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The Pros and Cons of Job Hunting in the COVID Recession

The world is a tough place to live right now. But does that mean you should put your career on hold? 

It’s a conundrum.

If you’re currently employed, there are some voices in the community saying “count your lucky stars and be satisfied with what you have”. There’s also the implication that wanting more than what you have is selfish when so many others are struggling. 

I disagree.

Yes, Australia has entered a recession for the first time in 29 years and there are currently over a million unemployed Australians. 

However, wanting to move forward with your professional life and get ahead is NOT selfish, although it could be challenging to achieve in the current climate. Let’s consider the pros and cons of job hunting during the current recession. 

The Good News: There are a lot of jobs out there 

Yes, COVID-19 has made many roles disappear, but budget is not the sole factor dictating who is made redundant. 

What do I mean?

In the PR, digital and advertising sectors there are two major reasons why roles were made redundant. The first is work related. Budgets have been cut, projects have been put on hold and subsequently, there was just not enough work or budget to sustain existing teams.  This seems logical enough, but what might come as a surprise is who is being made redundant. It’s not the highest salary earner or even the newest staff member who is being cut, it’s what’s known as ‘deadwood’. 

I wrote an article on this exact trend (non’-performers & redundancies) earlier this year discussing how many agency owners started 2020 seeking to hire new blood for their businesses and get some fresh ideas circulating. Whilst COVID-19 might have prompted companies to make calls on more roles than they might have otherwise, most of the redundancies would have proceeded with these redundancies regardless of the pandemic. 

So, now is the best time to get your CV in shape and contact your “wish list” of companies that you would love to work with.  There ARE jobs out there and employers are actively looking for proactive innovators like yourself to bring into their teams. 

If you specialise in eCommerce, retail, food, liquor or homewares, now is a fantastic time to be looking. These industries have recorded profit jumps during Covid-19. Electronics retailing giant Harvey Norman said its comparable sales between March 1 and March 17 had increased by 9.4 per cent for its Australian Stores. Home Offices anyone?! JB Hi-Fi stores ran out of Apple Macbooks entirely for the month of March. 

So, talents specialising in these specific sectors – it’s your time to shine! Target specific clients/agencies, tailor your CV and get that elevator pitch polished and ready. 


The Not-So-Good News: Starting a new job in this environment has its risks

Even in a booming economy, resigning and starting a new job has its risks. Clashing work styles/ cultures and unrealistic expectations from employers are two of the most common reasons professionals choose to leave a new role.

However, COVID-19 has made starting a new job a little riskier. Now that we are in a recession, the future of many businesses is likely to become precarious and unclear. If the company you get a new role with suddenly has to make cuts, they may implement the ‘last one in, first one out’ rule or cut your hours/ salary back to protect the jobs of staff members who have been there longer. 

This risk can be managed. Do your research and get a good idea of how long your potential employer has been around, their overall position in the industry, their reputation and the brands they work with. If a company is well established, has a reputation as an industry leader and has a diverse client portfolio then it is probably in a good position to weather hard economic times and may even have done so before. 

Ultimately, looking for work in a recession isn’t that much different to looking for work in a growing economy. Whilst different skill sets and experience will be at an advantage in this environment, there are plenty of opportunities emerging as the needs of businesses change.

Adopt a growth mindset, and the rest will follow