We are living in a time of extreme uncertainty and change. The coronavirus has had a severe impact on the UK’s economy – GDP fell by 19% between March and May and tens of thousands have already been made redundant. As of July, an estimated 9.5 million jobs have been furloughed. However, with the furlough scheme coming to an end, many of these jobs will also be at risk of redundancy.
Those seeking new employment will emerge to a changing job landscape. Aviation, retail, hospitality, and leisure have been some of the most badly affected industries. Many large businesses have seen numerous job cuts while a saddening number of small businesses have collapsed. However, many in the digital industry are thriving. The obvious winners are big tech companies like Amazon, Google and Apple. Looking ahead, many companies intend to accelerate their digital transformation, providing opportunities for those with in-demand skills. Coronavirus has also facilitated expansion in areas such as e-commerce and automation, meaning that there will be a greater need for those working in these areas.
So, what can you do to improve your chances of succeeding in a post-coronavirus world? Here are some ideas and resources to help…
Identify and develop in-demand skills
Given the emphasis on digital transformation, skills that enable companies to do this are going to be in high demand. A recent Forbes article highlighted data literacy, tech-savviness and digital and coding skills as key. If you’ve got some free time during our state of semi-lockdown, why not take some courses to develop these skills? Online platforms such as Coursera, Udemy and FutureLearn offer a variety of courses that are mostly either free or fairly affordable. The open university also offer over 1000 free courses.
While digital skills are vital, don’t neglect the soft skills. More than ever, companies will value skills such as adaptability to change, communication and emotional intelligence to support their operations in changing times.
Develop an online presence
Now is the time to refresh your LinkedIn profile, set-up work-focused social media accounts, build a website and engage with others in your industry. Just because in-person meetups are still limited, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a vibrant online community waiting for you. Surveys estimate that between 70–85% of all jobs are acquired via networking. You may also be able to gain valuable advice about enhancing your employability and find out more about work in related areas you hadn’t previously considered.
Embrace shorter contracts
Many tech companies already rely heavily on a temporary workforce. In fact, Google’s temps outnumber their permanent staff. This trend seems likely to continue within and beyond the tech industry, given that flexibility is going to be vital for companies to survive. Whether or not this appeals to you long term (don’t forget, freelance work comes with increased admin and reduced security), taking on temporary work may help grow your professional network and avoid a potential blank spot on your CV. It might also be a useful opportunity to pick up work in a slightly different area, allowing you to expand your skill set and future potential job options.
Follow tech trends
Read widely, curate your social media and organise notifications to follow the latest tech trends. Being knowledgeable about your industry is both valuable in itself and for how it can support future job-seeking. Firstly, this can help you identify which skills and jobs are likely to be in demand in the future. Secondly, you will become a more informed member of your industry’s community who can add value to online discussions, write thought pieces, and develop a reputation of excellence. The great thing is, there is no barrier to entry – you can get started right away.
Hopefully, this has provided some helpful ideas on how you can prepare for the post-coronavirus job market. While it’s a period of upheaval and change, there will be opportunities, especially for those in the digital industry. Make sure you’re ready for them.