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14 May 2020

Changing job in a pandemic… and the pandemic that changes your work

In this situation, can you change jobs? Yes, but by facing up to the fact that it will be the situation that changes it. Crumbling sectors, emerging ones and above all how to prepare for the “after. We talked about it with two experts from the HR sector.

We are witnessing a radical change that will have a significant effect on the labor market.

If it is true that typically job opportunities are created during times of change – and not only in times of prosperity – it is also true that many changes will be forced. And we will have to get used to them.

The choice of change is never easy, even during normal times. There are many reasons why we do it: new professional challenges, a desire for economic growth, but also workplace frustration, family reasons or a precarious company situation.


In this new, unexpected scenario, necessity will almost force our hand, since many people will shortly find themselves having to face up to unemployment.

However, what counts, the experts say, is a constructive mental attitude focused on the opportunities. This does not, of course, mean optimism at all costs.


“Crisis”: let us start with the etymology of the word

The word crisis comes from the Latin crisis and from the Greek krísis ‘choice, decision’.

The situation before us is already, in itself, highly symbolic: we can choose what meaning to give to a situation of crisis, like the ongoing health emergency, and we are the ones who choose how to deal with the situation. 

“For those who deal with human resources, a first phenomenon that can be observed is that in this crisis the main actors have reacted positively, in a modern and dynamic manner, making steps that otherwise we wouldn’t have made. A leap forwards, with a distinctive, cohesive reaction and with a significant technological slant”, explains Ottavio Maria Campigli, our Alumnus and Senior Principal of the Executive Search section of Badenoch+Clark. “It is a complicated situation anyway: Goldman Sachs says that it will lead to 150% unemployment with respect to post 2007-2008, although some sectors will come out of it stronger. And that is where the focus must be.”


First thing to do: reprogram ourselves

Let us start from the assumption that the world will never be the same again: flexibility, resilience, creativity, opening and enthusiasm towards the new will win. Furthermore, from now to 2030, 70% of the jobs will have disappeared or changed dramatically, so it goes without saying that we must reprogram ourselves.

In this period, before the labor market reopens, we must, therefore, learn to optimize our time. For example, we need to get immediately down to perfecting our curriculum, with personalized cover letters, constantly gauge the market and the new opportunities, learn to use LinkedIn (well).  All the while assessing our own willingness and flexibility to lay ourselves on the line, communicating all this clearly to the companies we apply to.
And, now more than ever, we must develop ourselves. Take advantage of this period for true continuous learning, with online courses to specialize, maybe those we’ve been putting off too long. Offers have never been lacking and in this period they are increasing.

However, above all, you need spirit of adaptation: we will be eternal students and the market will reward professionals who train well.

The bottom line is to do it now, because in a few months – with many businesses restarted and just as many in difficulty – it will already be too late.



The situation for managers

There will be much more competition for the high level professionals and managers: there has already been a 30% drop in positions over the whole market. “Out of ten projects before, we now have seven. The professionals must work on their unique selling proposition in their own reference market, and the stories with real substance will stand out more in the greater competition”, explains Campigli.


Same industry and ethics

And if the companies certainly make conservative choices on the market – with less propensity to risk – they will tend to look for professionals of the same industry and the professionals will do the same, who will prefer to remain on the “old road”.

“This phenomenon will be very noticeable and intense in Italy, where they have always reasoned often by skills and not by potential; therefore, it is reasonable to expect that the companies will gamble less on employing managers that come from other sectors”, explains Campigli.

Will the process be longer? Not necessarily. An executive selection process normally follows a four or five month procedure, and therefore the current two-month lockdown has little effect in this regard. Interviews are carried out  using Skype/Teams/Zoom etc., although it is to be pointed out that in various cases the positions have been frozen. “It is often a choice of respect and ethics towards the professional involved. Since they have important responsibilities in their current company, we have decided to slow down the recruitment process to be able to better manage the current job and plan the exit calmly”, continues Campigli.


And the wages?

More and more managers  have taken a salary cut of up to 50%, just to keep their jobs and give a positive signal to those going through the same difficulties, but with significantly lower Annual Gross Salaries (for example FCA, but also  Mediaset, whose senior managers reduced their salaries, giving a bonus to the employees).

“Certainly for the managers, in these months, it will not be possible to have pay rises in the company, on the contrary. And also with a view to job change, they will not have exaggerated increases, but we presume that the professional skills of each individual executive will be assessed correctly”.


The new business models

The great gamble is the radical change on many business models,  many boards are asking themselves what the best opportunities to be taken on the digital front are. The must-have is now that of finding management figures to lead the transformation.

On the other hand, technology brings new skills, and many more companies will be undergoing a significant digital transformation.

The data is interesting, and it has been confirmed by a BCG study, from which it emerges that 30% of the positions of high technological content will remain vacant due to a lack of skills on the market: machine learning, augmented and virtual reality, data sciences, are sectors that will grow out of all proportion and that will require competent personnel.


The growth sectors

All those involving connectivity and the related instruments: just think that from January to today ZOOM increased from ten to three hundred million single users a day. And then logistics, the digital and ecommerce, fast moving consumer goods, virtual reality.


Artificial intelligence and virtual reality / augmented reality

These are some of the technologies that will have the biggest influence on the world in the next few years, generating new professionalism and opportunities. As regards AR and VR, for example, by the end of 2020, almost 7.1 million devices will be marketed, equal to a growth of 23.6% compared to 2019 and the long-term growth will increase again for the next few years: Idc envisages 76.7 million units distributed in 2024, equal to compound annual growth rate (Cagr) of 81.5% (source here).


The psychological approach to acquiring skills

However, the key rule is to remember the previous situation: everything put on stand-by will resurface later.

“We are going through the fourth industrial revolution, first of all we must understand what is happening”, continues Paolo Gallo, Executive Coach, Speaker and Author.

And the reality of the facts is that  you must learn other things to get yourself back on track: “It is a mismatch: new jobs require different skills from the lost ones, so a cashier who has lost his or her job cannot become a digital officer unless they reskill. And so, more than unemployed they become unemployable”, explains Gallo.
Therefore, we have to learn those skills that we can offer as human beings and that machines cannot give. “The aspect to improve is to offer things that have a value at that moment and always ask yourself: what are the things that are really necessary and what are those that can be automatized and leave me without a job?”.


Three pieces of practical advice

Paolo Gallo explains that in order to reap when the market reopens under a different guise, now is the time to sow: “It is like deciding to run a marathon in a year’s time: but if you stay at home eating potato chips in front of the TV, when you have to run you will just collapse”.

He has three pieces of advice:


  1. Train (and learn) as much as possible with webinars, courses, articles.
  2. Establish positive professional relationships: give a hand, make small talk, keep up relationships.
  3. Increase credibility/visibility that has value for others: carry out mentoring, or pro bono webinars, activities at the service of someone else.

A book choice

Who moved my cheese?” by Spencer Johnson, to understand how to change yourself in a changing world.