The impact of Covid-19 on the workforce taught us many lessons about how important it is to future-proof your career against ‘career bumps’ such as an unexpected job loss, redundancy, demotion or a missed promotion. PricewaterhouseCoopers modelling showed that the City of Melbourne alone shed 75K jobs in 2020 with employees considered “safe and secure” in industries such as tourism, retail and hospitality suddenly unemployed with no advertised roles to even apply for.
These job losses came as a huge shock to many but unfortunately in the career transition/outplacement industry we see this occurring on a regular basis. Companies are often restructuring, merging or closing down and jobs are being replaced or automated on an ongoing basis.
No-one expects a sudden job loss; but employees deemed “career fit” are better prepared than others and recover much faster. If you are considered “career fit”, then you are someone who invests in your career over time, you keep yourself marketable, nurture an established network and are ready to go out to the job market and articulate your value if the need arises.
Here are my four top tips to ensure that you remain “career fit”:
Audit your career every year
Regardless of whether your company has an annual performance development appraisal, employees should be conducting their own ‘career audit’ every year. This means taking the time to reflect on their year-to-date, their achievements, their areas for growth and how they can describe the value that they have added to their team, organisation or clients over the past year. How content are you in your current career, and what do you wish to achieve in the following 12 months? What skills would you like to develop to stay current in your industry? What networks could you build both internal and external to the organisation? This reflection will not only ensure that as an employee you become more valuable but will also ensure that you are always ready to market your value to potential employers or recruiters if the needs arises.
Assess your skills
If you are fortunate enough to work for a progressive and innovative organisation that has a focus on learning and development, then you may have up-to-date skills that are highly marketable. However, if your company doesn’t focus on learning and development, or if you work for yourself, it may be time to take more responsibility for your own skill development.
There are many free or inexpensive short courses available on leading online learning platforms such as Udemy and Coursera where employees can learn a plethora of soft or technical skills. Likewise, organisations and institutions such as Australian Institute of Management, RMIT Online, Monash and General Assembly also offer a great selection of short courses to build soft and technical skills such as; negotiation, sales, UX, conflict management, coding, marketing, social media and finance for non-financial managers, to name just a few.
Nurture your Network
When you experience a sudden job loss, it is relationships that will help you get the next job – they are the safety net that catch you when you fall. We don’t often spend intentional time building relationships as the return on investment doesn’t feel immediate or measurable enough, but without them you can become a career hermit very quickly.
To future-proof your career it is vital that you continue to build and maintain professional relationships over the life of your career. Networking does not happen overnight, and it shouldn’t be something that you only think about when you suddenly lose your job. The clients who recover quickly from a sudden job loss, are more often than not, those that have an expansive network that has been nurtured over long periods of time, .
If you are not already on LinkedIn, then make it a priority. Recruiters and hiring managers expect you to be on LinkedIn as networking and business development is important across all roles and industries. It opens up a world of networking possibilities, even for the greatest of introverts, and it is also a fantastic platform to develop your business acumen. If you are working in anything sales related, then it is an absolute must-have!
Job search ready
One of the most difficult and time-consuming activities for many employees following a job loss is updating their resume and LinkedIn profile.
In the past, resumes were a laundry list of every job that we had ever performed, and most employees just added their latest role to the top of the list. Resumes have changed considerably over the past decade and are now more like a marketing document that “sells” an employee’s skills, strengths and achievements in a succinct and compelling way. If writing is not one of your core strengths, then this process can take time.
In addition, many organisations are using Applicant Tracking Systems (ATSs) to screen resumes against keywords before they are even viewed by a human. This is particularly common in roles that attract a high volume of applicants or in organisations that are hugely popular and get huge numbers of applications. Therefore, it is also recommended that your resume is “keyword optimised” to “beat the bot”.
Likewise, having a professional and keyword optimised LinkedIn profile will ensure that you don’t get left high and dry after a sudden job loss. A well-written and optimised profile should attract the attention of potential recruiters, hiring managers and people in your network which will enhance your ability to find a new job quickly.
Keeping ‘career fit’ requires dedicated time, planning and possibly some financial investment but it is vital if you wish to future-proof your career for the future.
If you would benefit from working with a career coach or one of our ver talented writers to make sure that you are ready to hit the job market should an unexpected event occur, then contact us here to organise a clarity call or to book a coaching or writing session.