Remote Working Culture – Essentials skills employers will look for
If you are one of the unlucky people who face redundancy, were put on furlough or lost their job due to Covid, you might have experienced first-hand that the job market is not what it used to be.
My new client Eva* was quite shocked how things have changed after losing her stable job of 11 years due to the pandemic. When I asked her what is the most worrying thing about her job situation, she broke down in tears and said: ‘I don’t even know where to start.’
Eva worried about being too old to start again. She thought she wouldn’t be able to compete with millennials for the same jobs. She didn’t have a strong LinkedIn profile or up to date CV and never registered with a recruitment agency. She searched Google for answers but felt overwhelmed and lost with the amount of seemingly contradictory information out there.
Eva worked her way up from a Receptionist to an Office Manager. She knew her company well and as the company grew her responsibilities increased. Her team got bigger and she considered her role to be an important part of the business. Eva liked her job and felt valued by the company. She had no plans to leave, she liked her colleagues, enjoyed the work and the stability her job provided for her and her two children. That was until Covid hit. Redundancy, at first a strong possibility soon became a bitter reality for her and many of her now ex colleagues.
Eva was now unemployed. She felt she not only lost her stable income but sense of identity and belonging. She felt alone and scared of starting again but giving up wasn’t an option. Eva had two children and a mortgage to pay.
We started with putting together a job search strategy, updated her LinkedIn, set up a few versions of her CV focusing on skills employers are currently looking for. We stayed organised, persistent and within a few weeks Eva had three interviews booked. Not long after she was offered a Virtual Office Manager role for a Fintech company. The role is better paid, she is able to work remotely and she is excited about building on her current skill set by becoming agile and working in a new way.
If you feel you are in a similar situation as Eva, you are not alone. Each day more and more people face redundancy or being let go from their jobs with no idea how to start again. The key is NOT to get overwhelmed and give up. Use your current skills and reinvent yourself.
Here are a few essential skills I have implemented with Eva to help her stand out from the crowd. These are the skills employers will be looking for in a post Covid world. Use them to help you stay ahead of the competition.
Feel free to get in touch if you need more help.
The first thing you should do is to have a visible online presence. Think of yourself as a new product. For people to start buying they need to know the product exists. It does not matter how great you are if no one knows about you.
Start with creating a strong LinkedIn profile. You can invest in a specialist to help you if you are looking to save time and energy. Use the extra time to focus on building your tailored network by connecting to groups, individuals and companies you are looking to explore.
LinkedIn offers many FREE and paid courses you can use to help you learn or improve your digital skills in your own time. Alternatively search for courses where you can learn analytics, content marketing, social media marketing, social selling, copywriting, video editing, etc.
Secondly, look at your current skills objectively and make a list of things you can do remotely without any training such as; booking/organising meetings, sending proposals, creating/running presentations, managing diaries, helping employees working remotely, reporting, etc. Make a list of new digital skills you might need to learn such as; agile principles, project management, new systems/application, new technologies, etc. Find a course and learn whilst you are looking for work.
For Eva it was difficult to imagine her traditional office manager role performed remotely but when we started to look at tasks she could do virtually, such as organising online events, meetings, conferences, projects and running office remotely, she realised her value and changed her mindset.
Look at working for smaller companies or start-ups where you can utilise your skill set if the big corporations are not hiring. Alternatively consider industries such as technology or the public sector
Learn to Network
Stop longing for the traditional way of meeting people and get familiar with the online networking world. Once you create your LinkedIn profile, connect with people in your field. Connect with people who inspire you and ask them to mentor you. Join Facebook/ LinkedIn groups in your niche. Post about your experience, get to know your network by commenting on posts and liking other people’s posts. Ask for help and advice. You might be surprised how much an online community can change your perspective.
Eva was not used to online platforms but once she started making connections with the like-minded people and joined a few networking groups she started to build her confidence. She commented on posts she was interested in or she could relate to. She gave advice on how the systems and processes she used to manage work. Her advice was well received with one person recommending her for a freelance project which tied her over whilst she was interviewing for jobs. Don’t underestimate the power of a networking group, people are willing to help more than you think.
With the economy and job market being unstable, less companies are willing to commit to hiring staff on a permanent basis. It is more convenient for a company to hire a contractor with the expertise they require for a shorter period of time. What it means for you as a candidate is to see yourself as a project manager or a consultant who is hired to solve a problem. You need to showcase your skills and experience in an agile way. Show you are a quick learner who can easily adjust to a new environment. Highlight your transferable skills and ability to work under pressure in a change driven environment without any supervision. If you can show you can deliver your work remotely and to a tight deadline, you will be in demand.
Eva was used to the traditional way of working. She worked toward set objectives, her career was planned out and she knew what was expected of her. She was worried about not having the adaptable skill set to work in an always changing environment. Once challenged she was able to show her independence and passion for doing her job with a different mindset. She started to believe in herself and her ability to do the job in an agile way.
Be a Leader with Emotional Intelligence
In uncertain times companies are looking for leaders, people who can think outside the box, show their human side and help their employees navigate through change and adversity. Managers who show they can work under pressure and stay positive, understanding to employee needs and are able to embrace the unknown are in high demand in the current job market. What it means for you as a candidate is to show your individuality, what you stand for and why people trust you. Show you are compassionate, fair, hardworking and dedicated when others have given up.
Eva thought being too understanding meant she was a weak manager, even a pushover. She thought to manage effectively she had to be strict, direct and separate from her team. After she changed her outlook, she understood that working with her team in a collaborative way, encouraging independence and empowering her direct reports is the key to being a leader. Changing her mindset helped her get a new job.
Convey your Creativity and Innovation
Now is the time to show your ideas, different ways of working and your ability to create in uncertainty. It is a perfect time to show what you are made of, either by setting up your own online business- (FREE video series) or showing employers that you have the ability to create new ways of working and help their business to thrive. When the traditional processes are not working or are too expensive, employers recognise the need to hire candidates with an innovative approach, passion, positive attitude and willingness to learn on the job and keep going. Show them you have the skills they need.
Eva had many new ideas over the years, but because most of the processes in her old company were already in place and working, there was no need for change. On the few occasions Eva implemented changes made at a higher level but she stopped getting excited about creating innovative projects. When Eva found herself starting again, the thought of being creative scared her at first, but when she started sharing her ideas, passions and new ways of working she could bring to the new role, I knew she was on the right track.
Don’t let rejection, negativity or lack of responses from the companies discourage you. Try to change your mindset, learn to use the skills you have in a way the employers see your value. Soon you will start seeing changes in your job search.
For more job search advice see here.
*name changed for confidentiality reasons