The good, the bad and the ugly - How COVID-19 has affected the possibility of a career change?

Written by Josh Musominari

As part of the conversations I have been having with potential job seekers, a common theme and topic of conversation surrounds the possibility of a career change in the current climate. With a large number of people now working from home or furloughed, more and more people, whether through necessity or a change in priorities have been reconsidering their career.


In fact, a survey commissioned by Totaljobs suggested that 20% of those that are not working are already planning and beginning this process, while 50% of the respondents felt they would make a change in the next two years. However, with the market and economy throwing major signs of uncertainty and instability, I wanted to shed some light on whether this will be possible for those looking to take a new step in their careers.

The good

  • Many organisations have embraced a remote working culture and have already started to incorporate this into their recruitment and HR strategies, which could lead to an increased number of opportunities available to those seeking entry level positions.
  • There are multiple training providers and self-study courses available at various price points that are setup for distance learning. Many of them have excellent links to industry, aiding the transition into paid employment. With companies looking to make savings in the years to come, we expect organisations to be creative and resourceful in how they acquire their next round of talent and this could be an area of increased activity for the years to come.
  • The government is beginning to ramp up efforts to stimulate the labour market. With the looming potential of large-scale redundancies, the government have formed economic cross industry task forces to address our economic recovery. Further financial support to businesses coming out of lockdown and increased investment in job and skill training programmes have been suggestions from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and we anticipate that further initiatives will develop.
  • If your employment status has remained unscathed during this period, you may find increasing opportunities within your organisation to develop and grow. With leadership teams looking to find ways to cut their budget and find efficiencies, organisations will be looking for ways to utilise staff more effectively. You may find better training and advancement support through registering your desire to help in other areas internally.

 

The bad 

  • Competition for positions is fiercer than ever. There is a reduction of over 40% in the number of job adverts online, with some sectors seeing reductions of over 80%. To compound this, the number of active applicants to each position has increased eight-fold. At the start of the year we lived in a candidate driven market but now companies will have a much larger pool to choose from. This might have an adverse effect on the possibility of moving into these positions and even the most talented professionals will struggle to stand out.
  • The economic situation has led to multiple organisation putting recruitment freezes in place and the market may see an intense period of uncertainty that will affect all job seekers going forward. While the economic recovery is predicted to be faster than previous recessions, we will still potentially experience reduced activity for the next 12 months.
  • The landscape of business and operations is likely to change as organisations look to find ways to weather the storm. Companies will begin to make wholesale changes to their operations, employing automation and reducing human labour and excess where possible. While these changes will take time, the impact on different fields will be felt in numerous professions that may start to look different as these adjustments take place. This may place further barriers to those looking to make career switches who do not have the foundational experience in place to compete.

 

The ugly 

  • The links between employment and opportunities has shown close links with the threat of the pandemic. While there are positive signals emerging, the potential of further waves has not been ruled out which will further delay the labour market returning to normal.
  • Organisations are likely to avoid risk heavy approaches to hiring going forward and employ more frugal approaches. Previous programmes such as graduate, apprenticeship and returns from parenting are less likely to operate at the same level. HR strategies may begin to focus on the immediate needs of maintaining operations and those looking to switch careers are likely to be ruled out for this period.
  • With the furlough scheme mooted to be ending in October, and the government expending enormous sums to keep the country stable, the willingness to invest further in the types of training and educational resources required to move people back into work and increasing employability may not be a priority.

 

In summary, there are numerous factors that are going to prevent the types of moves and progressions people are looking for. Career changes are apart on the fabric of life and it will likely be more possible as the economy moves forward, but not without economic stimulation. The number of sectors and organisations that may be out of operation could leave huge gaps in the market and career changes could become a necessity in certain fields and industries.


We live in an advanced time with the amount of resources available meaning that those that have been using the lockdown to get a head start in self-learning and adapting to the situation might present unique hiring prospects going forward and the market would be wise to recognise and support these efforts. The government will need to make astute interventions and companies will begin to see unique value in the market that should be capitalised on.

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