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opinion piece

BLOG – Covid-19 crisis brings mindset shift about careers

By Chiara Violini, Sales Director, Intoo & Member of WEC’s Career Management group

Published on 24th August 2020

Facing a crisis, there are two types of people: those who wait for the storm to pass and hope not to be carried away with it; and those who proactively take action to protect themselves from the turmoil. The Covid-19 crisis showed similar attitudes from people towards their careers. Some used this period of rapid changes to the world of work to take the time to re-evaluate their trajectory.

As career management company, we provide a range of services, such as coaching, mentoring, career development, change management and outplacement, that help individuals and businesses navigate the complexities of the labour market. During the Covid-19 crisis, we noticed an increase in individuals interested in our career support services. Interestingly, these individuals were still employed. They did not wait to be out of job to reach out to us. They were realizing that a profound change in the labour market was underway and that they should better be prepared for the jobs crisis that is looming.

Job retention schemes and restrictions of dismissals are still cushioning the impact on open unemployment in a number of countries but the OECD Employment Outlook 2020 forecasts that unemployment is projected to reach nearly 10% by the end of 2020, up from 5.3% at year-end 2019. It would go as high as 12%, should a second pandemic wave hit. This unprecedented rise in jobseeker numbers will pose an enormous challenge to administrations and employment services.

To prevent that shock in the labour markets, it is critical that people seize the job opportunities available. But the dynamics of labour markets are complex. A recent study in the UK showed that 56% of respondents are job hunting in a similar industry even though it may be cutting back employment.  This makes sense given that 34% could not come up with examples of how their skills would apply to another job. Knowing which skills to develop to guarantee one’s long-term relevance in the labour market and understanding what added value one’s can bring to the world of work requires expertise and cannot be entrusted to chance, under penalty of a great waste of time and subsequent discouragement. Mapping future skills needs as the Covid-19 crisis has impacted sectors very differently comes across as a clear need for future career development.

That is where career management professionals step in. During the Covid-19 crisis, we helped individuals build their ‘employability’ around three building blocks: training, networking and personal branding. We organized free webinars on job issues. We taught them how to build their CV and expand their network through social media. Harnessing the potential of technology was central as the Covid-19 accelerated the profound changes it has already bring to our ways of working and socializing. Doing online meetings also allowed us to bring more specialists from our different departments to interact with the candidates, therefore enriching the conversation.

Career management services not only help individuals find the opportunities that will land them a job. Awareness and orientation support through career management solutions also helps individuals to build self-confidence and take ownership of their professional lives, allowing them to create careers that fit their personal aspirations.

The Covid-19 crisis induces a shift in people’s mindset about their career. Individuals start to realize that their career depends on themselves and that they cannot only rely on the company they work for to find career support. Not everyone has the necessary tools and the readiness to take this proactive step. But in a world that is increasingly disrupted by crisis of all sorts, such attitude is necessary and the career management sector can definitely play a key role in providing individuals with a compass to navigate the complexity of the labour markets and achieve achieve fulfilling work experiences.

This post is the first of a series of blog contributions by members of the World Employment Confederation’s Career Management group to explore the value added of career management services to people, organisations and society, in particular in a world of work disrupted by the Covid-19 crisis.

WEC’s Career Management group was founded by leading global career management firms LHH, Randstad Risesmart, Right Management and Intoo and keeps expanding to national federations in countries like Belgium and Poland. For more information about WEC’s activities regarding Career Management, visit our dedicated webpage.

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