Who would’ve foreseen the current reality of 2020 in any of the employment trends!
The social and economic implications of Coronavirus outbreak have led to massive unemployment with millions losing their jobs within the last 2 months. The overall unemployment rate in India soared to 30.9% in early April.
Every day, you hear the news of companies laying off their employees or asking them to go on furlough. From the latest layoffs by Zomato and Airbnb, none of the industries can escape the pressure of layoffs. This shows that irrespective of the business size, layoffs will be a part of their cost-cutting exercise for survival in the coming months.
In fact, for most employers, the pandemic outbreak led to the revenues being stopped overnight by their customers. From customers stopping campaigns, halting projects, and ending contracts for an indefinite time, their woes are endless. As an employee, when you see the world changing daily, job security would be your primary concern, giving you many a sleepless night. While you have no control over the virus or the job market, you can still prove your worth, keep your job secure, and thrive in these strenuous times.
Here are the 6 steps you can take to make yourself a candidate worth retaining. In case if your entire department gets laid off, then these skills make you an appealing candidate for potential employers.
#1. Be RAFT (Resilient, Adaptive, Flexible, and Thoughtful) – Combined, the RAFT skills are the most valuable ones irrespective of the job role. They will help you sail through rough waters. To stay afloat and handle the unknown, you should demonstrate:
From all these traits, resilience is the most critical one that will force you to pull the oars and get back on track. Along with maintaining the momentum when your grit is tested, you will need to evolve. This includes paying close attention to how the company is dealing with the situation and the current market trends.
As the circumstances shift, your job would be to meet the needs accordingly. Take up tasks and projects that are needed to keep your employer afloat and succeed. Regardless of the company size, take up additional roles when you are asked to, which originally was not a part of your job. Find out the jobs where you could help. While it might require more efforts to be put in from your side and discipline, this will set you apart when teams are getting smaller.
When you do all this, you will come out as being kind and thoughtful of your manager and colleagues. You will be seen as a valuable asset and a leader who is difficult to let go of.
#2. Demonstrate your ability to think beyond your job role – Being flexible and adaptable is only one part of the job. While dealing with an unforeseen obstacle you could demonstrate creative thinking that can benefit the organization. When the entire industry is rewriting the way it operates with the traditional best practices going out of the window, bringing and pitching new ideas will help your company. Still better than not having any.
When the tide lifts back all boats, employees who are inventive and creative with their thought process will be valued differently. Those bringing inventive solutions to a problem will be sought-after. More than ever before, employers are looking for job seekers who can solve their pain points. Even if these ideas don’t directly contribute to the revenue or savings, creative and resourceful thinking will help you increase your job security.
If your suggestions can reduce the organization’s expenses or save jobs, you will be a valuable team member that your employer will want to hang on to.
#3. Become an inquisitive learner – Even before the pandemic, there has always been a new marketing skill, a new coding language or a sales trick worth mastering. While you do not have to learn every new trick in the market, knowing what are the right skill sets you need to upgrade to speed up your career is important. In this fast-moving world, being an inquisitive learner, a student for life is vital.
To start with, reflect on the skills that are relevant to your industry that you haven’t had the time to develop and nurture. Focus on acquiring them. In these times you have a better work-life balance. With remote work being implemented so widely, your travel time to the office is erased from the schedule. You would be able to focus more time and energy on learning new skills. If your team has gotten leaner and scrappier, you can take up more tasks. For example, if you are a website coder, you can learn to design the user experience or interface (UX/UI) by taking up online courses. Also, you can reach out to veterans and take their advice.
When you pick up new skills that would even save your job from automation, figure out the format of online courses that work for you. You will also understand your strength and weakness, knowing both of which make you a better employee. Bringing new skills on the table gives you the reputation of being a self-learner who takes up initiatives when needed.
Although you are learning to be better in your current role, keep an eye on the industry, and build connections. That would help you move on to a newer job if needed. Also research about the fields that are growing because of the pandemic. Namely, teleconferencing, digital media, healthcare technology, and customer experience. The next step is to sharpen the skills relevant to those industries.
#4. Be solutions-oriented and execute them – At the business school, they tell you that having a strategic vision is an important skill that employers look for. However, in times where layoffs are just a step away, it’s equivalent to creating a pretty PowerPoint presentation but not being able to implement it.
Employers need team members who can come up with solutions without being asked and execute them. COVID-19 has thrown the best-laid plans out of the window and forced professionals to come up with strategic plans with tight timelines.
Overnight, companies had to adopt new business models and revamp their monetization strategies. When unemployment skyrockets, those who can roll up their sleeves and get things done, fast, no matter how small or not-so-glamorous they may be, will be retained.
The hardest working, tenacious works with dedication and determination will stand out from their peers and colleagues.
#5. Don’t stop networking – Networking is an ever-continuous skill, whether you are looking for a new job opportunity or not.
We as humans crave interactions and all the more so when everyone is working remotely. Keep attending webinars, virtual conferences, coffee dates with your current team members, and touch-base with the previous colleagues. Reach out, check if they are okay. Being vulnerable shows your human side and share your experiences and challenges.
We’re all in this together, so when everyone around you is being affected by a job loss, be a genuine team player. Step in to help. In case you want advice, don’t be afraid to ask what you need. It could be as simple as tips on how to keep the current job or how to develop new skills. The truth is, people, love to help. And you might even brighten someone’s day by impacting them positively.
#6. Empathize – Along with the technical skills, empathy, a soft skill is in great demand by employers. It makes the people around you feel good. Candidates who bring empathy in dealing with their clients and co-workers are more likely to keep their job because they are a joy to work with. They will rise on the top.
One reason why people avoid empathizing is that it takes mental efforts, found research by the American Psychological Association. The same study suggests that when people know that they can be empathetic, they are more likely to do that. Start with helping and being compassionate with those in your organization who are struggling. Can you help them in any way? Listen to their roadblocks, pain points, and offer to help in whichever way you can.
Our daily life is in a state of turmoil. It’s obvious to want job security and stability. These six skills will strengthen your position in your current organization. Simultaneously, they will boost your confidence when exploring new opportunities. In the end, you will come out of this slowdown stronger and more resilient than ever.