As the UK nears the end of its second national lockdown, the predictions for the labour market in 2021 are only slightly less bleak. In the second quarter of next year, the Government expect a total of 2.6million people – around 1 in 20 British residents – to be out of work. Engineering companies will make up a substantial amount of these job losses, with large global Engineers and manufacturers such as Bombardier, Aston Martin and Dyson all already announcing mass job cuts during 2020.
For those who avoided furlough or redundancies, career development has been pushed to the sidelines. Public sector pay gaps and tightened private sector budgets signal the start of an intensive period of cost-cutting and sales focus for the impending economic recession, meaning the most valuable employees will be those who are most likely to retain their jobs and succeed in their chosen career paths.
Here are six things you can do to improve your job and career prospects in the year ahead.
.. Or as irreplaceable as an employee can possibly become. Harness all the skills and knowledge of those around you by asking to shadow superiors and holding knowledge-sharing sessions with colleagues. Develop a reputation as a reliable, trusted pair of hands who has mastered systems and processes, and others will treat you as the go-to for anything involving your area of expertise.
The more visible you are, the more you will be chosen for leading roles in important projects, and the more you will access, observe and learn from your seniors. The more you grow and develop through involvement in your organisation, the more vital you will be seen to the organisation as a whole, and the more superiors and managers will invest in your development.
Be prepared to go the extra mile with additional effort at work by:
Whilst this requires more effort, the results are almost always worth the input. Request targets if you don’t already have them and ensure you consistently meet and exceed these targets. For team targets, put yourself at the top of the leader board. Track your progress against these targets with a formal record, so that in development conversations with your manager and in appraisals, you can refer to these statistics for hard evidence of your diligence and success.
In addition to striving for results that are backed up by data, demonstrate creativity and innovation by thinking up new ways to achieve these targets. Business leaders are entrepreneurs in their own right, and will pay attention and be impressed by others who take it upon themselves to develop creative solutions to existing problems, and who are brave enough to put these forward to boards and decision-makers.
Managers will reward employees who demonstrate ambition, initiative and commitment to getting the job done, whatever it takes.
Never underestimate the power of a positive attitude. Any manager will think highly of individuals who embrace problems with a positive and inquisitive attitude, and those who are enthusiastic about encountering new projects and tasks.
The old saying ‘interested is interesting’ is also applicable at work. Business leaders and senior managers spend so much time in meetings about problems and advising other people on what to do, they can receive little interest in their own challenges from others. Frequently take an interest in the roles of your superiors: approach them in informal settings or in ‘dead’ time such as waiting for hosts of online meetings, and take a genuine interest in how their day is going, what they’re working on and how the pandemic has been affecting them. Listen to their answers and ask more detailed questions to understand how you could provide support, and put forward suggestions of how you could help. Form a strong connection to managers and leaders who could soon help you in your career.
Whilst classroom learning is out of the question during lockdowns and for those who are self-isolating or shielding, online education programmes can provide just as many training and development opportunities from the comfort of your own home.
All the following are offered for free:
For a small cost, specialist Engineers and technicians can also renew vital industry-specific certificates and licenses. VHR provides initial and refresher Online Aviation Training across the following areas:
Find out more about our Online Aviation Training courses.
1-2-1 meetings with your manager are crucial to tracking your career progress and addressing any training and development needs. If you don’t have 1-2-1s, start to implement these, even if it’s a 15-minute Zoom call scheduled for every week. Use these 1-2-1s to ask for feedback from your manager, and ask questions such as:
By positioning yourself as your manager’s number one supporter, not only will your team be more successful, but your manager will fight to keep your job if the time comes when the business hits financial difficulties. In the long-term, line managers will recognise your drive and ambition, and will put you forward for training and development courses, provide you with specific guidance and advice to help you overcome challenges, and champion you for pay rises and promotions.
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