As I’m sure we’re all aware, the job market is changing, and changing rapidly. Businesses and the economy are entering their first recession in a long time, compounded by the restrictions imposed due to the pandemic.
It’s hard to know exactly how the job market will turn in the future, so preparing yourself in advance is the safest, albeit most pessimistic, approach to financial security.
Here’s a few steps you can take to improve your chances of survival in an unpredictable jobs market.
Step 1. Develop a “can-do” mindset
Your mindset will have the biggest impact on how effectively you navigate your way through these uncertain times, and not allowing the negative news headlines to defeat you is key.
When times are tough it can be incredibly easy to fall into a “victim” mindset and think that it’s too hard to find a new job or that there aren’t any jobs available.
You simply cannot allow yourself to fall into that negative pattern of thinking. Instead, learn to notice when that stressful and negative chatter pops up and refocus those thoughts into a solution-oriented state of mind. Your motto now is: “Times are tough, but I won’t know, unless I try”.
Step 2. Boost your emergency savings – quickly!
Because times are so unpredictable right now, it can be hard to know how long it would take you to find work in the event that you do lose your job.
While it’s comforting to know that there is government support available, these payments can take weeks to process and often won’t be enough to meet your needs in full. So focus your energy on boosting your cash reserves as quickly as you can.
You can do this by taking on extra shifts or freelance work if possible, selling items you no longer need (including that second family car!), shopping for a better deal on your bills, and revisiting your bank statements to look for any opportunities to cut back – remember, every little bit helps!
Step 3. Prepare a plan B…and C, D, and E
Rather than tossing and turning at night worrying if you or your partner will lose your jobs or how long it will take to find new employment, put that energy into productive use and start preparing your Plan B.
In other words – what course of action will you take if it takes you longer than expected to find work and you have exhausted your savings? Your plan B can include moving in with family, deferring your mortgage and other bills, or getting a job in another sector. And because times are so unpredictable right now, I would go so far as to say that once your Plan B is sorted, it wouldn’t hurt to also put together Plans C, D, and E, just in case!.
Essentially, you need to be aware that you may lose your job in the future and prepare alternative career paths, job options and financial reserves well in advance.
Step 4. Update your CV
Again, don’t wait until you are ready to job hunt. Now is the time to be taking proactive steps.
Think about all the areas you’ve been trained in, all the jobs you’ve had before, all the skills you have, and all the random tasks you’ve done that don’t necessarily fall under the umbrella of previous position titles.
By doing this, you’ll have a better understanding of how you can frame your background and experience to new industries if the time comes where you have to search for a new job.
Step 5. Diversify your skillset
The wider the skillset that you can apply to new jobs and new industries, the better.
If you’re very specialised in a certain line of work, consider how those skills could be applied to another industry, or even upskilling and retraining. For example, if you’re a massage therapist, consider bulking up on some IT coursework so you could do social media management or website design for a health company.
A great way to figure out which skills to develop is to ask yourself these three questions:
What other skills do I have that I can leverage?
What am I naturally good at?
What areas can I go and retrain in?
One silver lining of COVID is that the government has offered free or discounted courses, which are the perfect opportunity for you to diversify your skillset, so make the most of them!
Step 6. Network!
The simplest and most overlooked strategy for securing your income is to network.
Networking has never been easier thanks to social media and virtual groups, so there’s no excuse to not network!
Reach out to old references and current colleagues to warm those relationships up a bit. That way, if you do need to ask them for a referral or a letter of recommendation, you and your professional relationship with them are top of mind.
If you are job hunting, then networking is even more important because a lot of jobs get filled without even being posted or advertised.
Reach out to your network, your community, and your colleagues so they can point you in the right direction and help you find a position. Remember, people can’t help you if they don’t know you need the help!
Step 7. Widen your search
If you are struggling to find work, it is time to kick things up a few notches and start looking at workplaces and industries that you wouldn’t normally apply for.
This could also mean expanding your geographic search radius, especially if your job can be done virtually. Throw your CV at everything and see what sticks!
Step 8. Seek feedback and follow up
If networking, exploring new industries, and widening your search radius don’t result in any new jobs, it is time to start asking for feedback. Simply ask for more information about what they were looking for in a candidate or where you could have improved your application. The worst that can happen is they ignore you, on the other hand you might get some really great feedback that you can put in place for your next job application and interview.
If none of these strategies result in a job immediately, recognize that you’re still benefiting from your efforts. When you have conversations with hiring managers and show them that you’re willing to go the extra step for employment, you’re making connections with those individuals that can result in valuable professional benefits in the future. Also, remember that the fortune is in the follow-up, so don’t be afraid to reach back out to them if you don’t hear an answer on your application!
These times can absolutely be tough mentally, but if you adopt a “can-do” mindset and implement some of the strategies we discussed, you’ll be leagues ahead of the rest of the crowd in terms of securing your income and finding and retaining work during the recession. There is loads of information, support, and job opportunities out there; they just may require you to think outside the box.
Natasha Janssens arrived in Australia as an 18-year-old refugee, alone, without any money or knowledge of Australia’s financial system. Today she is an award winning, financial planner, accountant, mortgage broker and founder of Women with Cents.
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