How will our careers look like after COVID-19? For many, our concerns still centre on the here and now as we attempt to adapt to the “new normal”. Yet once things start to settle, questions will begin creeping in around what the new world, and particularly the new world of business, will look like once this crisis subsides.
If we look at the 2008 economic crash for guidance, it doesn’t paint a reassuring picture. Certainly not in the short-term. In the US, more than 8 million people lost their jobs when stocks plummeted and it took around four years for the markets to recover.
By comparison, since COVID-19 took hold more than 6 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits. A trend that is rising, globally. The most optimistic estimates put recovery around the two-year mark but more pessimistic numbers place it at around a decade.
What we know for certain is that we’re facing an extended period of graft and decline and the business world post-coronavirus is going to be markedly different. It’s how we approach and face these changes now that will ultimately determine just how different.
A New New World
According to YouGov, the number of people worried about the long-term impact of the coronavirus on unemployment jumped from 26% to 62% in just one week. More than half (52%) of us expect the economy to be in recession within a year and 7 in 10 millennials are concerned COVID-19 will impact the job market and future of their careers.
What skills will be in demand? Is finance still a safe bet, or will there be a spike in labour-automation? Should you take a chance going freelance or stick to what you know?
With widespread job losses and company closures, the quantity of jobs post-coronavirus is set to fall. This is a given. Yet, the skills desired by those companies who do survive, and who have jobs to give, are also set to shift.
For starters, businesses have become digital overnight. Projects that were initially on the roadmap months and years down the line are now being rolled-out within weeks to meet evolving demands.
It’s as if every company has now become a startup. These businesses and employees won’t be able to unlearn the efficiency and productivity rewards of remote working. So candidates will need to be fluent in digital to survive. A Slack savant. A HubSpot hero. A zoom fairy. There’s no turning back from that.
With more people competing for (much) fewer positions, employers will be able, and therefore obliged, to raise the recruitment bar. Whereas founders and executives have traditionally competed for talent; curating job descriptions to be eye-popping, edgy, and exciting; headhunting every employee, they now hold the upper hand.
Strength from adversity
The most attractive, and therefore secure, employees will be those who organisations will recognise as agile. Those who have transferable skills and experiences that cross-industries, platforms and business models ,and which make them stand out from the crowd. The generalists will now prevail.
This means many of us will need to find strength in being multi-faceted; in thriving in such cross-functional environments. We’ll be interdisciplinary. Multi-skilled. Like a comms whiz with SQL skills and a penchant for partnerships. Or we’ll see the merging of complementary positions and the blurring of roles, such as marketing and design. Companies will need us to thrive in volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous environments. They’ll expect us to become entire departments of one.
And while this may sound overwhelming, it’s hugely positive.
During the lockdown in China, a Nielsen survey found that 81% of those quarantined for COVID-19 took the opportunity to take an online course. 81%!
There has never been a better time to take stock of where we are and where we want to be. And there’s never been a more important time to level up, be bold, and fortify our CVs. Ready for the generalist revolution.
Guest post by Roei Deutsch, co-founder and CEO of Jolt
Main image picture credits: Jirsak/Shutterstock
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