How to stay ahead in your career amid the ravages of coronavirus
By Christopher Karani | July 21st 2020
The coronavirus pandemic has shown us the need to adapt. This is not different from our careers, which for some, have been severely affected.
Businesses across a range of sectors are facing catastrophic losses, leaving thousands of workers vulnerable to layoffs, while others have already lost their jobs.
And while those with experience are looking for opportunities to get back into employment, it is not easy.
It is critical that we adjust and take extra steps, just as the organisations are doing, to the changing job markets and unprecedented work environments.
We don’t know what the future holds, but we do know that we live in changing, turbulent times bent towards technology.
This means that your job description could be very different – or even irrelevant – in the years to come.
So how do we keep our skill sets and experience from falling behind the times? Here are suggestions.
Adopt an approach of life-long learning and self-development.
Learning keeps us relevant and prepared for the unexpected. It is critical that we reskill in technical skills and more importantly in acquiring core competencies such as adaptability, communication, collaboration and creativity. This involves determining what it is you want to learn and the specific goals you want to achieve.
For those who have recently graduated, researching and taking time to speak to experienced mentors in your area will help you narrow down the focus area and then using the multitude of resources available to gain the knowledge. Aim to develop marketable skills in an area that you are passionate about.
Do you throw your hands up in defeat and find yourself saying: “technology is not my thing” several times a day? Push yourself to keep your technical skills up to date.
To navigate the multitude of technological developments, take time and identify how technology ties into your specific career area and build your capability in that. Be proactive and stay updated with technological changes.
Never stop networking
The worst time to start building a network is when you desperately need one. Professional relationships are typically stronger when they’re built on mutual interest and trust rather than urgent need.
Taking a break from networking not only weakens your existing relationships, but you can also begin to lose networking skills. Give your relationships a foundation during the low-pressure periods of career stability.
Focus outside your geographical location as well. Businesses operate more globally and are more culturally diverse than ever before.
Chances are that your co-workers, clients and stakeholders now have a global reach. The more experience you can get of working with them, the more confident you’ll be and the more access to opportunities you will have.
Work on your soft skills
As technology automates the most robotic and repetitive tasks, those quintessentially human traits are our greatest assets. Some of the critical future skills include problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity, people management, collaboration, emotional intelligence, judgement and service orientation. Take time to build and practice these skills.
For instance, networking often requires strong interpersonal skills. Our warmth, our charisma, how much energy we give to people will often determine our network circles.
Curate your brand
Knowingly or unknowingly, your daily activities contribute to your brand. We are in a very crowded and competitive world, and we will at some point in our careers need to stand out to move forward. All the people we talk about today as having had an impact on the world were known for something. What do you want to be remembered for?
Also, consider your digital footprint. If your google search still reveals some not so favourable things from your college days, you might want to consider setting up your portfolio to showcase content that shows off your passions or expertise in your profession.
Lastly, keep a clear and open mind to opportunities and find a mentor that will help you understand and navigate the varied landscapes and hold up a mirror as you develop the necessary skills to keep yourself future-ready.
-The writer is the Managing Director Workforce Africa
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