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Is This Just a Cop Out?

Is This Just a Cop-Out?

You should read everything with the eye of a sceptic, including the stuff you get from me. No, I mean it. You see, everything I share is intended to make you think. Don’t accept anything I share at face value. Ask yourself, “Is this making sense? Does this fit with my own experience? Does this guy sound like someone who’s done a bit of homework and knows what he’s talking about?” The conclusion you come to is something I leave to you.

Right now, the job market is in a state of absolute turmoil and no-one, including me, can give you any idea when things might settle down. I wish I could. It’s a situation that could make any young person feel “I’m doomed.” Well you’re not, but a reality check is necessary.

The reality is that the job market is tougher than it’s been at any time in living memory and for me, that’s 72 years! That means that even adopting the best strategy, you’re going to experience more setbacks than you might expect if the economy were booming. At the same time, applying the best strategies is never more important than when things are really, really tough. When there are more job vacancies than there are people available to fill them, you can get away with having no career plan, a lousy C.V. and not preparing as well as you should for a job interview. When jobs are in short supply (it is predicted that we could see 3 million unemployed before this is over) it’s going to be tough even when you do everything right; but taking a casual approach is just not an option. I’m aware that that sounds awfully like a cop-out clause…for me. It must sound as if I’m saying: “In spite of the fact that my help may not get you to where you’re wanting to be for quite a long time, stick with me anyway.” I can understand why it might seem that way. So, let’s focus on what’s in your favour and what you can do, even in a situation as bad as this.

In Your Favour

There’s never been a recession that went on for ever. Scientists are predicting that it could take the economy 3 years to recover from Covid; and there could be sectors of the economy that disappear altogether, never to return. But 3 years is not forever and while some sectors might be obliterated, it will turn out to be the making of other sectors. In fact, this is happening already. There are sectors that are thriving already, as a direct consequence of Covid. No-one’s talking about Amazon going bust are they? Warehouse managers,  delivery drivers are the in-demand jobs. So, tip number one is:

  • Keep your eye on what’s not going badly.

What opportunities might be open to you that you hadn’t ever considered before? Yes, but what if these are not opportunities that would appeal to me? Listen. They probably won’t be. That’s not a reason to reject them as stepping-stones to a career that eventually will appeal to you. Neither am I suggesting that you abandon all hope of ever getting into a career that is really fulfilling.

A few years ago, I needed to fly to Nairobi. The reason I needed to fly to Nairobi was because the girl I was courting, the girl I eventually married, the wife I’m still married to 43 years later, was spending a year in Kenya at the time. My life would have been a whole lot easier if she’d been living in Guildford instead of Nairobi. The journey to Nairobi would have been easier if I could have boarded a direct flight instead of having to travel via Brussels. Unfortunately, life doesn’t set out to make things easy;  but was that a reason to settle for a “second best girl.” Was it heck! Tip number 2 is:

  • Make the most of whatever opportunities present themselves…for now.

When you’re in your teens or early twenties, 3 years seems like forever. The thought of putting your career on hold for as long as that must be agony. And yet. Bad as it is, the crisis has hit you at a time of life when you don’t have mortgage payments to keep up, when losing your job might also result in losing your home, when you don’t have a family depending on your income. As long as your parents are not facing such calamity (my heart bleeds for all of you if they are) you are at least secure. Don’t panic. Time is on your side. Tip number 3:

  • Take no notice of all this garbage about yours being a “lost generation.” Previous generations have been decimated by war. Many of them were truly lost; lost as in gone for ever, lost as in dead! Let’s get a sense of proportion about this shall we?

I’d like to wind up this week’s message with this. I get a feeling that behind the despair felt by so many young people is another feeling: a feeling of being on your own. Nothing could be further from the truth. I know from talking to teachers, parents, and fellow businesspeople that there are lots of people out there doing everything they can to help the younger generation. There are loads of us. Reach out to us. Don’t push us away. I’ll be sharing all kinds of tips every week, which are not going to cost you anything to get hold of. In the current situation, it may well be that the most helpful thing this 72-year-old git can do to support you is to offer reasons to be hopeful. Tip number 4:

  • Stay in touch.

Until next week,

Barry.