Beyond Brexit: How to Survive in a Tougher Job Market

What will happen if Britain leaves the EU? How will a Brexit affect your job search? And what can be done about it? This survival guide has the answers.

The results of the EU referendum are nearly upon us, after what has seemed like an eternity of debate, propaganda, and more spin than a Shane Warne leg-break. Of course, it is almost impossible to determine the likely outcome at present, with polls reportedly neck and neck and currently undecided voters likely to have the decisive input.

While we wait to see how the nation will vote, however, we thought it would be interesting to imagine a scenario where Britain's earnest citizens voted to leave the EU. More specifically, we wanted to explore the nation's job market in a post-Brexit world, especially with a number of prominent economists warning that job creation would fall and unemployment would rise in the aftermath of the UK terminating its EU membership.

The Brexit Survival Kit: How to Prepare for, and Survive in, a Tough job Market

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Given the insight offered by economists and experts such as European Law professor Catherine Barnard, it would seem that this is an accurate forecast rather than a textbook example of a Brexit spin. This would certainly create a challenge for those in search of work, both in the near-term and as the UK looked to shape its own economic and social destiny.

To help with this, we have prepared a Brexit survival kit, one which will, hopefully, help you survive a potentially tougher and less open labour market.

Don't Panic: Brexit Is a Slow and Potentially Mind-Numbing Process

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For those in any doubt, leaving the EU is not a particularly fast or dramatic process. Instead, a country that wishes to leave has a maximum of two years to negotiate their exit, starting from the moment they confirm their intentions (the result of the current referendum does not represent formal notification, in case you were wondering). Given this and David Cameron's preference for remaining in the EU, it will probably not be until an unspecified date in 2018 that the UK finally exits the EU.

While it is best to avoid the potential impact of additional legal wrangling and, heaven forbid, a further referendum, there is no doubt that Brexit would be a long and drawn-out process. This means that job seekers need not immediately panic, as while the labour market may be impacted by uncertainty as the terms of the UK's exit are negotiated, there would be a substantial period of time for you to consider your options, acquire any necessary accreditations, and execute your chosen career move.

A clear and focused mind is crucial to achieving these goals, and may make the difference in what would most likely be a chaotic, post-Brexit fallout.

Be Frugal: Strive to Build Wealth and Create a Brexit Safety Net

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In numerical terms, our aforementioned expert Catherine Barnard estimates that around 550,000 jobs could be lost by the year 2020 (post-Brexit, of course). This will make life even harder for job seekers, who must subsequently compete within a larger pool of talent for a potentially smaller number of jobs. So, whether you want to get a job, change careers, or you are facing up to the long-term prospect of unemployment, it makes fiscal sense to manage your finances carefully in the future.

Frugality will be the watchword here, as it is your ability to reduce everyday expenditure and commit more of your disposable income to savings that will have the biggest impact on your finances. After all, it will be difficult to build additional streams of passive income, particularly with share prices falling throughout the Eurozone and brokers ETX Capital reporting that the prospect of Brexit has triggered a 'violent' decline in sentiment towards the British pound.

With markets across the globe set to be impacted by Brexit, those with limited experience or minimal funds would be advised to choose flight over fight and focus more risk-averse options.

So, now would be the ideal time to begin budgeting your existing finances and carefully appraising your outgoings. Focus on reducing the cost of recurring expenses like groceries and utilities, while also identifying the savings accounts with the highest interest rates. These small measures can go a long way in a tough job market, and even freeing up as little as 10% of your disposable income can make a huge difference to your savings pot.

Refine Your Job Search: As One Door Closes, Another One Opens

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It can be hard deciphering fact from fiction in the buildup to the EU referendum, particularly with blustering characters such as Boris Johnson making their voices heard. While some argue vehemently that Brexit would send interest rates soaring and challenge a nation that has become accustomed to low base rates, for example, others claim that this would be offset by improved trading terms and cheaper goods.

While many points can be argued at length, however, there are some facts that are indisputable. The fact that Brexit would be kinder to some industries and sectors than others offers a relevant case in point, despite the fact that the initial fallout would be felt universally and throughout the UK. It is thought that Brexit would have the biggest impact on the financial services sector, which has a surplus with the EU to the tune of £19.9 billion and would suffer from limited, cross-border access laws applicable to all non-European Union nations.

In contrast, product and goods-orientated firms could potentially benefit from Brexit thanks to demand for exports and a hefty trade deficit of £13.9 billion with the EU.

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From a jobseeker's perspective, this means that careers in manufacturing sectors, logistics and the automotive trade could well be more accessible in the wake of Brexit. Conversely, those targeting banking and the financial service sectors would find jobs harder to come by, so this may demand a willingness to pursue further training and develop new industry skills. You should also look to identify transferable skills that will help you transition between sectors, while also identifying in-house roles that have a strong financial focus (such as an accountant for a private car dealership, for example).

These steps will help to prepare you for a post-Brexit job market but the key thing to maintain is a calm and level head. After all, Brexit is a complex and drawn-out affair, while the spin applied by opposing campaigns has served to exaggerate the consequences of leaving and remaining in the EU. In truth, there are pros and cons to both options, so whatever happens, you must be able to cope with change and capitalise on new opportunities.

Do you have anything you’d like to add? Tell us in the comments section below!

Financial Times