During the last 2 months, our lives have changed drastically since the advent of the Corona virus. Countries are locking down, effectively blocking off flights around the world. People are being asked to stay indoors as much as possible, limiting social life and the very fabric of how we interact with each other. Even worse, the global economy is facing unprecedented pressure and a downturn that results in many fearing for, or even losing, their jobs.
As a consequence, there is an influx of job seekers in an often already over-saturated market. Job applications received for jobs posted on conventional job boards attract several hundred candidates within mere days. While anxiety is roaring, there is hope: like a coin having two sides, even the current pandemic has opportunities for those willing to grasp them.
Here are my tips for job seekers in the current market:
Identify those sectors that are ‘recession proof’: There are essential goods and services that are always required – take food & beverages, public services, and essential healthcare & pharmaceuticals as example. While some industries retain their momentum, others might even increase their headcount to cover with new demand that arose through a drastic shift. Every downturn has an upward movement that has a balancing effect, and as a job seeker, you need to identify and pursue those opportunities that serve as adjustment to the current situation.
Stay nimble & agile: Be responsive to novelty. Even large conglomerates and multi-national companies realize that what has worked for decades might now enable them to survive. In the same way that some automotive manufacturers shifted their production to healthcare safety equipment (and there are a lot of similar example of cross-industry shifts), you need to identify those skillsets and competencies you have that are helpful and relevant in the new reality that we are facing. Moving forward to stay afloat is more essential than ever before.
Upskill & train yourself: Use any downtime you have to further specialize yourself. There are tangible shifts towards digital economies, with many experts predicting that companies will inherently amend the way they work even after the pandemic has been defeated. Organizations are forced to utilize remote working and associated tools, which will impact the way we work for the next decades. Are you familiar with remote work? Are your IT & computer skills meeting the novel requirements that employers have? Learning in today’s World can be done online, anywhere and anytime – and in many cases for free!
Differentiate yourself: This was applicable before but is now more important than ever: leave a lasting impression on employers through standing out. Revise your CV and social media profiles, but also consider whether those conventional tools are the most suitable for securing your next assignment. Communicate to employers how you are standing out from the crowd. Quantify your achievements, follow a new approach, and ensure that the employer knows the value that you bring to them.
Consider freelancing: Even before the pandemic, there was a tangible increase in the gig and freelance economy, which is not accelerating. Both companies and individuals realize the value that professional freelance relationships can bring to the table. We have the digital infrastructure and tools that are required to deliver top-notch results without the implications of traditional employment, and with so many freelancers openly stating that once they started to get traction, they aren’t considering moving back to the traditional 9 to 5, freelancing might just be the thing for you. Additionally, freelancing often enables you to secure yourself from fluctuations by giving you a certain degree of control and ownership of your career.
Mankind has many sayings that are established because they are true: “There is light at the end of the tunnel”. “Everything happens for a reason”. “Where there is shadow, there is light”. Treat the current situation like a challenge, rather than a result. The more effort you exercise, the better you will fare. Before you know it, things will turn around, and you will be in a better situation than the one you have been before the crisis.
Stay motivated, and stay safe!
Sohaib Hasan is an award winning "The Most Successful Youth Influencer" with 450,000+ followers on LinkedIn, an initiative-driven and internationally seasoned HR Consultant with close to a decade of success in infusing efficiency into the HR Operations and expert counselling to the professionals in midst of their careers. He is primarily branded for his outstanding creative solutions to enhance organizational efficiency and as well developing and unleashing human behavioral potential. Strongly knitted with HR professionals globally, his career tips and advice on LinkedIn are queued every day to be engaged in and learn from.