Remember way back (like two months ago…) when we were convinced automation and robots were coming for our jobs? Well, it seems COVID-19 beat them to it. With jobless claims soaring to 30 million last week, it is difficult not to panic. I get it - that is a scary number and many of us know someone or many someones that have lost their jobs. It's important to acknowledge the reality of our current job market situation. It's also important to figure out what we're going to do about it.
No, we can't solve all the world's coronavirus problems. Still, we can take a step back, evaluate our individual situation, and identify the steps we can take to ensure we best position ourselves in this whole new employment world.
This series is an examination of three key career management areas every professional must master, now more than ever:
Knowing and communicating your professional value
Understanding the specifics of your defined job market
Anticipating, uncovering, and leveraging new opportunities
In the first installment, we learned the power of an expertly crafted professional brand and to effectively communicate your professional value on a resume. In the second installment, we learned how to collect data on our specific job market and develop a strategic job search to pursue viable roles. In part three, we're focusing on anticipating, uncovering, and leveraging new opportunities.
AKA: Relentlessly pursue the new opportunities this crisis is creating. Right now.
As a result of this global pandemic, particular industries and organizations will weather the storm and even excel in this new environment as they find ways to adjust to meet changing demand. Other emerging sectors and organizations well-suited for our post-pandemic world will accelerate their entrance into the market, and even entirely new industries will be created. All of that is good news. Let me repeat that: that is good news. The pace of change has accelerated, and the market will look different, but we'll still have a job market. So, what's a professional to do with all of this change and uncertainty, you ask?
Yes, I'm going to say it: we gotta pivot. We've got to think about our skills and experience in terms of this new normal.
Start by answering these questions:
What industries and companies are least impacted?
What new industries and jobs will arise out of this?
How do we position ourselves for those new opportunities?
By now we've all heard about the "winners and losers" coming out of this pandemic. The obvious industry losers include:
Hospitality and travel
Brick and mortar retail
But what about the winning industries? Everyone and I mean everyone (currently unemployed or not) should be looking for potential opportunities in presently thriving sectors, as well as those positioned to do well in the future. Think:
Education - online education
Entertainment - video games, live streaming
Food - supermarket chains, delivery,
Healthcare - providers, insurance, and pharmacy chains
Information technology - remote working and communications, tech support, AI
Life Sciences and scientific research
Retail - e-commerce, outdoor activity supplies
Transportation - delivery, and logistics
A lot of people will look at this list and think some version of: "I'm not a software, programmer, scientist, nurse, logistics specialist, etc. - so this list does nothing for me." I'll let you in on a little secret…these industries contain many of the same functional roles as the very industry you may have been working in all of your career life. They have operations, accounting, human resources, sales, marketing, project management, customer service, etc.
The functional expertise developed in your career is valuable and relevant, even in a jobs crisis. No one can take that away from you.
It is up to you to position and communicate that expertise in response to this rapidly changing world of work. To relentlessly pursue the opportunity means first and foremost identifying your transferable skills. Transferable skills are the skills you can flex into another type of role or industry.
You must be able to answer the following:
What are your specific transferable skills?
What are the specific types of roles and industries most closely aligned to your current industry?
What specific organizations and roles would benefit from your skills and experience?
It is hard work to create strategies to buffer yourself from a lack of job security. But it is necessary if you want to assume control over what feels like an impossible and frightening situation like now.
Now is the time to invest in yourself, focus on your professional value, and leverage your expertise to create opportunities.
If the above feels challenging and time-consuming, don't panic. You're not alone. One of the silver linings in all of this is the amount of support being offered by so many. So, whether you're able to do this work on your own or find others to help you, the most crucial part is that you do the work.
And start now!