Published: 27 April. Written by: Marina Gask.
If you’re considering a new career in the not-too-distant future, where do you even begin? Here, a recruitment expert provides a snapshot of the world of work to help you get started
There’s no doubt that the last 12 or so months have been an uncertain time for pretty much everyone professionally. With furlough, redundancies, long-term working from home and, in some cases, whole industries unable to operate as normal, it’s been genuinely hard to see the wood for the trees when it comes to our careers.
Some would argue that if ever there was a time to give your job a shake-up, it’s now. Natasha Stanley, Head Coach for Careershifters, says: ‘When everything in the world is up in the air and the rules are already out the window, it’s a great time to change careers or launch a business. Before the pandemic, everybody knew the rules of the game, but now nobody is playing by them. It means you get to move into or create something new in a much more receptive environment than before.’
As the world collectively tries to catch its breath, use this time to reflect and reassess your options. Start by doing some research. ‘Find out from industry outsiders what’s happening in sectors that interest you. All it takes is a conversation with the right person to open a door that would never have been opened previously. You could be pleasantly surprised to find your skill set is exactly what’s needed right now.’
But before you start thinking of changing your career, here are a few things to be aware of.
1. Some sectors are actually thriving
Considering a career move (or lunge) into the world of wellbeing? Now could be the perfect time, says recruitment expert Amanda Reuben. ‘Anything holistic or fitness-related is huge right now, especially because many of these services can be offered online.’
According to leading global management consulting firm McKinsey, other sectors that are on the up include healthcare, professional services (such as law), STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), management/leadership and the creative arts. Perhaps now’s the time to launch that Plan B…
2. Your skills are transferable
Explore how you can redeploy your skill set. For instance, while the once thriving events industry has been massively impacted, the skills involved can be extremely useful in other roles. ‘If you’ve worked in events, you tend to be pretty good operationally, which makes you ideally suited for working for charities. Being very well organised and cost efficient and able to negotiate with suppliers makes a role like managing the day-to-day running of a charity ideal. I have seen a number of individuals make this side move very successfully,’ Reuben tells us.
3. Sustainable and artisanal industries are taking off
Companies that are eco-friendly and run sustainably are thriving. If you have skills and knowledge that could support eco-friendly brands, you could find you’re very employable. Think food-related, packaging or locally made. ‘People are also keen to support local businesses producing craft beer, gin and artisanal foods,’ explains Reuben. Rather than looking for a job, you could go it alone and turn your skills into a side hustle or even a thriving business. Consider what you love doing and whether it’s financially viable.
4. Tech is huge right now
Now is the optimum time to brush up on your digital skills, according to experts. ‘There seems to be especially huge demand for expertise in FinTech (financial technology) sales,’ says Reuben. With the proliferation of online services and communities since lockdown, business owners are crying out for digital support to back them up. ‘Some companies are going down the route of investing in what artificial intelligence can do for them. As the world becomes more digital, this is definitely a growth area, as are cybersecurity and cryptocurrency,’ she says.
5. The Brexit factor is worth considering
Since the UK left the European Union, businesses with import and export involved (for example, pharmaceuticals, the automotive industry and the food industry) have been affected by new regulations, paperwork and tariffs. This is impacting on costs and, in turn, jobs. Companies that rely on Europe for the manufacture of their products, or for their actual customers, may well be struggling right now, which means less opportunities for employment. So if you’re already in these industries, or considering them, you might want to plan ahead, reassess your options or think about new ways to specialise.
6. Furlough loyalty is a thing
‘I’ve come across instances of what I would call “furlough loyalty”, where people who have been furloughed by their companies are nervous about moving on [from their role] since being brought off furlough. New roles don’t interest them because they feel a sense of misguided loyalty to that employer,’ Reuben explains. Equally, people are not leaving ‘safe’ jobs. ‘Normally if I approached someone who’s been in a company for two or three years with the prospect of a new opportunity, I wouldn’t have any trouble finding interested candidates. But at present, very few people are leaving their stable jobs.’ This means that while unemployment is high, there is less ‘churn’ among the workforce. That can mean more opportunities for jobseekers within newly thriving sectors as roles are not being snapped up by the already employed.
7. Professional services are booming
‘The law and accounting sectors have stayed stable throughout the last couple of years,’ says Reuben. ‘They’re not going to be adversely affected by Brexit or by the pandemic. In fact, I’ve seen some law and accounting firms absolutely thriving,’ she adds. So now could be a prime time to consider that training course for help boost your career…
8. Business support is needed
With so many start-ups launching in lockdown (more than 85,000 businesses opened online stores or joined online marketplaces in the four months from March to June 2020), there’s been an increase in demand for business development support to help make these new ventures a success. ‘Soft skills such as good communication abilities are crucial for these roles, as are being driven and tenacious. In some ways these are more important than your technical abilities. Marketing and sales skills are so valuable to these companies and we’ve sometimes really struggled to fill those roles. People who understand concepts such as PPC (pay-per- click) and SEO (search engine optimisation) are highly valued right now,’ advises Reuben.
9. We can work from anywhere (finally!)
Preconceptions of how and where we work have changed irrevocably since the rapid and necessary shift to working from home. Tech firm Siemens, for example, recently created a ‘work from anywhere’ policy for 140,000 of its employees, allowing them flexibility for a proportion of their work week. This shift opens up more opportunities if you are physically disadvantaged or live in a geographical location that’s distant from a particular place of work or sector. It also means greater flexibility around childcare or looking after the elderly. And saying goodbye to your commute could mean a better work/life balance, too.
Considering going freelance in your career and becoming your own boss? Take a look at our useful piece on funding a freelance lifestyle.