Worries about job security will I’m sure be dominating the thoughts of many people working in retail right now.
While the extension to the government’s job retention scheme is to be welcomed, for many retailers it merely delays the job cuts that will inevitably come at some point in the not-too-distant future.
The next twelve months and beyond are certain to be anxious and/or frustrating times for many people. For those whose roles are secure, frustration may come in the form of seeing their career progression opportunities temporarily thwarted.
With bonuses set to be cancelled for all but the fortunate few, high-fliers may be tempted to jump ship in search of a better deal. But leaving a job voluntarily on the cusp of a deep recession is a decision filled with risks.
Just as likely is that people find their role no longer exists under a new, streamlined business structure. For these people the choice may be altogether starker – spend a period of time out of work or be prepared to move sideways or even downwards either within or outside of their organisation.
In good times, a CV that shows a step down the career ladder will often set alarm bells ringing among prospective employers. In bad times, however (and let’s be frank, these are the very worst), a move that might ordinarily work against a candidate should now be seen as a positive.
Most importantly, it demonstrates that a person has the character to swallow their pride and do whatever it takes to support themselves and their family through difficult periods.
There are other, less pragmatic reasons why taking a role you are overqualified for could be a positive career move. With consolidation expected within the retail sector, there may be opportunities to develop in larger, more diverse organisations albeit from a lower starting position.
It also provides an opportunity to show employers your versatility and acquire new skills that will stand you in good stead when the market recovers.
In some cases, it may be necessary to move outside of retail while the sector’s wounds are healing, in which case those learnings will become useful if and when you return.
If you do find yourself changing your employer, whether, by choice or circumstance, it is more vital than ever you do your due diligence on the business you are joining – their strategy, the strength of their balance sheet and organisational culture – to satisfy yourself they will be around in the long-term.
From the employer’s perspective, a flooded jobs market presents an opportunity to attract talent you wouldn’t normally get access to. These recruits can in turn help develop the people they themselves manage.
My advice to employees, therefore, is to seize whatever opportunities you can. Don’t be afraid of a step sideways or downwards. And keep at least half an eye on a more positive future.