“This too shall pass” is a popular saying derived from ancient Persia that reflects rather elegantly and succinctly on the ephemerality of the human condition. It’s a mantra that many of us have undoubtedly been muttering under our collective breaths quite often since March.
Because, whilst it currently seems as though the coronavirus pandemic is never going away; it will.
It’s how we deal with the fallout when the dust settles that will really test us and few markets are going to be as severely affected by the current state of the world as the jobs market.
Thousands of people have not only lost their jobs thanks to the ramifications of the pandemic and subsequent economic lockdown (not to mention the recession) but their entire careers. And with Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s apparent contempt for the creative sectors and refusal to put his hand in his pockets for them, are we heading for a future where there are 100 creatives scrambling for every job? That might be an overstatement, but even so, there has never been a better time to build a little resiliency into your career and safeguard yourself from an unprecedentedly disruptive market.
So, here are a few ways you might want to consider preparing yourself for this newest of new normals.
Building your skillset
Your skillset should always be evolving as the jobs market does likewise. Particularly in the creative industries, it’s never a bad idea to invest time into learning a new skill or even a new piece of software. There are always more skills to learn and the more skills you have to pull out of your back pocket, the more likely you’ll be to win a job, a client or a gig over the next person.
Start by doing an audit of your skills, figuring out the ones you need to fill out.
Think of it like a checklist - if you’re lacking in any one area then that’s the area you should be focusing on. It’s also worth noting certain skills will be more relevant in a post-COVID world. Your video conferencing skills and familiarity with remote working protocols and software should be on-point, because that’s definitely where the world is heading.
Having a strong network of contacts is always going to be vital but it’s going to be doubly so in months to come, when we’re going to be relying on each other more and more as companies come and go and industry patterns begin to shift. Don’t neglect your contacts - reach out to other creatives on your Creativepool profile and LinkedIn and let them know you’re still there and ready to work.
Networking is also a wonderful way of expanding into other industries
If you’re in the market for a new role or a new client, it’s also far easier to reach out to them through your network than by going through the conventional application process. And they’re far more likely to actually get back to you too!
Embracing the gig economy
Iv’e been freelancing for over a decade now and honestly, I’d never even considered looking back unless I absolutely had to. The freedom of being able to choose the work you take on when you want to take it on and fit work around your life rather than the more typical alternative is truly liberating and in such an unstable economy, it’s always better to keep all your eggs in multiple baskets.
I’ve lost dozens of clients in the last 6 months due to COVID-19 but I’ve gained dozens more
That’s what’s so powerful about the gig economy - it often takes with one hand and gives back with two. Do note, however, that a certain degree of willpower is required if you’re going to make the most of the freelance lifestyle. It’s not a career path for those that like to coast by doing the bare minimum because if you do the bare minimum then you won’t get paid.
Of course, I’ve only just scratched the surface here really and this guide is only really relevant for those who have already built careers for themselves. For graduates just leaving University, the job market is looking especially bleak and they might need to consider taking lower status or lower-paid jobs than they were hoping for to get a foot on the ladder.
Still, we’ve come through worse as a society and it’s important to always keep looking ahead. Whether you’re a fresh-faced graduate or an elder statesmen, we’re all going to have to accept the idea that lifelong learning is the new normal as far as the jobs market is concerned. And really, is that so bad? Have you ever regretted learning something new
Post-pandemic work is going to be all about tearing down the preconceptions of how work is done and where it is done from
For geographically disadvantaged individuals, this is arguably a major bonus. It also gives agencies and brands the luxury of choice, because their scope is now global by default. It’s going to be a pretty scary world, granted, but there’s a lot to get excited about too. Just be flexible, be patient and be ready. Always.