The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in our lives has been devastating. No matter where you are, higher unemployment will go hand in hand with an increase in government debt. This will limit government relief for those out of work. Companies will need to reduce fixed costs. This in turn will “force” out-of-work people to accept lower starting salaries. This new reality will require you to find ways to improve your employability prospects.
That’s the bad news; the good news is that there is hope…and help.
Identifying and developing the right transferable skills for this new reality will be key.
Even before COVID-19, CEOs were concerned about finding and developing the employees they needed just to stay competitive. This will only increase as we are going through an economic downturn. What happens to you if your company decides to reduce its workforce by 20%? Will they value you enough to keep you or let you go?
This new reality will affect four specific groups of people at different stages in their careers. Understanding it will help you identify ways to adjust to the changing environment.
The first group is recent graduates with job prospects now in doubt because of the recession and lower starting salaries. The second group is midcareer workers who face the pressure of potential job loss as the economy struggles. The third group is people close to retirement but without enough savings or sufficient pensions so they must continue working. The fourth group is workers always struggling to get by and are now facing even tougher problems with basic expenses.
However, there is hope for all four groups: they can do it by upskilling. (Definition of upskilling: to learn more advanced skills through additional education and training).
Success happens when preparation meets opportunity
We used to think of our careers as a straight line with steps up a ladder. If you are to remain vital to today’s economy, this mindset has to change. You must evaluate how the skills you acquired in one industry can be applied to another.
In the future, careers will consist of lateral moves from industry to industry by combining specific operational expertise with problem-solving. CEOs are already looking at employee skills instead of approaching them as a collection of job titles with industry-specific experience. If you don’t have the skills that are needed, top management is likely to replace you with a cheaper alternative. You can avoid this by doing the upskilling yourself.
It’s a path on which experience can be repurposed, but you must view your accomplishments from a different perspective. Start by making a list of your transferable skills. These skills can be strengthened if you are willing to put in the time and effort.
Make technology your friend
You don’t necessarily need to be a technology specialist. Instead, you will need to have certain technical skills that fit into your chosen field. You need to further develop both the technical expertise and the problem-solving people skills.
Build your profile AND your network
Everything you do in both the professional and social environment will be captured digitally. What you choose to post and how you present yourself matters. This is the foundation on which to build your network, and present a compelling profile of who you are.
You will need to do this at all stages of your career. As you add new abilities through upskilling, you enrich and strengthen your profile.
You also need to build your network both digitally and physically (when that again becomes possible after COVID-19). Find ways to insert yourself among people who are already doing what you want to do.
BONUS POINT: A strong profile and a stronger network can also be of value if you want to start your own business. Small businesses have been hit the hardest by the pandemic, but the sector will rebound, presenting more opportunities to entrepreneurs. People in transition or unable to find a job should also consider starting and running a small, lean company. Age is not a limitation. Startups founded by people in their 40s and 50s are often more successful than those started by new graduates. Your experience will pay off!
“It is not the strongest of the species who will survive, it is not the smartest of the species who will survive, it is the species most responsive to change!”
Even in a down market, you must look for solutions and keep reinventing yourself. As you evaluate how COVID-19 has impacted your career and your industry, you should ask yourself two questions: “What are the things I am good at? What opportunities are there for someone with my background?”
Do NOT limit yourself to the work you’ve always done. Find skills that can be strengthened with the right combination of technology and human ingenuity. Try to provide your company or customers or other businesses with a better service, better products, better experiences. Give value, but more importantly, learn to give value-for-money.
It’s important to remain open to the possibilities of online education despite all the current uncertainty. Staying positive rather than fearful about what’s coming will help you tremendously. Embracing continuous learning will bring success in both your work and your life.
Unicaf can help
The Unicaf Professional Development short courses have been designed to help working professionals gain knowledge AND improve their career prospects. These short courses are flexible, affordable, credible and easily accessible!
You have lots of options with Unicaf Professional Development short courses to add more weapons to your CV. This is the best way to prepare yourself for the new reality!