Career Disruption from the Coronavirus?
The career disruption for the coronavirus could be short term career disruption OR it could permanently change your career for the worse or the better.
This is not about the stock market or your retirement accounts. The stock market goes up and then down and then up again.
Some of the career disruption schemes seem pretty ridiculous. For example, sales of Corona Beer are off because of the name of the beer. If this lasts very long and you work in Corona brewing or distribution, then you may want to be looking elsewhere.
This is a good time to take stock of your job, career, and industry. You should do this every year regardless, but especially when you are working on your career development plan, you should conduct an annual self-audit.
Many are speculating that this may be a black swan event.
What is a Black Swan Event?
The best definition I could find comes from Wikipedia:
The black swan theory or theory of black swan events is a metaphor that describes an event that comes as a surprise, has a major effect, and is often inappropriately rationalized after the fact with the benefit of hindsight. The term is based on an ancient saying that presumed black swans did not exist – a saying that became reinterpreted to teach a different lesson after black swans were discovered in the wild.
The theory was developed by Nassim Nicholas Taleb to explain:
- The disproportionate role of high-profile, hard-to-predict, and rare events that are beyond the realm of normal expectations in history, science, finance, and technology.
- The non-computability of the probability of the consequential rare events using scientific methods (owing to the very nature of small probabilities).
- The psychological biases that blind people, both individually and collectively, to uncertainty and to a rare event’s massive role in historical affairs.
The most recent black swan event was 9/11 when two airplanes were crashed into the two towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. All of us remember the career disruption from that event and most of us were unprepared.
This may or may not be a black swan event but it will definitely have short term effects.
Both employers and employees are showing some angst. Read the following GlassDoor post Coronavirus Outbreak: How Employers & Employees Are Responding.
Short Term – Dependency on the People’s Republic of China for Components
Any manufacturer who is dependent on components from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) will see a slowdown in their supply chain. I have heard from a number of people that shipments have been delayed from the PRC and they are not sure when this will be resolved. They cannot complete products without these components.
Any company using Just In Time (JIT) scheduling/delivery for subassemblies or components from the PRC or South Korea are either experiencing issues or will soon.
Effect on hiring? I would expect these companies to put hiring on hold. This could hit a variety of industries from electronics to automotive.
What should you do? If you are looking at a position with one of these companies, monitor it closely. Work to understand the issues and more importantly how might you be able to help.
Career disruption will happen but the extent of the disruption will be determined by how long delays continue.
Short Term – Hospitality and Entertainment
We are already seeing incredible slowdowns in hospitality.
This last week we saw cancellations of some pretty huge conferences. These include:
- Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. With 140,000 attendees this is one of the largest conferences in the world.
- Facebook F8 in San Jose, California.
These are just a couple of cancellations that have had a huge effect on the hospitality industry.
The entertainment industry is already feeling effects. Check out this Vox article How the coronavirus outbreak is roiling the film and entertainment industries. This includes the delay of film releases as well as the closing of Disney Theme Parks in Japan, Hong Kong, and the PRC.
Several technology companies may benefit from this as companies look at holding virtual conferences. Netflix and its competitors are sure to benefit.
Effect on hiring? I would expect if this continues past the Q1 2020, there will be layoffs. Short term, there will be a delay in hiring.
What should you do? Does your employer have relationships with any of the big players in hospitality or entertainment? Map out these dependencies to see how vulnerable you may be in the long term.
Short Term – Higher Education
I am already seeing higher education preparing for a career disruption. Universities are especially susceptible to infectious diseases. There have been signs that instructors will be allowed to teach remotely. Some are preparing to supply computers and other equipment for their employees to be able to teach remotely.
What should you do? Discuss the option of remote employment with your employer or future employer. A career disruption may be mitigated by allowing employees to work remotely.
Short Term – Airlines
Like the hospitality industry, airlines are being directly affected. Airlines have already started to waive fees for travel changes. I have already talked to people who are delaying or canceling plans for flights in May or June. One of those was a Career Pivot Community member who was planning to go to Italy to work on a book. Would you book a flight to Italy right now?
You do not have to work directly for an airline to be affected. Check out the NPR article Airport Workers Fear They’re Unprotected From The Coronavirus and listen to the audio report.
Do you work at the airport in maintenance, immigration, security, or any other job where you are in contact with passengers or their bodily fluids? Have you been trained?
What should you do? If you belong to a union, contact your union representative to see understand your rights.
Short Term – Healthcare
If you have not read the GlassDoor post Coronavirus Outbreak: How Employers & Employees Are Responding I would recommend you do this now. Healthcare treatment and implementation is a local issue. There will be thousands of healthcare positions that open up across the country to combat the coronavirus, at least for the short term. Short term positions can turn into long term jobs.
What should you do? Start now investigating who will be hiring in your region.
I am not going to speculate what the long term effects will be just yet. However, this is not the last time we will see this type of incident. I listened to a podcast last year (that I have not been able to locate) that discussed the proliferation of superbugs. This has largely been caused by the overuse of antibiotics in both livestock and humans. This will not be the last time your industry, career or job will be threatened by viral outbreaks.
This not just about preparing for your personal protection, but also about protecting your career through these incidents.
In a future post, I will discuss what I am suggesting my clients do to protect themselves from these kinds of events.
Will you be prepared for the next black swan event?Marc Miller
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