It will take some time to fully understand the impact of COVID-19 and how severe they are. One certain thing, however, is that the labour market has been reshaped by this pandemic.
The long-term economic impact of the coronavirus crisis is still unclear, but what is evident at this point is that job cuts, layoffs, pay-cuts, and hiring-freezes are already happening.
While the magnitudes are uncertain, it is already clear that we will see a sharp decline in incomes, rising unemployment, and widespread business closures. How then do you remain relevant in your job and stay employable during such uncertain times?
1. Make Use of Traineeship Opportunities
Landing a job is challenging even during economic booms. The unemployment rate in South Africa before the pandemic was already at an alarming 30.1%.
The situation has drastically worsened in the COVID 19 era. With this pandemic and the unfolding recession, receiving an employment offer letter may seem like a pipe dream–especially if you’re a recent graduate.
Securing a job is going to be the biggest challenge for the next coming years, especially for those without experience.
Unfortunately, you need to obtain a job first before you can gain experience. Internships are a great way for college students, recent graduates or anyone considering a career change to obtain valuable work experience.
The best part is while companies are cutting down on staff, internships programs will likely remain relevant as they are a cheaper way for companies to get labour.
The hands-on work experience interns receive is invaluable and cannot be obtained in a classroom setting. In addition to learning the specialized skills of a particular field, transferable skills such as communication, teamwork, and computer proficiency are also obtained in an internship. This fully prepares interns to enter the workforce upon graduation.
Moreover, internship experience makes a college graduate more marketable as they usually require less training and can handle more responsibilities.
You may also receive a higher starting salary. Chances are you will also get a higher starting salary compared to your inexperienced peers.
Internships are not only a major boost to your career but they may actually be your ticket to your next job as they are a practical way to expand your job network.
The professionals you encounter during an internship can be your future colleagues or the connection to your first job. In the working world, it’s all about who you know.
As an intern, you will be surrounded by professionals in the industry. The most successful job search usually comes from meeting others in your field who can recommend you for open positions. Internships.
Moreover, the supervisors and mentors you meet during your internship can be a valuable reference for you as you pursue a full-time job.
And if you produce good results, you might just end up getting a permanent contract as a company may decide to hire an intern at the end of the assignment.
Even if a job offer doesn’t come right away, an intern who makes a favourable impression could receive an offer down the line when an opening occurs.
2. Refine Your Soft Skills
With the world of work changing at an ever-increasing rate, learning how to future proof your career has never been more important.
Most jobs had already been replaced by technology and now with COVID-19 causing such a ruckus, securing a job will be even harder.
While enhancing your technical or job-related skills is indeed important, soft skills are just as crucial in driving career success.
Soft skills such as creativity, highly developed social skills, problem-solving, leadership and empathy will be in demand in the labour market.
The world as we know, it no longer exists, but that’s fine. Life has a middle name, CHANGE. They is no point trying to fight it or stand in its way.
The best thing you can do for your career is to embrace change. Just find ways to position yourself to take full advantage of the changes occurring in your organization or industry.
Be flexible, look upon change as an opportunity for growth. Your ability to adapt to the new world will be the difference between being left behind and using change as an opportunity to accelerate your career progression.
Become a lifelong learner, learn and adopt the skills that will get you to the next level. Marshall Goldsmith’s iconic leadership book “What got you here won’t get your there” has never been more relevant.
Beyond that, articulate your value because not everyone may see it the way you do. You must learn to confidently articulate your value and how you have contributed to the strategy, results, bringing together a high performing team, sales, negotiating outcomes, and everything else you do.
3. There’s nothing to lose, but everything to gain by being proactive
This pandemic may have come as a surprise to the globe, but that doesn’t mean you should live on reactive mode.
Take charge of your life and your career. Look out for areas that you can improve on and you’ll be well-positioned for when the economy recovers.
Whether you are looking for a new job or aiming to secure your current position, you should find ways to keep your finances in order so you can be prepared during times of uncertainty.
This involves setting up your retirement goals, taking control of your debt and building an emergency fund.
You should also find ways to cut current costs, whether it’s something as small as making more of your meals at home or as large as refinancing a mortgage or swapping your current insurer for a cheaper one.
Learning to be proactive at work is a tough skill to master, but it’s well worth the investment of time and energy. It is both an aptitude and an attitude—a way of doing and also, a way of thinking, which, when combined, becomes a way of being.
It is the thing that differentiates ordinary professionals from exceptional ones. As an exceptional, indispensable employee, you can most certainly put your mind at ease knowing you are probably not on the retrenchment list.
Securing your job might be as simple as managing to make yourself an indispensable part of the organization. Volunteer for office committees and become more involved in off-site gatherings.
Start to become known to the people at all levels within your office. Offer to take on more responsibility with the people you have come to know through your office networking.
Encourage management to send you to training, trade shows and other activities that will help you to meet new people and gain importance with the company.
One thing is clear, the world will not be the same after this. But in the longer term, the economy will prevail and so will we.
The economy will likely transform in the post COVID- 19 era, so must you. Invest in self-growth, move with times and in a world where everyone is crying of retrenchment, you might just stand as a beneficiary of that transformation.