Opportunity knocks in the “employment fog”

August 9, 2021

Chris Lipscomb, COO Blue Pencil, FCIPD

Contradictory messaging is a hallmark of uncertainty and the messaging right now in relation to the job market is just that. On the negative side, the government’s furlough scheme finishes at the end of September, covid is still doing the rounds, and unemployment is at a 5 year high. On the positive side, vacancy levels are at near record highs with many sectors seemingly short of staff which has led to inflation busting pay rises in key areas. To confuse the plot further, record numbers of employees claim to be fed up and want to resign.

Maybe you are one of those who is thinking exactly what your next step should be. Perhaps inertia has set in because of the fear of further lockdowns etc.  As dissatisfied as you feel, maybe you are questioning whether this is the right time to dispense with your security blanket i.e. your current role, for the vagaries of the big unknown?

Rather than giving you a cheesy quote about “embracing uncertainty”, let me say it in plain terms. In life, short windows of opportunity occasionally become available when you can propel your career forward without waiting for the “dead mans shoes” scenario to unfold. Even if only half of the people who say they are going to resign actually resign, movement is being created as I write this blog in businesses across the length and breadth of the country. Evidence suggests that the economy is now beginning to motor again so get yourself into the driving seat. That promotional role you had been patiently waiting for in your current firm may just be waiting for you now in another firm after someone has decided to change their general life direction or take early retirement to enjoy their family more. They have been spurred into life by the pandemic and so should you. Most of us are unlikely to give up our chosen occupational streams and do something completely different even if we dream about doing so. In truth, having a better role or better career prospects are our drivers and we know that opportunities for development are now being created.

Whilst any career progression always needs to be carefully thought through, the power is shifting from the employer, in favour of the employee as the global economies start to reignite and advance. This set of circumstances may well be short lived but for now it is the reality of the current business environment. Employers are falling over themselves to attract talent and almost all are now prepared to be more flexible in their approach to working. We must also never forget that true freedom is linked to financial independence. Higher salaries/career progression are most likely to be attainable in your existing area of expertise and not by going off to do something random unless you are already suitably wealthy.

In the words of that famous female movie icon Mae West “he who hesitates is last”.