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How to make yourself more employable

17 July 2020

Losing work is no picnic. But being stood down, let go, fired or made redundant has become a reality for many across the nation. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, at least one million Australians have lost work due to coronavirus and more job losses are expected ahead.

Research has also found that women have been hit harder, with 8.1 percent of women losing work compared to 6.2 percent of men. It’s enough to make you want to go to bed and throw the doona over your head – but being proactive right now is key to surviving in the current jobs market.

And, whether you’re in stable work or looking for a new job, now is also a great time to upskill. Doing so gives you leverage and helps ensure you’re as employable as you can be going forward.

What’s happening in workplaces right now?

Although you may be one of the lucky people out there with job security, it’s a fact that coronavirus has impacted just about every industry in Australia. Many employees have lost their jobs entirely. Some have been asked to work reduced hours. There are companies putting a hiring freeze in place, which means an employer stops hiring non-essential staff for a period of time to save money.

Or you may have been stood down – which is essentially unpaid leave. You’re still employed, but your employer is hitting the pause button until the company re-opens and you can go back to your old role. If you’re in this situation, you may be entitled to JobKeeper or JobSeeker payments to help you out. 

Now’s the time to be agile

It’s the buzz word of the moment, but what does being agile really mean? Well, in the workplace it might mean you’re open to new ideas, resilient and excited about learning. You’ll also be a great communicator and enjoy collaborating as part of a team.

You’ll also be resilient even in the face of overwhelming or unexpected change – like job loss. While the temptation is to fight, or feel like a victim, experts say you’re far better off trying to embrace change, choose how you react to it and look at what opportunities it may present.

Staying motivated, energetic and positive about the job-hunting process is key – even though it can be hugely challenging. If you don’t get hired for a role, try not to spiral or give into negativity. Instead, take the time to write down what you learned and start prepping for the next interview.

Looking after your mental health with strategies such as relaxation, meditation and mindfulness can also help you navigate the peaks and troughs of the job-hunting rollercoaster.

5 tips to help you become more employable

If you’ve lost your job or simply want to make sure you’re doing all the right things to stay employable in today’s unpredictable jobs market, these tips can help.

Tip 1. Look at ways you can upskill. Now is the time to focus on your professional and personal development – and you’ll want to start by assessing your skill-set and looking at how to plug the gaps. As workplaces shift due to AI, both tech skills and soft skills are essential for future-proofing your career. Covid-19 has led to a surge of free online courses at TAFE, Udemy and LinkedIn – but the sky’s the limit with many university degrees now online as well.

Tip 2. Boost your visibility. Job-hunting is overwhelmingly online these days, making social media a huge driver in the employment sector. Being visible on LinkedIn and ensuring your profile is regularly updated can improve your employment prospects. Similarly, engaging with your audience and posting articles demonstrating your expertise can also gain you the attention of recruiters and HR managers.

Tip 3. Be proactive. If you hear there are going to be job losses at your company, don’t wait; start applying elsewhere, just in case. Get a finger in every pie: search jobs boards, let colleagues and friends know that you’re job-hunting, and approach recruiters in your niche. Research companies you want to work for and reach out to HR or the heads of departments directly. Even if there are no jobs there right now, it’ll show potential employers you have a good work ethic and can take the initiative.

Tip 4. Network. Many employers don’t openly advertise jobs – and savvy job-seekers will need to tap into the ‘hidden’ job market to snap them up. To do this, start actively building your professional network, particularly with well-connected people. Join associations in your industry and work on your ‘elevator pitch’. If you need help, a mentor or careers coach can teach you networking strategies.

Tip 5. Set yourself apart. Competition for jobs is fierce and even more so in an economic downturn – so to stay employable you want to articulate why you’re a good fit for a role. If the job requires you to boost a company’s social media presence, you’ll want to sell your specific skills in that area, perhaps explaining how you grew a former company’s socials by 400% in your cover letter. You might suggest a few strategies the employer could try, demonstrating that you know your stuff.

Wrap up

Navigating the jobs market can be overwhelming even during a good economic climate. So when things are unpredictable or a downturn is looming, it’s especially important to upskill, stay positive and proactive.

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