• Cheyene Marling

The Future Outlook for the Business Continuity Employment Market

Just about every conversation since COVID-19 spread across the globe has included this one question - “What does the employment market look like for the Business Continuity/ Crisis Management profession?” To be frank, we really did not have a great answer at first. Now that we have all been weathering this crisis for about 6 months’, there have been numerous conversations with our clients and data trends assessed to help forecast this very question.

So, what have our clients been saying? Initially there was radio silence while everyone was adjusting in a matter of days. Contracts were being cancelled or stalled and panic was hitting everyone. After a few weeks/ months in responding, though, our clients began to document gaps in their pandemic/ crisis management plans. Additionally, while consumed with the COVID-19 response, they also found themselves falling behind in their recurring BC/DR planning activities. The client discussions started to focus on looking ahead. How are we going to keep up to meet our program goals? How will the discovered gaps be resolved? How can we possibly accomplish so much with the current headcount? The response we heard from the majority is that we need help! We need temporary help immediately. We need to hire additional headcount to meet our program goals under the increased executive visibility.

What about the data trends? BC Management has been tracking Business Continuity employment trends for over a decade and the employment market was at an all-time high before COVID-19 shut down the world. Let’s get into the numbers… Throughout 2019 we were surveying an average of 22 new weekly job posts for the USA and 31 internationally. This count only includes business continuity/ resiliency/ crisis management related positions in the private sector (our area of focus). Job postings dropped for just a few weeks in March while COVID-19 hit most of the globe (18 and 28, respectively). What we didn’t expect, though, was such a quick spike in job activity. Since the third week of March there has been a noticeable surge in new weekly job advertisements (33 and 46) and we have noticed more contract jobs. Some weeks we tracked over 50 new weekly job postings internationally and the third week in June hit 75! Additionally, we analyze the level of the job opportunity posted as senior management, mid management, or planner. New senior leadership job postings increased by 57% after COVID-19 hit. Mid management job postings increased by 46% while planner level positions increased by 32%. This indicates that companies are seeking professionals to champion their program more than ever before!

In addition to tracking the employment market, BC Management also conducted a study, “What’s Your Role During the COVID-19 Response” between April to May 2020. This study backed up our client discussions in that 35% of the participants partially suspended their recurring BC/DR planning activities while focusing on the pandemic response and 14% completely suspended all recurring BC/DR planning efforts. Furthermore, 21% admitted to having no pandemic plans in place and 2% were unsure. While 77% did have pandemic plans, a majority admitted to the plans being very out of date and, in some cases, the executives were not even aware they existed.

What is our forecast? How we wish for a crystal ball…. There are so many factors to consider when assessing the future. We hear and digest the conversations from our clients. We track and analyze the data trends. We are also the first ones to be contacted when someone losses their job. During the Great Recession we were consumed with incoming calls from professionals who were recently let go and we were not engaged on a job for months. Many professionals are being furloughed/ downsized because of COVID-19, but it seems that the Business Continuity profession is surviving (and in some cases) persevering so much better than other professions and definitely so much better when comparing to the Great Recession. The industries being impacted more than others include travel, leisure, and retail while the industries expanding include financial, healthcare, and pharmaceutical.

Our forecast is that the Business Continuity employment market will continue to thrive for the coming 12 – 18 months, but it may appear different from what we are accustomed to. There is still the looming financial uncertainty. Companies are watching the bottom line and they are being very conservative with expenditures. And for the USA, there is also the double whammy of an election year, which may stall additional permanent headcount. Although there will still be an abundance of permanent career opportunities, we suspect the true surge in hiring will likely be more focused in employing contract/ temporary staff or consulting services. There are a few reasons behind this assessment. Those companies who need immediate help do not want to wait for the approval process for a permanent hire. Also, most of the work for many companies can be viewed as project work with very specific/ defined deliverables. For those organizations who need help in defining or rebuilding their programs it will likely make sense to engage a consulting firm, especially if there is a company hiring freeze.

What’s next? Many organizations are open to remote staff (both contract and permanent), which increases the candidate pool nationally. To be successful in the foreseeable job market professionals seeking new opportunities will need to clearly highlight their credentials (leadership, strategic and tactical expertise) to stay competitive. Candidates must also utilize their network more than ever before and stay positive through the process.

If you are actively seeking a new position, BC Management is here to help navigate through these unprecedented times. Be sure to sign up for our BCM Career Alert notifications at https://www.bcmanagement.com/business-continuity-jobs to ensure you receive timely new career notifications matching your search preferences. There is also this helpful article from LinkedIn if you want to boost your social media presence while job searching - https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin/answer/67405/let-recruiters-know-you-re-open-to-work?lang=en. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions you might have. You may also arrange a complimentary discussion today at info@bcmanagement.com.

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