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The New Daily
The New Daily
Matt Johnson

How Australians can find work and pandemic-proof their careers

Job seekers should be open minded and focus on their skills when looking for work. Photo: TND

Finding work has never been so difficult, but job seekers can boost their chances by learning new skills and broadening their horizons.

Keeping an open mind increases the number of opportunities available to those seeking work, especially during a time of economic upheaval.

And learning how to articulate your skills and strengths will give you a leg up at interviews.

Workers should consider job ‘clusters’ over career paths

In a report entitled The New Work Mindset, the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) says workers can improve their employability by thinking about how they fit into broad ‘job clusters’, rather than narrow occupations.

The idea is based on an analysis of 2.7 million job advertisements, which found that each job gives workers the skills to do 13 others.

For example, teachers often have the maths skills required to become statisticians, and solicitors often have the analytical skills to become policy analysts or economists.

All fall within the category known as ‘informers’ – as the graphic below demonstrates.

FYA head of research Alex Snow told The New Daily the disruption caused by the pandemic is a timely reminder for workers to think about “a lifetime of careers, rather than the career of a lifetime”.

And he said the pandemic has created jobs within The Carers, Informers and Technologists job clusters.

“Young people before the crisis were more likely to have 18 jobs over six careers, and many are expecting with the disruption to the economy that this could increase,” Mr Snow said.

Decisions about the roles you apply for should be guided by your core skills, strengths and interests, and think broadly about the portfolio of skills you have, how you developed them and how you refine them.

“Evidence how your skills are related to the job you’re going for and how they could be applied today.”

Alison Hernandez, APAC managing director of career transition firm Randstad RiseSmart, also stressed the importance of being flexible in today’s jobs market. 

“I think one of the mistakes people can make, especially now, is expecting to get to their destination overnight as opposed to playing it like a game of chess,” Ms Hernandez told The New Daily.

“Having an open mindset may give you the confidence to take a step to the left – or even backwards – and gain some valuable new job experience that can then fast track your future progress.”

More workers head online as digital skills become crucial

Northern Territory-based media professional Jamal Ben Haddou is one of thousands of younger Australians juggling full-time work with extra-curricular learning as job security fears intensify.

His online diploma in business management not only gives him something to do during lockdown, it provides a safety net in case he’s made redundant.

“It’s entirely online and self-paced, which is pretty convenient, and it’s also allowing me to acquire a broad range of skills that can be used in a lot of different workplaces,” he told The New Daily. 

“It’s a way to safeguard myself and have a contingency plan in place in case my job situation changes, so I can be prepared to bounce back.”

Indeed ANZ head of career insights Jay Munro backed Mr Haddou’s actions.

With businesses shedding more than 830,000 jobs since the beginning of the pandemic, Mr Haddou said the lockdown was the perfect time for workers to learn new skills – both technical and social.

“Showing a commitment to self-development can be seen in a very positive light,” Mr Munro told The New Daily. 

“Working remotely has tested our soft skills including communication and emotional intelligence, requiring us to rapidly improve on them to ensure we work proficiently and productively.”

HireSmart tips to pandemic-proof your career

  • Do a self-assessment to figure out your A, B and C lists. The A list includes tasks that drive and energise you; the B list, necessary evils that you can easily accomplish; the C list, tasks that sap your energy. Seek jobs involving tasks that largely fall into ‘A’ and ‘B’
  • Use close colleagues as a sounding board to help figure out what tasks you excel in and where you have room for improvement
  • Recognise how your previous experience can address keywords within job advertisements and tailor your CV to its requirements
  • If you are unemployed, consider two-to-three-month intensive courses that give you another in-demand competency.
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