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The pandemic is an opportunity to rethink, rework, and retrench

rethinkNote: This is from last spring, during the early days of the pandemic. Since the virus is still with us – and will affect a good part of 2021 – the Doctor thought it would be worth a re-read. Enjoy!

It’s been said before that you should never let a good crisis go to waste. What exactly does that mean? It means that with every problem comes opportunity. We are in the midst of a global crisis, and yet for many of us, there’s not much we can do but stay home. Disaster breeds the desire to do something, yet our governments are asking us to keep our distance, stay inside, and wait. Smart advice, and yet…

Luckily, the job board industry is in many ways the definition of ‘inside work’ – given a computer, an internet connection, and a phone, most of you can launch and run a job board.

But there’s one catch: most job boards are driven by employers’ demand for job seekers – and the current crisis put a stake in the heart of hiring. Some of you have had to lay off or furlough staff. Some of you are applying for loans. And some of you are still in shock.

Well, you know what? It’s a good time to put this crisis to a better use: preparing for the future. At some point, COVID-19 will fade – and our lives will return to something resembling normalcy. Yet I believe the ‘new normal’ will be different from a few weeks ago. Let’s use the crisis to prepare for it.

There are three parts to getting ready for the new normal: rethink, rework and retrench:

  • Rethink: The economy is in an induced coma right now. This isn’t like anything we’ve ever experienced – the shutdown is voluntary and is guided by the virus’s timeline, not ours. But even in this hiring coma, hiring in fact is still going on. Many businesses can function with a remote staff, if perhaps more slowly. Others – think of the so-called essential industries – are functioning with protective equipment and distancing. Still others are in the midst of rethinking their business model – can they function in new ways? As a job board, this is a chance to think about both your business model AND your audience and services. You need a ‘during’ and ‘after’ plan: what you can do now to retain (or expand) your employers, and what you will do after the virus fades. As a thought exercise, take a look at how Tesla is repurposing its auto parts to build ventilators. What about your services? Which can be repurposed for this new reality?
  • Rework: Once you’ve analyzed and rethought, you need to make some decisions on what needs to change. Reworking your business isn’t easy, and the results aren’t guaranteed. But if you’ve done your rethinking carefully, you can control the risk. Many job seekers and employers are going to come out of the other side of this crisis in a daze. You need to be ready to help them connect the dots – more than ever, showing people how to get from unemployed to employed is going to be a valuable and critical skill.
  • Retrench: Although I don’t particularly think the ‘this is a war’ approach is a good analogy, it is true that – like some wars – this crisis will drag on. It will require for both creative thinking and resilience. And it will reward businesses that think defensively, as well as those who are will to rethink what they do and how they do it. Many wars seem to work on autopilot. You can’t afford that.

So don’t let this crisis go to waste. It’s going to keep you up at night anyway – so demand that it give you something in return!

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