What goes around, comes around. Well, it's not just a philosophy, but the cyclical business model approves it. Recession is when there is significant agitation in supply and demand, which prevents businesses from making money and standing on their feet. The consumer is lost somewhere, seems like never to be found. Reasons for a recession could vary, but consequences show similar traits across all recessions. Amidst these Hail Mary circumstances, there is one perpetual son of the devil; Unemployment. There is voluntary unemployment when a person is not accepting a job by choice. There is involuntary unemployment where a person wants to work but cannot find a job. And as the plot develops due to recession, the organization starts laying off its employees, presenting them the infamous pink slip that shouts out loud; it's for good, for the good of the organization that it needs to do cost-cutting.
Remembering the great recession
It all boiled down to one major reason, the year 2008 saw economic demolishment, with the bursting of the housing bubble. People went into deep neck debts and were not able to sell any property without incurring a loss. All financial organizations were perishing with respect to their reserves and capitals. It all was a result of being opportunistic, unhealthy business practices, and lack of risk mitigation and management. The crisis hit precisely in 2007 when the price of property, land, majorly housing sector saw a rise in demand due to affordable prices. People started investing huge chunks of their fortune just to be more fortunate. There was an exponential rise in non-commercial banks and financial institutions, who created schemes that made it very easy for stakeholders and shareholders to borrow, but alas! They failed to see the wave getting bigger and so uncontrollable that it could potentially wipe out all that they had built. This whole situation brought down the financial system of firms, and one by one, many sectors and industries took their final breath. There was a spree of companies shutting down as banks could not provide any more loans, and people didn't have the money to invest. Slowly, the circumstances led to a paradox of thrift in the society, and the economy got real slow in its functioning.
If we look at it, the infamously known great recession period of 2008 -2009 caused such intense disorder in certain demographics of many countries that domestic economies tapered permanently, and MSMEs were baffled and moved somewhere else. Structural unemployment was common, and due to a contracting economy, the jobs based on expertise and specialization went for a toss as basic needs where of apical concern. Cyclical unemployment showed up real slow as it took almost a decade to get a healthy labor market. In 2011, the IMF tried to measure these chronic states of unemployment; they declared that the unemployment level had risen to 5% from pre-crisis bars. In the year 2017, the unemployment lowered down to 7% from as high as 10% seen in 2009. That is the highest rate of unemployment we have ever witnessed. There were mass layoffs of 326,392 workers in just February 2009 – The street.
Is the Covid-19 pandemic any different than the great recession?
Not a wrath of business tactic gone wrong, but natural havoc fell upon the world in the form of a virus. Wuhan experienced this demon arriving first. January 2020 came with a pandemic so critical that it imposed lockdown in the world and thereby silencing many loud noises of warehouses, workshops, manufacturing workstations, and places that were the reason for many families to run their households. It's like the entire human race is being controlled by a microorganism that is determined to make it gladiator warfare amongst humans for survival. As reported by The Indian Express, May 2020, 21 billion workers were affected by the pandemic, and mass layoffs occurred due to it in the USA. The numbers are worsening in each domestic economy, be it France, Britain, Italy, Germany, Russia, Japan or our very own India. The filing claims for security in this situation to the government has elevated in millions. Economists around the globe predict a ballpark figure of a 1% downfall in the global economy by mid-2020. However, the after-effects may haunt us for long. Most governments are trying to release money in the society through relaxation packages, but that would barely solve the major issue that all economic crises have shown us; the unemployment rate. As bleak as it gets, structural unemployment is clearly visible in the current market scenario where a horizontal mismatch is very prominent. People do have the skill, but the qualification is missing or vice versa, which is making it more difficult for them to look employable enough.
Whether the COVID pandemic is similar to the recession of 2008 or not is debatable. Looking at the surge in similar traits such as unemployment, one cannot simply ignore the silence of the approaching depredation doppelgänger of the former one.
Industries and the breeze passing by them
Covid-19 has led to a paradigm shift in many leading sectors. Many have plunged their hands in their pockets by laying off employees, and a few embraced the opportunities in this adversity. Industries like Logistics, Hospitality, Airlines, NBFC, Oil & Gas, OEMs of auto parts, Manufacturing, Entertainment, etc. have seen a downfall, and now are the cold markets to look for employment as it will take quite a while for them to regenerate. These industries are either cutting costs or are on the receiving end of the losing demand in the market. On the other hand, Telecom, Insurance, Education technology, REIT, Research, etc. are gathering the rosebuds and blooming their businesses, capitalizing on the opportunities. These are the industries where one may look for daily bread and butter during this crisis.
