Many businesses are fighting to remain relevant during the COVID-19 global pandemic. But as the business world globally pivots online, new, and perhaps surprising, job opportunities have arisen from COVID-19’s ashes.
Kirsten Brumby, author of Now What? A step-by-step approach to land your new job or career, says now, more than ever, it’s time to “think differently to do differently”.
After another global event, 911, that affected the job market dramatically, Brumby found herself suddenly out of employment. Despite having co-founded a consulting firm that generated seven figures annually and being responsible for recruiting over 50 staff, she was on the job market again.
But 55 job applications later, she had no interviews, no job and no feedback. Brumby began to think differently about job searching and career decisions. She established a new coaching and consulting firm.
Brumby has now spent more than 20 years coaching, training and consulting to teams, organizations and individuals and recently became an award-winning author and online course developer.
Here Brumby shares her top 5 tips to not only survive, but thrive, during a pandemic job market. And success has much to do with harnessing the power of the unconscious mind.
Tip 1: Tap into your unconscious mind
Brumby devised ‘The Drop Dead List’, which is an exercise to help you tap into your unconscious mind to gain clarity about what you really want to do.
“The Drop Dead List exercise not only assists you to understand and articulate what you want and need from a new job or a different career. It also addresses the final piece of the puzzle for achieving clarity through tapping into the unconscious mind – so that you know more about yourself and make that next career decision the best one possible for you.”
Brumby says a large contingency of lower-paid casual or part-time workers in bricks and mortar business like retail or travel have had to quickly assess their skills and abilities and reinvent themselves. Many are women and Brumby insists they need to consider one important thing first: clarity about what they want and what they are more suited to.
According to Brumby, finding clarity, is a crucial step that many people overlook, and it can be the difference between finding the job / career that you love or getting stuck in a rut. Without first finding clarity, people often jump straight into a different job, but end up with the same challenges they had before.
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Critical questions jobseekers and career-changers need to ask themselves are:
- What motivates you at work?
- How do you like to work–solo or as part of a team?
- What is your work ‘personality’? This can determine what jobs you are suited / not suited to
- What’s you work style? Do you have initiative and drive or do you prefer to be given direction?
“Even in a pandemic job market, it’s still possible to land your dream job,” says Brumby.
Tip 2: Land your dream job by volunteering
Volunteering can be an excellent gateway to landing your dream job, says Brumby.
“Volunteering tells you a lot about yourself, and gives you an invaluable insight into an industry, business or organization, and whether you’re suited to it or not. And this test-drive is free – all it takes is some of your time.”
After tapping into her unconscious mind by working through the ‘Drop Dead List’, one client identified that she wanted to work with people and relationships. So, Brumby recommended her client find out what a relationship counsellor does and to volunteer in that space.
“You don’t know what you don’t know,” says Brumby.
“If you’ve never known what a relationship counsellor does, then how would you know if you enjoy it?
“Volunteering in that space is going to give her a better insight and understanding about whether she will enjoy it or not. It’s one of the best ways I know to gain clarity about where your passions lie and what you’re suited to.”
Tip 3: Seek out new pandemic opportunities
For some, COVID has a silver lining. According to Brumby, the pandemic has delivered many new opportunities to jobseekers, especially women, who have entered the ‘Mumpreneur’ space or joined the Virtual Assistant brigade in droves.
Brumby herself has pivoted from providing face-to-face coaching services to delivering her services online and creating products (books and online courses). During the pandemic she has hired two contractors to assist with her business operations.
Brumby identified a swing in thinking towards, ‘how do I create a job for myself?’.
“Changes in job security during the pandemic have given many employees (and employers), space to think about ‘what will happen next.’ This has meant that some have decided they don’t want to be at the mercy of an employer again.”
Some out-of-the box pandemic opportunities Brumby identified are businesses offering products or services around mindfulness and caring for ‘pandemic pets’, which will need pet sitters, pet walkers and pet daycare when their owners return to the office post-lockdowns.
Brumby says there has also been a noticeable surge in online retail and arts and crafts, especially in rural areas.
“Obviously those micro businesses were already operating but now, because people have been shopping online and trying to support local business, that’s opened that market up a lot more for the budding entrepreneur.”
But not everyone is suited to, or will enjoy, running a small business. Brumby cautions against starting your own business in a pandemic unless you have identified you have the “entrepreneurial spirit”.
Tip 4: Use the Drop Dead List to determine if you’re an entrepreneur or a worker bee
“We think of an entrepreneur as someone who has this way out, crazy idea and then they go and implement it and someone gives them money and venture capital, and off they go and they create something,” says Brumby
“But the entrepreneurial spirit is about building things – new products, new services, systems, teams, businesses.”
Brumby cited an example of a woman she coached who works in public health. She couldn’t understand why she was bored after 1-2 years in a job and had to keep swapping jobs.
“Once I identified for her that she had the entrepreneurial spirit – a builder type personality – she had a lightbulb moment,” says Brumby.
“By tapping into her unconscious when using the Drop Dead List, she rediscovered her passion for science and realized the boredom was about the operational role rather than the scientific industry itself. Without clarity, she had thought her problem was science, she’d even started a law degree. When she gained clarity about being the ‘builder type’, she shifted her focus back to science and found the right ‘builder’ kind of job in the industry.”
Tip 5: Make the pandemic work for you
What people do, and how they work, has completely changed because of the pandemic, says Brumby.
The pandemic has resulted in more flexible work conditions, a surge in part-time jobs, and remote working. These changes have been thrust upon us and Brumby says employers need to think, not ‘is this possible?’ but ‘how is this possible?’
For job-seekers, it’s the perfect opportunity to negotiate new jobs –on their own terms.
In 2020-21, the ABS reports a 3.8% increase in the number of businesses. That’s 87,806 new businesses, and this number already takes into account businesses that have closed during the same period. So this means not only is there opportunity for new job seekers just waiting to be found, but that people are making a go of their new business idea and venture off the back of the pandemic.
In addition to this, in June this year, 27% of businesses reported having difficulty finding suitable staff to fill jobs and 19% (or 1 in 5) businesses did not have enough staff based on current operations and this is up from both March, and December 2020. And this spells nothing but good news for job seekers, with more opportunities, and different opportunities, for people trying to move or transition to a new career.
“I don’t know that the workforce is going to be that desperate to get back into paid work (post- pandemic) and just take whatever jobs are going.”
Brumby predicts that for the key or essential workforce, who are typically in lower-paid jobs, nothing will change, they will just keep working. However, in the next salary-tier up, we may see some change.
These employees have seen what’s possible: flexi-hours, working from home; and they will actively seek employment with businesses and organizations that are willing to accommodate how they want to work – or at least be open to conversations around greater employee satisfaction and perks.
“There are jobs for the taking, you just need to do your research, and importantly, understand yourself and what you want. For those that take the time to do this, it may mean the changing pandemic job market ends up being a positive step for your career.”