We feel a little doom and gloom at the moment with COVID-19, the lockdowns and economic downturn still around. This is leading to redundancies and fewer job opportunities.
You could be forgiven for thinking that it is never going to end. But there is hope ahead.
- Morgan Stanley predicts strong global GDP growth of 6.4% for 2021, initially within emerging markets, followed by the U.S. and Europe.
- The Bank of England recently forecast growth of 7.25% in 2021.
- The Pitchbook Financial Database indicates that, in the last three months, within the Pharmaceutical, Food and Beverages and Technology sectors, 2,230 deals were made globally with a value of $49 billion including 859 deals in the U.K. and Europe with a value of £9 billion.
- Many search firms have also indicated a strong pipeline of senior jobs.
A lot depends on how long COVID-19 hangs around. But we can safely say that the pandemic will end and, when it does, there will be a surge in economic output.
Smart companies are in planning mode, tweaking their modelling with every twist and turn of the pandemic. Survivors will have cut their cloth accordingly and be ready to exploit the burgeoning economy when the time is right.
I would encourage you to look at your career in the same way and use this time wisely. Do your planning, get job-market ready and be poised to attack the job market when the economy turns.
So, what does getting ‘job-market ready’ entail?
Your career plan
As Alan Lakein said, ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’ and it’s no different when you are job seeking. Job seekers desperately looking for a job (or an alternative job) simply to pay the bills or to escape their existing employer will alarm potential employers. It is important to be confident about your career plan and to appear measured and certain about why you are interested in that position.
A recruitment contact of mine placed a candidate that subsequently pulled out of the new job with three days. He recently said that ‘immediately available candidates are fraught with dangers for employers as they are usually attracted to the shiniest job on the market and prone to being coaxed into another shinier role, leaving recruiters red-faced and employers to let down’.
That is not to say that being immediately available is negative. You just need to engender confidence in your career plan and the motivations behind your decision-making. If you have put some thought into your next role and how it fits into your career trajectory, you will be in a better position to justify yourself in an interview.
Nevertheless, most successful professionals have a career plan with milestones they want to reach by a certain time.
Performing a skills gap analysis between the skills needed for your next role and your existing experience is an easy but highly effective way of keeping on top of your career plan. It facilitates an awareness of the skills and experiences needed to get to the next level. You can then proactively seek out these skills and experiences to ensure you are on track to achieve your career goals.
Having this clarity presents you as someone with a clear plan and regardless of whether you are immediately available, fed-up with your current role or otherwise. You will be in a stronger position to sell yourself to a potential employer.
Your job seeker collateral
Next on your list of tasks is to create your job seeker collateral. What I mean by this is writing your CV/resume, LinkedIn profile and potentially a cover letter.
Many job seekers underestimate the importance of their CV/resume and apply a somewhat blasé approach to creating what in reality is the most important document they will own.
A good CV/resume is critical to success. Make sure you do plenty of research on current best practices, consider using a professional CV/resume writing service and spend plenty of time making your CV/resume the best it can be.
LinkedIn is also crucial. As I write this, it has over 720 million members, so it is no surprise that recruiters use as a big source of candidates. For that reason, having a great LinkedIn profile is just as important as having a great CV/resume. Even if the recruiter or hiring manager has viewed your CV/resume first, statistically somewhere near 85% of them will then check you out on LinkedIn page if they think you are worthy of shortlisting.
Your interview technique
If you have gone to the trouble of creating a career plan and a top-notch CV/resume and LinkedIn profile, you will not want to fall at the final hurdle. Being able to perform well in an interview is a fundamental life skill. Remember, that it is not always the best candidate that gets the job; it is often the person who can sell themselves the most effectively.
One of the biggest mistakes job seekers make is to assume they know themselves, only to come unstuck in the interview room where they fail to recall key experiences and achievements from their career. Most people do not know themselves professionally unless they have taken the time to think about it!
I encourage all job seekers to create a career autobiography, which is a chart of all their key career events. Think about all the successes, failures, projects, achievements and tricky situations you have experienced, all written as mini case studies and aggregated into a central repository (which may be a spreadsheet or simply a Word document).
These case studies can then be attributed to certain skills, giving not only clarity on the skills you do and do not have (as per the skills gap analysis mentioned earlier), but also evidence you can use during an interview to demonstrate you have the skills and experiences to perform the role you seek.
Of course, this career autobiography is used when preparing for interviews, but is also extremely useful when targeting a promotion or pay rise or during an annual appraisal.
So, there you have it! The economy and job market will eventually rebound, and quite possibly sooner than many think. It will be the job seekers with the best plan, the best collateral and the best interview technique who will be best placed to capitalise.
Look out for our upcoming webcasts. If you are interested in working with a professional CV/resume writer or career coach to give yourself the edge, the Association has negotiated some discounted services for CIMA® and AICPA™ members that you can explore here.
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