Career planning in times of uncertainty: Preparing for the future labour market
The last four months have been different to say the least. No one could have prepared for the pandemic and the monumental impact it would have on our lives, health and social interactions.
The labour market trends that were set out before the world stopped seem outdated already. Industries have been impacted, some more so than others, and you see story after story in the news about us entering a new recession and what that means for the economy. It would be completely normal to feel disconnected, unsure of your future and confused.
There has also been a movement towards more flexible working. Before the pandemic, some employers were starting to offer more flexible ways of working as that was what workers wanted in order to manage a good work/life balance. This pandemic has in some ways accelerated this; as employers have had to transition their workforce to more remote means of working, where possible. Obviously, this has been easier for some more than others. But it does make you think, what will future employers want from their workforce?
The economy will recover, but it will take time. Some industries will recover faster than others. As employers start to make steps towards recovery, they will value employees who have been able to handle the pressure and cope well in these turbulent times. They will value employees who have used this time as an opportunity to expand their skills, develop themselves and show resilience in times of uncertainty.
So how can you plan for your future? How can you know whether you are making the right choices now?
Think back over the past four months: Do you feel your skills and strengths have changed? Have you changed your attitudes to work or your goals? Has the pandemic changed your views?
The events of the past four months may have inspired you to take a new path, or they may have given you the opportunity to develop a new set of strengths and skills you never knew you had. Transferable skills are important to employers, and thinking about how you have continued to develop your digital literacy skills through this period is just one example.
Use this time to conduct a SWOT analysis to see how far you’ve come. This will help when updating your CV and social media profiles, as well as for preparing for job interviews if entering the labour market.
Strengths – what are your strengths now? How did you develop them?
Weaknesses – have you identified areas to improve? How will you improve them?
Opportunities – what options do you have moving forward?
Threats – what potential barriers can you identify?
Now that you’ve reassessed your skills and strengths, this is an opportunity to research your career goals and to find out what your interests are. Think about what you enjoy studying or doing and see how they can link in with possible careers. There are lots of resources you can use to help you identify what type of careers match up with your strengths and interests.
Read our past blog “Ways you can research your career options during a lockdown” to find out more.
Plan B, C or D
When speaking with Careers Advisors, something you may hear is: “Always have a Plan B!” Well, in these times it could be worth considering a Plan C or D as well. You may have decided on a career path, which now looks bleak, but that doesn’t mean your time has been wasted. Perhaps this pandemic has opened your eyes to new possibilities that you never dreamed of before.
Taking advantage of new opportunities, using this time to really consider what you want and what you want to achieve are the first steps toward your new future.
Read our past blog “Plan ‘C’ – why flexibility is key on your journey to employability".
Expand your network
Being at home gives you more opportunity to start expanding your network. Starting with people you know, connect to them through social media. This could include colleagues from jobs, voluntary work or work placements you have completed, as well as friends, family and course mates.
As you expand your network of contacts, you’ll start to discover opportunities, new connections and links through your contacts’ networks. You never know where the next opportunity, or person who can help you, will come from!
Update your CV and professional social media profiles such as LinkedIn
This is a great opportunity to update your experience and skills on both your CV and your social media profiles. Think about how you’ve coped and what you’ve done or achieved during this period. Use this time to make sure your profile is updated with any new work experience, or qualifications you’ve just completed. Think about how would you market a product; how would you sell that product?
Now ask yourself, are you selling yourself in the best way to potential employers?
There is a wealth of support around you. As you consider some of the things we have discussed in this blog, you may want to speak to someone who can help you answer some of the questions. Careers advisors are a great resource to use. They can support you to identify what skills and strengths you have. They can help you to map these to job profiles and to explore the full range of opportunities that are available. They can assist you in researching and understanding your labour market - as knowing what skills employers value, where the jobs are, and what opportunities there are to pursue your career goals, is key to achieving them.
The Careers & Welfare team is made up of qualified careers professionals who will offer impartial personal career guidance. We support our students through every step of their journey, from pre-application and identifying the right course, through their programme with us and beyond. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for advice, or through our Twitter @CareersTMC or our Linked In page Careers TMC.
Careers are rarely a linear path; they are often winding and full of cross-junctions. You’ll often find that people progress in their careers by taking advantage of the opportunities presented to them, being open to trying new things and having the flexibility to adapt to change. This is your career and your future. Only you determine the path you take and the career you have. So, take ownership of that and have the career you want. And remember, we are here to support you!