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career advice, covid-19, skills & qualifications...
2020 had a tumultuous start with far-reaching effects that have changed people’s lives, the economy, culture and the world of work. People’s experiences of the lockdown have been vastly different and there have been many difficulties to overcome when adjusting to working from home, furloughing schemes and much more. What many might not have realised though, is that the huge amounts of upheaval and adaptation that occurred as a result of the lockdown have imparted many new soft skills that are actually career enhancing as they lend themselves to leadership!
Whilst you were coping with the effects of the pandemic, you were also learning how to be an effective leader by gaining and developing soft skills that will help you throughout your career.
The term ‘soft skills’ is used to refer to the non-technical skills that are still relevant to a job role. These can include personal traits, communication skills, social or emotional intelligence and skills that complement technical skills, enabling efficient teamwork, timekeeping, and achieving targets.
Soft skills are equally important as ‘hard skills’, or technical abilities, and are often very desirable attributes to current or future employers as they indicate how you cope with stress, time management, and teamwork.
Given the varied effect that Covid-19 had on many people’s lives and careers, it has been important for everyone to operate and use a high level of emotional intelligence when speaking with colleagues, friends and even family about Covid-19 and work.
Being able to empathise with other people’s experiences and emotions is an invaluable skill to have in times of uncertainty and in times of stability and indicates to an organisation that you can be an effective and understanding leader better able to manage people.
Most people during the course of the lockdown have learnt something new, be it a new skill, craft, language, or even just how to adjust to a new routine and working style. Being this flexible and committed to making the most of a difficult situation by bettering yourself goes a long way towards suggesting your ongoing goals for future learning and career development.
You could continue to capitalise on your new-found enjoyment of learning new skills in the safe and comfortable environment of your own home by making a list of technical or ‘hard skills’ you could learn that would look good to future or current employers. From there you could aim to learn one new skill every six weeks.
Finding hard skills to develop or learn that complement your career goals or innovates your current role would be a good habit to form, be it learning some coding to help automate Microsoft Excel functions, or exploring a Google Analytics course to better understand website back-end capabilities, reporting functionalities and consumer usage.
Being an effective leader means knowing how to distil information and extract meaning or actions, manage time, resources and communicate with others. Many have learned how to do this better during the lockdown out of necessity.
The huge amounts of news and information available about the pandemic and its results have been of markedly different quality, and everyone has had to learn how to assess the meaning and develop critical thinking skills to make judgements. This skill will enhance the way we work too, allowing for better decision making.
Being self-sufficient in this way and being able to liaise and collaborate with other colleagues will go a long way towards boosting your career into management or senior management.
Without team meetings bringing colleagues together, everyone has had to use their own initiative to get projects and individual deliverables completed on time. This has led to some very innovative teamwork and with projects being revised to suit remote working, or products redesigned entirely to accommodate virtual or digital usage.
Being able to work with a team remotely during this time has pushed everyone to think outside the box and have a greater understanding of the flexibility we may need in the future when it comes to user experience.
The lockdown separated families, friends and colleagues for months and forced everyone to embrace technology to communicate and simulate that face-to-face experience of being in the same room. Don’t get us wrong, this has led to awkward silences in Zoom meetings followed by everyone talking at once – but this was a necessary step towards better handling of video conferencing and meeting etiquette!
The rise of video conferencing technologies also opens up far-reaching opportunities to people at different professional levels to become involved with international client meetings. People who may not have been seen as necessary on an expensive, international business meeting but have technical insight will now be able to enhance their careers by being involved in those meetings via video software, creating a better business experience all round.
Edward Mann can assist you in finding the right career for you to use your skills to the best of your abilities. Our vacancies are specially picked so you can find a role where you can fully utilise your abilities and plan for personal growth to ensure a bright future.