sure it gets there as soon as possible It’s your last opportunity to seal the deal.”

We now live in extraordinary times. And in order for us to survive we must be willing to do and think extraordinary things.

As the Latin proverb say, Destitutus ventis, remos adhibe – If the wind will not serve, take to the oars.

Click here to see who is employing right now in Australia.

(updated 2021)

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