How to thrive in an uncertain job market?
If you’re in a job function, organisation or industry that is undergoing rapid transformation or disruption, you’ll know that some roles are quickly becoming outdated and even redundant.
For some job functions, the writing is on the wall – whether it’s production-line manufacturing jobs that are being automated, print publishing sub-editors who are no longer in demand, or IT skills that are rapidly becoming outdated.
In other cases, your skills might still be in demand but your role is being made redundant for business reasons beyond your control in your organisation or industry sector. Either way, it can be daunting to think that you might soon be in the job market in the near future. Here’s some advice to prepare for your next career step and set you up for success.
- Upskill on technology
No matter what industry you’re in, employers are looking to hire people who can embrace change and upskill quickly, particularly with technology.
Think about the technology skills and platforms that are common in your job function. If you’re lacking in any of these, find a short course that you can do in your own time to upskill.
Not only will you learn potentially valuable skills, but you’ll be demonstrating an aptitude for learning, embracing change and taking responsibility – these are soft skills that could set you apart from other candidates when you apply for a new role.
- Find a career mentor or career coach
When large numbers of roles are made redundant, organisations often use outplacement services to assist employees. Yet a lot of employees don’t take up this opportunity.
If you get the chance, then do it! Be smart and take advantage of any opportunity for career advice, because people with an objective perspective can often see skills and opportunities that you can’t see in yourself.
If there is no formal career transition opportunity, create one for yourself. Find someone experienced who you know and trust and ask if they would be willing to be your mentor. Alternatively, find out if there are any formal mentoring programs you could apply for within your industry or profession.
You could even pay for a career coach, much the same way you might seek advice from a financial adviser or personal trainer in other aspects of your life.
You’ll feel more confident and empowered, as well as receive objective advice that will give you a better chance of finding a new role and exploring broader career possibilities.
- Tap into your network
Not all jobs are advertised. To be in the running for great job opportunities, you need to make sure that the opportunities come to you. That means having the right connections and networks. Look for opportunities to connect and stay in touch with people within your industry or job function. Take the time to meet people for coffee, or attend networking events.
If you don’t know anyone, find them by joining professional or industry associations, or seeing if there are any local Meetups.
It’s also crucial to engage with specialised recruiters who are looking for candidates that not only have the right technical skillsets and experience, but cultural fit, for their clients’ roles, and that means taking the time to get to know you.
- Update your digital profile
For great roles to find you, you also need to have a strong digital profile. Keep your LinkedIn profile up-to-date and make the best use of your digital profile by asking for recommendations from past employers, clients and colleagues. You should also include content that showcases your achievements, such as articles, videos, images, presentations and links to websites or media.
It’s also worthwhile providing comments and insights into issues relevant in your field, if you want to be seen as an influencer.
Having a well-maintained and content-rich digital profile will build your credibility and reputation: candidates who have a strong digital footprint can have an edge over their less visible and less active competitors when it comes to the digital interview before they even make the shortlist for a face-to-face discussion.
- Unbundle your skillsets
Use this as an opportunity to think more broadly about the kinds of roles you might be suitable for.
A job is often characterised by its title, rather than the embedded skillsets that ensure tasks are able to be done. Unpacking a job could help you realise how much you already do, what you’re capable of in another role, and how additional training could enhance your prospects.
Rather than saying "I’m a Marketing Manager” or “I’m a Project Manager”, think about your job in terms of "What IT applications and platforms do I use? How many people do I manage or interact with? What specialised soft skills are required for success in my role?”
For almost any job, you should be able to unbundle 10 to 15 capabilities or critical skills that are transferable to another role.
For example, there don’t appear to be many commonalities between an auto parts assembly line and a blackjack table at first glace. Yet, unbundling skills helped Hudson career coaches to think outside the box and transition around 60 workers into training for a possible career in casinos or clubs.
How so? Working on a line in an elaborately transformed manufacturing environment demands a fast pace, close to zero defects, consistent application of rules and procedures, strong numerical skills, tolerance for shift work and an ability to stand for extended periods in one location. Looked at in these terms, the similarities with dealer roles in a casino are evident.
- Explore the full breadth of potential career options
Careers are no longer a ladder where all you can do is go up or down. It’s more like a jungle gym where you can go up, down, across or around.
Maybe your next career step won’t be into another similar role at all. Should you consider a reduction in pay to give you a start in a new or slightly different field? What about contracting or freelancing? Is it time to finally start that business that you’ve always thought about but were too scared to leave your day job for? Or perhaps it’s time you took a few weeks to learn a program that will help you in the long run.
These can be soul-searching questions at a time when you’re worried about how you’ll pay the bills in the near future. Embrace a positive mindset, take control of your career and you may look back and see this as an extraordinary opportunity that set you on a new and fulfilling path.
Be mindful that this is just the beginning. No matter where you are in your career, you should always be actively managing your career so that you are always empowered to take on the next step in your career.