What does 2021 hold for the job market?
What job seekers need to be doing NOW to capitalise on the economic upturn when the pandemic ends.
It all feels a little doom and gloom at the moment with Covid-19 still around and the consequential lockdowns and economic downturn. This in turn is leading to redundancies and less available job opportunities.
You could be forgiven for thinking that it’s never going to end, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.
- Morgan Stanley have gone on record with a prediction for strong global GDP growth of 6.4% for 2021, initially within emerging markets, followed by the US and Europe.
- The Bank of England have recently forecast growth of 7.25% in 2021.
- The Pitchbook Financial Database indicates that in the last 3 months, within the Pharmaceutical, Food and Beverages and Technology sectors, 2230 deals have been done globally with a value of $49 billion including 859 deals in the UK and Europe with a value of £9 billion.
- Many search firms have also indicated a strong pipeline of jobs at the senior end of the market.
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Of course, 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.
The smart companies are currently in planning mode, tweaking their modelling with every twist and turn of the pandemic. The ones that will survive will have cut their cloth accordingly and will 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 yourself 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 who are desperately looking for a job (or an alternative job) simply to pay the bills or to escape their existing employer will send alarm bells ringing for potential employers. It’s important to be confident about your career plan and to appear measured and certain about why you are interested in a position that you have applied for.
A recruitment contact of mine, who having placed a candidate that subsequently pulled out of the new job with just 3 days’ notice, recently said that 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 let down”.
That’s not to say that being immediately available has to be a negative, you just need to engender confidence in you career plan and motivations behind your decision making. If you’ve put some thought into your next role and how it fits into your career trajectory, you’ll be in a much 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 point in 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, and you can then proactively seek out these skills and experiences to ensure you are on track to achieve your career goals.
Having this level of clarity will present you as someone with a clear plan and regardless of whether you are immediately available, fed-up with your current role or otherwise, you’ll be in a much 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 ever own.
A good CV/resume is absolutely critical to success, so make sure you do plenty of research on current best practice, consider using a professional CV/resume writing service and spend plenty of time making your CV/resume the best it can possibly be.
LinkedIn is also crucial; as I write this, it has over 720 million members, so it’s no surprise that recruiters use it as one big pond to fish for 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 if they think you are worthy of shortlisting.
Your interview technique
If you’ve gone to the trouble of creating a career plan and a top-notch CV/resume and LinkedIn profile, you’ll not want to fall at the final hurdle. Being able to perform well in an interview is a fundamental life skill – remember, it’s not always the best candidate that get’s the job; it’s 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 don’t know themselves professionally unless they’ve taken the time to think about it!
I encourage all job seekers to create a Career Autobiography which is a chart of all the key events that have happened during their career. 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 don’t have (as per the skills gap analysis mentioned earlier), but also evidence that can be wheeled out during an interview to demonstrate you have the skills and experiences to perform the role you have applied for.
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 that will be best placed to capitalise.
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