The current lockdown restrictions brought on by the onset of a global pandemic are having all sorts of effects on those who might be used to the cut and thrust of a fast-moving industry like print and packaging. So how best to deal with seeking career progression or personal development at a time like this? Mandy Watson, managing director of recruitment specialists, Ambitions Personnel discusses how.
We’ve entered what many are terming unprecedented times. That’s a fact that we can’t escape right now. In printing and packaging, short deadlines, demanding clients and a pressure to be creative is never-ending, so what do you do when that all vanishes as suddenly as we’ve seen?
First and foremost, many will be concerned with the day-to-day, survival and taking a look at business costs and continuation. For those who don’t own a business however, this could well be the time that you seek out alternative options when it comes to your career.
As printing and packaging is an ever-changing industry, it’s often said that you never stop learning. In the case of technology and software, this couldn’t be more true. There are established software packages used as standard in the industry, but even these develop and are evolving constantly. Therefore, individuals who have found themselves furloughed or have reduced working hours could certainly benefit by using their time productively, particularly if they are reflecting on their career direction. After all, when do you have this much time on your hands in your normal working life?
Many training organisations are able to offer furloughed workers the opportunity to expand their skill set without affecting the terms of their furlough, so thorough research can be done to see what weak points you can improve on. Many agencies, software providers and other professionals within the industry are also offering free of charge tutorials. If you’ve meant to seek out the means to produce certain products, designs or add to your portfolio of skills, then this may well be the time.
Candidates working in graphics-heavy roles may choose to upskill on the latest version of a piece of creative software. After all, while you may have the basics from an earlier version embedded in your working day, being conversant with the most recent additions could certainly stand you in front of your competition when it comes to interviews. Adobe, for example, includes tutorials as standard for even advanced techniques. Even if you aren’t looking to move on, this could well make a lot of your work more aesthetically pleasing and is simply a time investment.
Ambitious individuals working within a semi-skilled production role either on a press or within a print finishing department could also set themselves a defined career plan in management by embarking on more career-leaning leadership skills short courses. These are obviously all positive steps when selling yourself to a potential employer or indeed putting yourself in line for promotion with your current company for when things get back to normal.
As well as opportunities for self-development, the other benefit of this break in normality is the free time to develop a more focused and engaging CV and portfolio. In these cases, it is often advisable to create one that can be used as a core document to be adapted when required.
This is a much more common mistake that we see within printing and packaging recruitment than you’d imagine. Not giving it enough thought or time to develop it into something truly unique and special can leave your application looking disjointed and somewhat unprofessional. In an industry where so much depends on image, it’s often a real surprise to see candidates not embellishing their representative documents with the flair and creativity that they are hoping to convey with their professional work.
Our advice is always the same, start from scratch and write a document an employer really wants to read. Pay attention to where you want to be in your career and get the essential information across early on. Keep it short, to the point and while it’s important to show a little of your creativity, don’t make it a fully-fledged piece of conceptual art. Simply make it look subtle, simple and impactful and ensure you include links to a web portfolio to showcase your talents.
This downtime is a golden opportunity for many. If you’ve been considering the ways in which you can develop or even a jump to a more suitable role, then time is (for once) on your side.
Take a few moments to consider what it is you are aiming at and prepare, execute and progress. It’s not as hard as it first seems.