Has your job been a casualty of COVID-19?

June 07, 2020

Here in New Zealand, we are on the cusp of moving to Level 1 on the COVID-19 recovery scale. In many ways the country has already returned to normal – people are ignoring the contact-tracing registers in stores; bypassing the hand sanitisers; gathering in numbers greater than 100, and walking suspiciously close to total strangers. Our government is being hailed for its exemplary leadership, and for being the first country in the world to eliminate the COVID-19 virus. Yet, our economy is crippled, and our small-but-mighty creative comms industry is far from being back to ‘normal’.

Almost every day, I receive at least one email from somebody saying that their role has been made redundant and asking whether I know of any job opportunities out there. My guess is that the number of industry redundancies would now run into the hundreds. When you combine redundancies with the number of staff who have had their wages reduced, and given that we have only around 12,000 people in our industry, that’s a big hit.

While we wait for business confidence to return and for agency revenue to start building again, what can you do if you have found yourself one of the COVID-19 ‘casualties’?

  1. GO CLIENT-SIDE. Yikes! Did I say that? The last thing we want to see is more amazing agency people leaving our industry. However, right now, feeding your family and paying your rent needs to take precedence over where you work. Thanks to the domino effect that we experienced coming into COVID-19, where we saw clients fall first, then agencies; so we will see the same domino effect in the recovery phase – clients first, then agencies. Your easiest and quickest road to employment is (unfortunately for AgencyLand) likely to be on the ‘other side’.
  2. BECOME YOUR OWN BOSS. Now is the perfect time to start something new. A new agency perhaps? A new consultancy? Given your current status, you have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain. Better yet, why not join with other ‘recently unemployed’, incredible, talented, experienced industry professionals and make a new something? Starting a business is easier than you might think (keeping it going is another challenge altogether!).
  3. UP-SKILL or RETRAIN. Do you have the means of supporting yourself and your family for a few months? Why not use this gift of time to either up-skill in an area of high demand (such as digital marketing) or retrain in a complementary field (such as marketing). Maybe this is the perfect opportunity to follow your long-forgotten dream and try something completely different (cake decorating, anyone?)!

If you are one of the lucky agency folk who is still employed, please stay where you are (even if you have taken a hit to your salary). Now is not the time to hand in your resignation without securing a water-tight alternative. Remember that the current job market is (and will be for the foreseeable future) oversubscribed with top-shelf competition, all vying for a tiny number of roles. Hang onto the job you have with all your might – at least for the next few months.

Thinking of you all. Stay strong.



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