Many CMO's have reported that they are facing challenges with employees and recruits who can channelize their expertise on practical problem statements, whether be connecting the dots between marketing analytics with the current marketing practices or being able to reciprocate what they promised during their interviews. Here, it is pretty much clear that companies want authenticity, and thus employability shall be expected accordingly. A recent report by Deloitte informs that CXOs and CHROs are more interested in upskilling the existing employees by looking at the strengths and weaknesses of their labor and working on them towards having a more robust workforce. Not only Deloitte but also another superpower in the business world, Amazon had announced that they would focus on training their one-third of existing employees from 2019. This announcement sounds like a considerable thought but is a shunned door for newer talent. To counter this move, the only way is to instill industry standards in oneself and look for patterns that the sector is adopting to upskill its employees. The marketing budget has been affected by a 2.6% drop in the actual budget planned according to CMO survey, 2018. B2C divisions have been affected the most, and it has to see a reduced hiring rate as most of the division's products have been compromised due to demand. Due to fall in demand, marketing divisions will be looking for more hires in their cartel with profiles like sales, growth, business development, etc. BFSI will look to increase hiring by 9.8%, local manufacturing by 7.7%, and biotechnology and software industry by 7.6%. Sales through the internet versus real-time marketing hires will see contrasting effects with each other. Companies with online sales strategy will measure their mettle on their reach and sales percentage and will look for newer approaches to succeed. Financial services are developing their grounds amidst this situation. A lot of fintech companies are emerging and innovating. Looking at the financial statuses of companies would be one more area to look for great opportunities.
Working towards job search and employability
Most importantly, one must select a target industry or field first according to the interest and the skill sets owned. Finding a particular space in an industry, given these difficult times, will be the priority. You must refrain from beating around the bushes and applying anywhere and everywhere. Instead, introspect on suitability. Look for more relevant opportunities that resonate with you. Do not pick up just any opportunity which will pay your bills at present but will make you hear the music later or sooner in your career. Invest your time on research. Researching on firms and markets will give you insights about where the recession-proof strategy is getting developed and which industry is flourishing with job offers that will sustain.
Identify the challenges of your probable employer and build on that approach to provide solutions. If you can document it and use it on the cover letter, it will have a significant impact on the recruiter's choice of picking you as the preferred new joiner. This is called as the pain letter approach. Leverage the internet and build your organic presence on social media platforms. Share and discuss experiences, learn from it; try finding a scope, a pattern. Indulge yourself in rich content and exchange of views. Appreciate and congratulate the progressive and encourage the do-gooder. It will make you familiar with productive people and make your network rich. LinkedIn is one of the prominent platforms to do so, reach out to decision-makers of your preferred field and industry, discuss with them about their goals and their motivation. Find mentorship. A mentor will guide you with experience, which is the best teacher.
Developing case studies and sharing it with your peers and industry professionals will project you as someone who is a great observer and a man open to opinions. This helps a lot in personal branding, can project you as a thoughtful leader. You will attract a lot of eyes who are looking for a mind with a thinking cap. To make yourself exclusive, acquire new skills, and sharpen already existing skills. A person who seems as always a learner has higher chances of getting the traction of employers. Try stepping out of your comfort zone and test yourself, be resilient. It will help you, upskill. Be a master of at least one or two fields in which you can call yourself proficient and match up to industry standards. Companies might have shown a significant slowdown in their hiring process, but they will eventually pick up the pace, and you better be ready. You may also give a thought on pursuing higher education and acquiring the required qualifications.
Another critical piece to your success will be your resume. A powerful resume will be your first stroke on the opportunity. Recruiters reject 70-80% of applicants in the screening rounds itself due to lack of relevance, authenticity, missing story building, and mismatch of job-skill. Incomplete information, grammar errors, missing keywords, unprofessional presentation, messy format, etc. can seriously hamper your chances of selection. One thing to be kept in mind that the employer's time is precious, and he/she will not have more than a minute to go through your resume. It is advisable to bring all those skills, expertise, achievements into a crisp format that all can be absorbed in just a glance. Remember that your objective should be very clear.
A crisis can be of any kind, but it's the consequence that tests your survival. Be the great recession or the COVID-19 pandemic; there is one constant reminiscence - unemployment. When the industries shut, and people facing the heat of economic distress, it is suggestible to focus on 360-degree self-development and be looking for the right opportunity to bloom. Ignorance can make you pay, and attentiveness can surge your career ahead. Industries will plan their strategies, but it's you who have to find a seat in that plan for yourself. Most importantly, be kind and be empathetic to all.
Working among some bright and talented minds in 4titude Consulting has taught me a different way to look at things. Present industry professionals and some of the finest IIM graduates have come together with a heuristic platform to bring out the best from your personality and to ace your interviews and final placements. I have learned about some of the niche industry practices under the guidance of such mentors, who always tried to reflect their own experiences while they guided me. I had a chance to work for a project named 'Triathlon,' a masterpiece of 4titude. In your efforts towards job search and employability, the Triathlon program has three major areas - Resume building, Interview preparation, and mock interviews, and Personality development sessions. This program is beneficial for engineers and MBA graduates who want to build their personality through P-PC balance, i.e., production and production capability. Not just students, industry professionals can navigate successfully through the business world with Triathlon. If you find this interesting, I invite you to visit www.4titude.co.in 4titude's official website, and for any queries, you can mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope you get the right light on your path. All the best. Stay Safe. Stay cheerful.
PGDM- IMT Nagpur
About the Author:
Tushar is pursuing PGDM (Marketing and Human resources) from IMT Nagpur. Prior to which he held a position of Territory Manager - Sales & Marketing in a life sciences firm that catered in laboratory consumables, where he served for 24 months right after he graduated from VIT University, Vellore Campus with a masters degree in Biotechnology.