According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, just 58.7 per cent of people aged 15 and over are in work.
Our unemployment rate has climbed to 7.1 per cent with 227,000 job losses in the last month alone. We have Qantas announcing 6000 job losses, ABC announcing 250 job losses, Woolworths announcing 1350 job losses and the tertiary sector is expected to lose up to 21,000 jobs over the next two years. Needless to say, #jobloss is trending and the concept of an easy "snap back" as the LNP government was peddling has clearly been put to bed.
We need to adapt to the understanding that we are living in a "new normal". Waiting for September to arrive as a heralded end to shutdown frustrations is a pipe dream and despite the end of that month being earmarked as the end of government fiscal support, there is no guarantee that the withdrawal of this domestic aid will signal the conclusion of the Stephen King novel we feel we are living in.
The adjustment to corona-safe practices - the hand sanitiser, the temperature checking, the social distancing and customer counting - are becoming well familiar to us as we go about our business.
We are familiarising ourselves with Zoom, learning new technology to allow us to work and study from home, while still attempting to stay connected to our colleagues, friends and families. It's far from ideal. It's the opposite of normal. But it's all we have.
As a career counsellor, I've been thinking a lot about how to support my clients through the process of surviving a peri-COVID labour market. When the way we work, the type of work and our connection to work are all changing, job search is more complex than ever before.
We have to anticipate change before we can prepare for it and it can sometimes feel like every day brings new rules and guidelines that restrict or alter the way we can move forward. In an already stressful situation, this can certainly make a bad situation feel worse, especially when all the articles online suggest that there is no clear end in sight. So how do we cope?
Networking is a vastly underrated capability and one worth your attention. Spend some time on your LinkedIn profile, build your professional network and take the time to foster authentic relationships with others in the same (or related) industries as you never know where your opportunities are going to arise.
If you aren't a LinkedIn person, use your social media profiles to maintain relationships with people you already know and look for online groups of like-minded individuals that you can connect with.
Start thinking outside the square with regards to how you can apply your skills. What roles can you pivot to that currently exist? What holes are there in the market that your skills could plug? Have you considered the value of Gig work - that is short-term, temporary assignments and contracts that utilise your specific skills to achieve a particular outcome? Thinking differently not just about what you can do, but how you can do it will help you to find new ways to apply your strengths and earn those much-needed dollars.
Thinking differently not just about what you can do, but how you can do it will help you to find new ways to apply your strengths.
You can also update your resume, tailored to this new approach to your work skill set. Include your accomplishments, your unique strengths and how you can bring value to an organisation. While you are doing this, you can also develop a pitch letter that will allow you to engage with a prospective employer and propose a working relationship without applying for a particular job. Identify the problem they may be having and how you are the solution to it. Now more than ever, the concept of you being a company of one is key to success.
Finally, people skills, adaptability, creativity, innovation, digital literacy, critical thinking, leadership, emotional intelligence, and communication are paramount in this labour market, so any opportunity to showcase or build your skills in these areas will help you significantly. Being able to forge genuine connections with others via multiple platforms - Zoom, phone, email, etc - will make you a valuable asset to any organisation. Look at your skill set and identify your strengths and opportunities for development and focus on these areas.
Gosh, it's almost like an Arts degree is valuable in this labour market, isn't it?
- Zoë Wundenberg is a careers consultant and un/employment advocate at impressability.com.au