Guiding Clients through Canada’s Precarious Labour Market
By Skye Berry Burke.
Precarious workers are no longer just minimum wage employees with irregular hours. They can be high-tech workers hired for freelance projects, accountants who seek contract after contract, service-sector employees who are no longer guaranteed hours, and teachers who are struggling to get a foothold in school boards. They are sometimes highly educated people who just can’t seem to find secure work. They do not have benefits, vacation pay, or the prospect of a pension.
Precarious workers are becoming the norm in Canada. According to this Toronto Star article, “precarious work, often associated with service-sector jobs, is spreading to jobs that were once considered realms of stable employment with benefits and pensions.” The article further states that “more than one quarter of precarious jobs require a university degree.”
Globally, the numbers aren’t much better. According to CBC News, it was reported in 2015 that barely one in four of the globe’s workforce have stable work contracts of any kind. The CIBC work quality index reported in 2015 that “the quality of Canadian employment is currently at a 25-year low, 10% below what it was in the 1990s.”
Although viewed as a passing crisis, it is remarkably looking like the new norm with no end in sight. Many job seekers are feeling the added stress of finding secure work and they are turning to Career Professionals for guidance and assistance.
So How Can We Help?
As Career Professionals, how can we best help guide our clients through this difficult labour market? At one time, when clients found themselves in an unexpected job search, they would naturally be anxious and scared. As coaches and consultants we were able to calm their fears and guide them through an effective job search that would usually garner faster results.
This is becoming an increasingly more challenging task to accomplish due to the current labour market. It isn’t quite as easy to find stable employment anymore. Although there is still tremendous value in personal networking to find jobs in the hidden job market, even that approach is proving more difficult.
It isn’t impossible, though. Just as we coach our clients to be adaptable, as Career Professionals, we must adapt to the new labour market and economy. Our approach to the job search process must also accommodate the precarious labour market.
Recognize the Added Stress of Being a Precarious Worker
We have to understand that our clients are now coming to us with more than the general (and anticipated) job search anxiety. They are more anxious and fearful than ever before at the prospects available for full-time, stable employment.
It is our job to understand that with this new trend in the labour market, many people are delaying life’s milestones, such as marriage, home ownership, or even starting a family. Not knowing when or how they will get the next paycheque, or be able to afford retirement, leads to more stress in an employee’s life than we as Career Professionals have ever seen before. Ensure that your clients understand that you sympathize with their situation and that you are aware that the economy is challenging. Don’t sugar-coat the situation, and don’t make promises for finding secure work when you can’t reliably keep them.
Teach Sales Techniques to Job-Seekers
Whether a job-seeker can find full-time, stable employment or has no choice but to enter the world of precarious work, it is important that we teach our clients the value of selling themselves.
They will either have to sell themselves for their next job or their next contract. Either way, sales will become a part of their everyday life. As Career Professionals, we have to teach our clients how to conduct their own relevant target audience research.
We must help job-seekers understand their Unique Value Proposition in a way that we never had to before. They need to have a deep understanding of what they bring to the table that is unique from other job-seekers. They have to be able to sell this uniqueness for their own livelihood.
Ultimately, it is our job to ensure that clients can effectively “Shark Tank” their way through the labour market. They have to know the product they are trying to sell and view the employer as their investor.
Teach your clients how to communicate three things:
- The needs that they will fulfill. Can they explain why they would be a great fit for the job and back this claim up with success stories?
- What makes them unique from every other candidate? Can your client clearly articulate what makes them unique and what value they have to offer?
- Why they are a safe bet to invest in. Can your client truly explain their weaknesses and strengths? Are they able to answer the question “Why should I hire you?”
Guiding clients through Canada’s precarious labour market is not an easy task. But with the right mindset and the proper approach, we can help ease job-seekers’ anxiety and walk them through strategies that can assist them.
As Career Professionals, we can discuss the pros and cons of the precarious labour market. We should be honest with job-seekers, telling them that this is looking like the new norm. We can also teach clients how to effectively sell their skills so that they have an easier time securing their next contract.
Until the economy does rebound, there is no escaping the world of precarious work. As professionals, we have to adjust our strategies in equal measure with the job-seeker. We have to ensure that our clients apply effective marketing techniques to their online profiles and career documents so that they can market themselves toward their next pay-cheque.