Everything indicates that the perfect storm is coming. And I do not mean a storm in the meteorological sense but on an economic and social level. Spain, after the huge crisis unleashed by Covid-19, has recently entered a recession. The drop in Gross Domestic Product (GDP – that is, everything that Spanish companies and professionals produce) was -18.5% in the second quarter of 2020 and represents a year-on-year decrease of -22.1%. Historical data, extraordinary and infinitely worse than in any previous crisis. In this way, the Spanish economy has entered a recession by linking 2 consecutive quarters with falls in GDP. At the international level, the situation is also frankly negative. The Eurozone has fallen by -12.1% and the rest of the developed countries are also experiencing a crisis of historical magnitude and unimaginable a few months ago.
And these macroeconomic data carry and will carry great problems in the labor market. The number of jobs in Spain has been reduced by more than one million in the second quarter of the year and the number of unemployed has skyrocketed to almost 4 million. Furthermore, prospects cannot be worse. According to most experts, unemployment will continue to grow, especially once the “ERTEs” that have slowed down the enormous impact of the crisis on the labor market are over. Spain leads (negatively) the vast majority of rankings in terms of job destruction, job insecurity … although the rest of the world is also experiencing a frankly difficult time for the economy in general and for the labor market in particular.
And on an individual level, as a professional, what can you do to deal with this perfect storm? I can come up with some ideas:
- Activity Sectors: the crisis is affecting the activity sectors very differently. While there are some sectors terribly affected by the crisis (hospitality, tourism …) other sectors may present good opportunities (technology, electronic commerce, health …). Think well in which sector you are, how the crisis is affecting you, and above all think in which sector you can focus your professional efforts.
- Geographical areas: the situation is also very different depending on the geographical area. There are countries that, due to management or the characteristics of their economy, are having a lesser impact of the crisis on their economic situation. And I don’t mean that you pack your bags (well, this would also be an option) to emigrate to an area less affected by the crisis. Instead, think about how to sell your products or services to areas with better economic situation. Bet on exports or even take advantage of remote working to provide services to anywhere in the world (now with the technological revolution it is easier than ever).
- Digital transformation: I also think that it is time for you to bet on your digital transformation. Yes, I know that you had already started the “digitalization” a long time ago … but I suggest you give it one more spin. Think about how you can seize the moment to digitize the way you work. Today, digitizing the way you work is no longer an option, it is absolutely essential.
- Productivity: in a time of extraordinary difficulty, you must be more productive than ever. Stop wasting time on nonsense, analyze well how technology can help you improve your productivity. Focus on the tasks where you are most productive and stop doing (or delegate or outsource) the tasks where you get less productivity. Review your portfolio of products and services well (surely the Pareto Law is fulfilled since possibly a small minority of products and services bring you the most income). The same thing happens with your clients, apply the Pareto Law, and focus your efforts on those clients (or projects or tasks) that are really worth it.
- Take care of your expenses: it is very possible that even if you are more productive than before the crisis, even if you transform yourself digitally … your income is lower than a few months ago. It is a good time to watch your expenses. Surely you have reduced many of them (travel, transport, restaurants, offices …) but I am also sure that you can cut your expenses even more. Check well what you spend the money on, what alternatives can improve your situation … In a time of serious crisis, you can take advantage of it to substantially reduce your expenses. In fact, I have some friends and clients that they or their companies are earning more money than before the crisis despite having reduced their income … especially thanks to having controlled their expenses very well.
The storm is being and is going to be really brutal. But you must be patient. After the storm, always, always, always the sun comes out again. All forecasts indicate an inverted V-shaped recovery (that is, the recovery will always be slower than the drop that has occurred). All point to an interesting recovery in a few months or a few years. No one can predict the magnitude of the storm or when the sun will rise again. But I am totally convinced that the situation will recover. Adapt to the crisis situation in the best possible way and working your personal brand (I have given you some ideas about this). And also prepare for recovery. Take care that, when the sun rises again you are well prepared. That you have done your homework in your digital transformation, that you are much more productive than before, that you have your strategy well defined, that you have been properly trained … and that your personal brand is fully ready to achieve your goals in the new job market. I don’t know what this “new normal” will be like, but what I do suspect is that it will be very different from the situation before the crisis.
And remember whatCharles Darwin said: “The species that survive are not the strongest, nor the fastest, nor the most intelligent; but rather those that adapt better to change ”.