Anyone who thought that the crisis of 2008-09 was the worst thing to have happened to us must be thanking their stars for that event. That development seems to pale in comparison with what we are seeing through most of 2020, with many parts of the world’s job market taking the brunt of COVID-19.
Having said this, let us not despair, because no matter how bad the situation may seem, it is not the worst we have seen, nor is this likely to be the last. Crises of one or another form is but natural for us humans. So, rather than become despondent, let us explore ways by which to overcome, or at least, initially, neutralize, the effects of this pandemic and look at ways by which to advance our careers in the immediate months and after.
The basis to taking decisions about one’s career in a situation like this is to first realize that we are currently living in fluid and uncertain times. We are not sure how long the job market is going to be sluggish. Notwithstanding the many conspiracy theories concerning coronavirus, no one-at least to the best of my knowledge-was able to predict some years or months back that such a pandemic would explode on the world and cause so much disturbance.
Similarly, don’t rely on market forecasts about the future. We don’t know whether it is going to be dull or bright. So, let us depend on our own common sense and make decisions that are in line with our own strengths, capabilities, and shortfalls.
In this blog, I will describe five steps that you can take to overcome a crisis at your job, whether a real one or a potential one. You can expect these steps to open up the prosects for your career even in these times. These are the five steps I suggest are going to uplift your career in 2021 and beyond:
- Keep learning
- Improve your soft skills
- Augment your emotional intelligence
- Learn to deal with change
- Sharpen your social media familiarity.
Learning has always been a tangible differentiator for any group throughout human history. Its value gains greater credence in times like this. Look beyond the usual degrees and accreditations. I am not saying these are useless; it is just that employers look for more. The silver lining on the job market front is that this is also the best time for learning, what with Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) being the norm today.
Choose a learning platform that offers courses that are relevant to your skills and education, is valued in the market, and is inexpensive. These platforms are the ideal means to augment your profile in today’s scenario. The reasons are simple to understand:
- You don’t have to spend a fortune on gaining learning that will hugely burnish your image as someone who put time to great use;
- You don’t have to move out to the classroom to learn, something that is of inestimable value in today’s pandemic times;
- They are flexible in the sense that you can take them up and complete them at your convenience. With millions of people around the world saving on the cost and time associated with transport to work, there is no better way and time to invest that saving on online education.
So, now, let us move on to what exactly you should learn to help your profile get noticed from a heap of CV’s:
Improve your soft skills:
One thing that any job aspirant and an experienced pro alike should understand is that where the job market is tough, employers look for ways by which to save money. They look for more in a candidate, so that they can pay less.
Think of employers as people with the same attitude as a thrifty buyer. When you want to buy on a tight budget, the most natural thing you would do is to look for more for less. This math too, works the same way.
The more skills you have in your portfolio, the greater your chances of getting selected. The reason is not difficult to seek: you are going to be carrying out multiple roles at the cost of a single profile.
So, the more skills you bring to the table, the higher your chances of making it. This is what employers look for. Why should they go to more candidates when they can find all the skills that they need, in only one? The most sought-after skill today is soft skills. The reason is clear as day: soft skills are the ideal complement to the core skills a candidate may possess. Soft skills complete the person’s profile.
Augment your emotional intelligence:
This is as essential a skill as any other critical one. Emotional intelligence differs from the traditional marker of intellect, intelligence quotient (IQ) in a number of ways. An emotionally intelligent person is smarter, more flexible, adept in dealing with people and situations, and is always willing to help others. These are the exact qualities that an organization looks for in a candidate. Taking up courses in emotional intelligence can help you understand a lot of this quality.
Learn to deal with change:
Does it need iteration that this is a core skill in today’s situation? Even in the best of times, the real difference between individuals and organizations that survive and grow, and those that don’t, is the ability to foresee and adapt to change. We have heard the age-old adage of change being the only constant. In tough situations, its value becomes more pronounced. Change management is all about being able to anticipate change and deal with it. Want to try valuable courses on change management?
Sharpen your social media familiarity:
Let us face it. The social media are everywhere, to the extent that our personal and business lives are, well, not really unthinkable, but at least, slow, without them. When this is the elephant in the room, it makes enormous sense to learn to leverage the social media for your benefit.
Knowing how to use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Quora, or just any other such social media platforms will help you with a whole gamut of activities ranging from knowing how to market your brand to connecting with friends to finding the right job opening in an organization you may not even have heard about earlier.
In closing, a point I would like to make in conclusion is that we are going through difficult times, but this is not the end of the road. People with resilience and fortitude take these as opportunities, not as crises. I hope the suggestions and skills I have offered here, when implemented, will help you overcome the roadblocks you could be facing in your career and clear them. Here is wishing you the best for the year ahead!