What challenges might Firefighter Applicants see post-pandemic? The ‘new normal’ when restrictions are lifted is going to be different from anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes. It’s also more likely that it will be the ‘normal for now’, and will gradually evolve as we put the pandemic behind us.
Firefighter recruitment has fared well in the pandemic compared to a lot of other industries, with FRSs coming up with a variety of solutions to keep things moving for applicants. There have been delays to recruitment campaigns, and cases of successful applicants being placed in ‘holding pools’ until positions are available. But for the most part things have remained in motion.
But what changes will be permanent in the process for Firefighter Applicants? We outline three trends we’ve seen over the past twelve months.
In many cases parts of the assessment process have been moved online, to help adherence with social distancing restrictions. While face to face interviews have been ongoing in line with guidelines, some of the assessment centre tasks have been moved online.
However, there are a number of people that are not that comfortable while talking on calls or speaking on videos. The social anxiety of being on a video or phone call is a very real issue, and many people who are perfectly happy interacting on a face to face basis are affected by this fear.
However, virtual events are likely to be part of the application process going forwards, and this is something that applicants will have to come to terms with.
In 2020 we saw some FRSs asking for CVs to be uploaded as part of the initial application process. This caught a few applicants off-guard.
When you upload a CV to a job site as part of an application it’s common for your CV to be scanned by specialist software to see how good a ‘fit’ you are for the role requirements. Basically, this software uses artificial intelligence to scan the text of your CV and pick up on words and phrases that are a match to the role requirements.
The reason for this is the sheer volume of applications that FRSs receive. It’s something that’s been used for a long time in other industries, and allows the recruitment team to filter their applications much more quickly.
This is why you have to write your CV in a certain way to ensure it will make it past this stage of the process, and edit the information selectively so that it highlights skills and experiences that are a match to those of the role.
Diversity and inclusion has shot up the priority list as a result of the social activism and events of 2020. In fairness, the UK fire service has long been making an effort to attract and recruit a more diverse workforce, but efforts have been prioritised further.
So what does this mean for applicants? Most crucially, that they need to be aware of the importance of diversity. Working as a firefighter in today’s multicultural and varied society you will be interacting with individuals from all walks of life in your day-to-day employment – both colleagues and members of the public.
Questions on diversity are coming up more regularly in all areas of the process – from the application form to presentations and the final interview. This is something that you really need to consider when thinking about which relevant experiences to include in your answer.