The ongoing pandemic has caused a lot of uncertainty and insecurity in our personal and professional lives. The instability of the economy has unfortunately left many professionals without a job or in fear of losing their current one, making change and uncertainty overwhelming and inevitable in the current economic atmosphere.
Recovery will take time. However, there are many ways we can take charge of the situation and do the best that we can to prepare for a post-pandemic job market.
Career experts at Bayt.com and IMA share six ways to make the most of this uncertain period.
Tip 1: Expand your horizons
If you’re looking for a new role, don’t limit your job search to your specific field or industry. The skills you have acquired in your current and past roles can be applied to other jobs and industries. Now that you have some time to reflect, ask yourself if you enjoy what you do and how you can move closer to your dream job.
It is the perfect time to see how your current skillset can make you a successful candidate in other fields. For example, finance and accounting professionals make great data scientists. They have outstanding technical skills. They naturally aggregate information in a manner that summarises details of transactions and other numbers. Working with descriptive analytics, predictive and prescriptive analytics comes more easily to them, as they already possess quantitative skills. They are great problem solvers and they are also better able to see the larger context and business implications.
Speak to your human resources department and see if there is a greater need for a specific role at your company and if you can shift internally or take the plunge and discover other fields and industries where your skills are of value.
Tip 2: Maximise your downtime
Whether you are actively looking for a job or are interested to grow in your current role, there are many different courses and certifications that you can explore and consider during this time to upscale your skills and make yourself indispensable. Dedicating a couple of hours in a week to a few online courses or certifications will not only sharpen your skills, but they will also strengthen your resume and give you an added edge.
If you’re a finance and accounting professional, you can consider taking a course on data analytics and visualisation. For those who are looking to do a career switch, there are many certifications such as the CMA that offers the chance to work in various areas of finance and accounting. Some of the most common jobs available to management accountants include CEO, CFO, CTO, controller, or finance manager, to name a few. After earning the CMA certification, professionals can take a variety of career paths related to operations and decision-making.
Tip 3: Network
You might think that this option is off the table amid a global pandemic when gatherings are out of view, but, fortunately, we also live in a highly digitised era where potential networking is still extremely possible, thanks to collaborative technology tools and virtual networking events.
So, reach out to old colleagues and even build new relationships in your field or your industry of choice. Join online business groups so you can widen your circle, network, and thus bring on new opportunities and build valuable connections.
Many such groups have mentoring programmes that support the development and enhancement of members’ leadership skills to aid in career advancement. Some programmes even offer free webinars, leadership recognition programmes, mentoring, training, and more. Having the right mentor and guidance during this uncertain period can provide a lot of encouragement and open doors to many great opportunities.
Tip 4: Make the Most of Online Events and Conferences
With many events and conferences being held online during the pandemic, it is now easier to join the conversation no matter where you are.
Joining such conferences will enable you to engage with the content, note key takeaways, and see how you can apply them in your current or future job role. Online events and conferences are also a great way to hear from your peers about the latest industry trends. During smaller events, there may be group discussions where you can interact with industry leaders, learn from them, and build long-term relationships.
Tip 5: Build an online personal brand
Building an online personal brand is extremely important since many of us are working remotely and can only connect virtually. Be sure to take the time to build your online brand by creating and updating your LinkedIn page and profiles on recruitment websites with your job experience and recently acquired certifications. Engage in online conversations and work towards becoming a thought leader in your field. You may possess interesting information that others might find useful and it could be a conversation starter with colleagues in your industry.
Tip 6: Make video your best friend
Lastly, due to social distancing measures, in-person meetings are on hold while remote interviews have surged. Since we do not know how long social distancing will continue, now is the best time to master your virtual interview skills.
When it comes to video interviews, ensure your space looks professional with good lighting and a neutral background. Conduct a test run in advance to confirm that you have a strong internet connection you can count on. You could even consider doing a practice interview with your friends or family to avoid any technological surprises on the day of your interview or just to get comfortable speaking to a camera. Be sure to have a backup plan ready including asking for a contact number in case you run into any unexpected issues on the day of the interview.
Also, consider keeping your resume and portfolio available in case you need to refer to a specific project or share materials on your screen.
Making an impression online is as important as making one during in-person meetings and can be a determining factor in the interview process.
The post-pandemic job market is going to be different so one must adapt to the changes and be prepared to face the uncertainties.
Hanadi Khalife is the director of MEA and India operations at Institute of Management Accountants (IMA)