Facing the challenge in London's job market
It’s hard to remember that only 12 months ago the London jobs market was viewed as extremely buoyant, offering an enormous range of opportunity that was rare within a European context.
As a Central London based recruitment firm we have been able to enjoy the opportunities that our clients have experienced by tapping into a more diverse and highly skilled range of applicants than in any other European centre
Certainly when we look back and see reports which highlighted a forecast of growth of 16% of London opportunities in Jan 2008 (Prospects forecast Jan 08) within professional services, property, technology, media and financial services to name a few sectors, we didn’t anticipate that 12 months on we would be faced with a depressed job market, or, our candidates, with the task of learning what to do / how to cope with the possibility of redundancy or being unemployed for the first time.
We are hearing in the press, almost daily, of London job losses within major corporations and, perhaps more quietly, of cuts made within smaller London based firms.
Organisations are faced with the task of planning for the next 12 months; some with extreme difficulty, which in turn affects the ability of its employees and potential job hunters to plan their careers with certainty in many sectors.
Many people will remember the downturn in 1999-2001 and the recession of the early 90s and 1979/80. It is extremely difficult for a jobseeker to feel confident when we are surrounded by bad news in the press.
However, the real key to success is not to panic. For those who have been forced to look at new employment, through no choice of their own, the job market in London will still remain extremely competitive, perhaps even more so, now there are many more applicants for each job advertised. Many firms have downgraded their job opportunities and will be more selective in their shortlist, than they were 12 – 18 months ago. But remember there will always be many organisations and firms who are still hiring and looking for skilled staff.
Contracting and temporary work also offers a valuable way to maintain skills and build new ones. It also offers the chance to build up networks of contacts, something that we in the UK are not always good at, but in which we should learn a lesson or two from our European counterparts. Many people are now looking at gaining unpaid work experience as a way of building skills and knowledge or even exploring voluntary charity work.
There are other reasons to feel positive. A recent article in The Independant highlighted the fact that many people were choosing this time to emigrate overseas, being enticed by better weather and the hope that there would be a more stable future in relation to job hunting. This will create job openings for others in London. Coupled with the diversity of businesses, and the number of businesses as well as the opportunities that 2012 may offer, I know I would certainly prefer to be in London at this time.
In addition, we now have the internet as a fantastic resource for information and learning. Unlike in the last 2 recessions, we are able to build our skill set, learn about new job opportunities and network at the click of a button.
Therefore, it is important not to sit tight and just wait. This is a good time to review carefully your capabilities and ambitions and see if there are gaps within what the London job market requires and what it has to offer us as individuals.
You may choose this time to change career even if you are in work, in the knowledge that many good firms will hire if they have skills that are in high demand. Some people believe that they can take on more responsibility in a new firm which values their skills and experience gained from working in other firms, while their current employer may not offer them the career development they are looking for.
Nevertheless, more than ever, success for the job hunter will require a reality check. Know that you may have to apply for more jobs than before, in order to secure an interview. Understand that different jobs may need you to highlight different skills and make sure that you put the effort in accordingly.
The internet makes it very easy to apply for any job advertised even if your cv does not have the required skills. When applying for any job, make sure that you don’t just put your relevant experience in a covering letter, but that relevant skills are highlighted in the body of the cv.
Keep up to date with the news and what is happening in your chosen industry. There is nothing worse than having an interview with someone who says they want to work in your industry sector, but knows nothing about the industry or its competitors.