There will be great damage wrought on the job market in the wake of COVID-19. We have already witnessed 26 million jobs lost with an anticipated millions more to come. Many industries will suffer badly for years to come.
You’d be doing yourself a disservice to presume that your job is safe and sound. If you’ve lost your job or are concerned about the safety and long-term viability of your career, you need to plan ahead of time and not wait for the ax to fall.
Here are six outside-of-the-box things you can do to stay in the game and keep the momentum of your career going.
1. Make Yourself Indispensable
It’s reasonable to presume that once companies restart there will be hiring freezes and downsizings, as management won’t have any clarity as to the future of its business prospects. You want to be the one who’s asked to stay on. Start right now by making yourself indispensable. Stay in close touch with your boss and other leaders at your company to determine what they need to succeed and how you can make their lives easier. Do everything in your power to effectively get things done and become the go-to person when there’s a problem. Let the powers that be know you’re the person who takes decisive actions and makes things happen. It’s an aggressive approach, but tough times call for bold actions.
If you’ve lost your job, you don’t want to wait on the sidelines for too long. At first, employers will understand that you were impacted by the pandemic. After months pass, hiring managers will question why you weren’t picked up when others were already rehired. They’ll begin to doubt your abilities. Since there will be so many other people in the job market, they can easily move onto other candidates if they see that you haven’t been doing anything for the last bunch of months.
2. Take On Contracting Roles To Stay Relevant
These are usually short-or-medium-term temporary roles. Companies will most likely hire more contractors rather than full-time permanent employees. There’s less risk and obligations to hire someone on a short-term basis. It buys time as management tries to figure out how things will change and what its ultimate needs will be.
By working on a contract with a company, you will make new contacts, build your network and have the possibility of being converted to a permanent employee. It also shows prospective employers that you’re industrious, picked up new skills and stayed relevant.
3. Pivot Or Reinvent Yourself
If you’re in a career that was irrevocably damaged, you need to reinvent yourself or pivot to a new line of work. Sometimes a hot area becomes cold overnight. The opportunities dry up and you have to move onto something different. Use this time to start preparing a “Plan B” for the possibility of things going south. This may entail going back to school to learn skills for a new type of career, obtain accreditations and certifications or accepting a job at the bottom and starting all over again in a new field.
Pivoting is a little different. Find a way that your skills, experience and knowledge can crossover into another field. You may have to take a couple of steps backward financially, but you can start rebuilding and quickly grow your career again.
For example, after the financial crisis, Wall Street traders lost their well-paying jobs. Then, technology was implemented that further crushed the careers of traders. These high-flying guys (yes, they were mostly men) hated the compliance department—the internal police-type people who oversaw their actions and wrote them up when they violated the rules.
The unemployed traders with little or no options became enamored with compliance. They’d say “Hey, I know all the ins-and-outs of trading and all the games that are played. I’ve seen all the tricks of the trades and understand the mindset. I’d be a great compliance officer!” They were right. Investment banks hired a large number of former traders in compliance and supervisory roles, figuring they could effectively deal with their former peers and have an insider’s knowledge of what they’re up to.
4. You May Have To Relocate
You’ll need to be open-minded and make adjustments to your life. There will be cities and states that fare better than others and offer more opportunities. If you are only fishing in one small pond, you’re missing the entire ocean of fish. It’s not easy to pack your belongings and family to leave town for another city, but it’s something that you have to seriously consider if where you currently live doesn’t provide you sufficient opportunities to find a new job or grow your career.
5. Remote Jobs Will Become More Prevalent
One of the more positive consequences of the coronavirus is that companies have recognized that people can effectively work from home. The chief financial officers realize that the company can save a fortune on pricey, big-city rent. The human resources professionals understand the benefits of having happy workers who are required to schlep into work on crowded buses and trains that take over an hour each way.
Start searching for job listings that offer that work-from-home arrangement. Even if a job listing doesn’t say that the company is open to work-from-home options, ask anyway. You have nothing to lose.
6. Start A Business
If you have a bit of an entrepreneurial streak in you and you’ve lost your job, you can create your own job. Start a small business with a corporate LLC designation and hang out a shingle saying that you’re open for business. You can offer the advice, guidance and counsel you gave to your former employer to an array of businesses that need help, but don’t have the financial wherewithal to hire.
Either you can make a go of it and make some money or it’s something smart to have on your résumé. When you go into an interview, if the business doesn’t work out, you can say, “After working X amount of years in Y field, I built up an expertise in the space. I’ve always dreamed of starting a business and thought this was the right time to take a chance and do it. After running my company for a while, I’ve learned a lot and helped many businesses. However, I now realize that I prefer working at a large organization. This was a great learning experience and I grew from it and would like to return to what I really love doing, which is this job that I’m interviewing for.”
The keys to navigating the new post-COVID-19 world entail working hard to show your value so that you keep you job, preparing to reinvent yourself, pivoting to another career, taking on short-term assignments to stay relevant, having an open mind to moving where the jobs are and trying to ask companies if they’d allow you to work remotely. Lastly, you can always create your own job by starting a business offering your experience, skills and knowledge.