If you have been a casualty of the mass unemployment that has been making its way throughout the globe, knowing that you are not alone is unlikely to be much consolation. When companies have to furlough or lay-off employees to keep afloat, it puts those who have suffered from being let go in a difficult position. When the job market contracts like it has done in response to the recent pandemic, those who have been affected have to adapt in order to survive.
If you have lost a job or if you have just graduated and are looking to start a career, here are some of the ways you can survive in the currently bleak job market.
Take Time to Plan.
When the job market is looking weak, it typically means that the world is experiencing a bit of downtime. In this type of climate, it’s easy to wake up every morning feeling anxious and discouraged; however, you should instead look at it in a positive light. You have the time to focus on what you want in life and form a plan. It is important to be completely honest with yourself and be aware of the symptoms of rumination, which indicates that your thinking isn’t getting you anywhere and is becoming more of an obstacle. When forming a plan, it is important to be disciplined (some people even form a plan about how they are going to form a plan); when deciding on your career path, make sure you ask yourself the following questions:
- What do you feel most passionate about?
- What are you exceptionally good at?
- What do you want to change about the world? Do you need to use your career to do this, or can you do it in your spare time?
- What does your ideal working day look like?
These questions allow you to get an idea of what you are capable of doing and what you’ll be happy doing, but make sure you make it as realistic as possible.
Consider the Two Types of Career Paths .
Broadly speaking, there are two different types of career. There are careers where you work for other people and there are careers where you work for yourself. Both have ups and downs.
When you work for other people you tend to have higher job security, low risk, regular income (important if you’re supporting a family), and a clear career progression. The downsides of working for other people differ from person to person; some people don’t like contributing to somebody else’s idea and instead want to nurture their own idea; some people would prefer to choose their own working hours and their own workplace values; some people prefer entering an environment where there are set rules and regulations and they have a straightforward idea of what they need to do each day.
Working for yourself, being an entrepreneur, gives you much higher risk and lower job security, but if you are successful it gives you higher rewards. You might get to have more flexible working hours, but you will likely be working a lot. However, if you have the motivation to push through, you’ll likely enjoy working as it will be for a cause that you truly believe in. Entrepreneurs are more common than ever nowadays and, with the job market the way it is, this is likely to be a trend that will continue in the upcoming decade.
Create a Strategy Based on Your Chosen Path.
Once you have a good idea about the path you’re going to choose, you should create a strategy that will help you progress along that path. Keep in mind that you don’t have to take the same path for the rest of your life; many people work as an employee until they feel ready to start their own company and many (especially young) people decide that they can try to get a job if their start-up fails.
If you are going down the entrepreneurial route, you need to do everything you can to minimize your risk. This means doing a lot of research; reading many different books related to the area that you want to enter, as well as general business and finance books. If you have an entrepreneurial spirit but have no foundational business knowledge, you might want to do an online MBA to give yourself the tools you need to succeed. Doing a qualification also gives you the added benefit of being more employable if you decide that you don’t want to follow the path of an entrepreneur after all.
If you decide upon a traditional career, you should prepare your job search material.
Create a Cover Letter.
When you’re applying for jobs, it can be tough to not get worn down if you aren’t getting many responses. It can feel like a long slog, but it is important to keep motivated in order to convey real passion in your cover letters. Crafting a great cover letter will be easier if you have already decided what you want from your career, as you will naturally be more passionate about the job, since it will be a step in the right direction for your future instead of just a source of income. Make sure every cover letter you write is custom to the company you’re applying to, as well as upbeat and positive, which will show resilience in the current job climate.
Know the Hidden Job Market.
Did you know that 80% of jobs don’t come from responses to job advertisements? Four-fifths of jobs instead come from networking. This means that statistically you are better off going on LinkedIn, taking time to create a profile that conveys your skills as well as your drive for what you want to achieve in life. Once you have a professional and motivated profile, start connecting with hiring managers or leaders in the industry that you want to penetrate. Keep in mind that during a global economic downturn, they will likely have a bit more time than usual.
Whether you are choosing entrepreneurship or a traditional job, LinkedIn can be highly valuable as you can use it to find mentorship. Connecting with people who have achieved what you want to achieve in 10 years’ time and developing a relationship with them is a fantastic way of putting yourself on the right track. Don’t be afraid to be very straightforward when you are connecting with them; tell them what you want to achieve, why you want to achieve your goals, and then explain how you think learning from them will put you at an advantage in doing so. Being approached for mentorship can be a huge compliment, so don’t feel intimidated by asking.
Join Professional Associations.
Becoming a member of a career association can be a great angle if you are having trouble getting a job, especially if you’re a recent graduate. Career associations are communities where you can network with others in your field, which is helpful for digging into that hidden job market or just getting some tips about where to look for a new job. Again, don’t be afraid to ask for help – if you join one of these organizations, start a conversation with some of the senior leaders, they will likely feel flattered, and being snubbed by one is very rare.
It is important to keep motivated in this difficult time. Although many economists are predicting a damaged economy, the debilitating feeling of uncertainty is much more likely if you don’t have clear idea of what you want to achieve in the next few years of your career. Information is power, a maxim that remains true even with decisions pertaining to your own wants and needs.