For the first time in more than a decade, a single historical event has affected millions of careers at once. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted not just jobs lost, but also career trajectories for those who were expecting to move up in their organizations or find new responsibilities.The good news is that the large-scale change in work situations has helped change how employers think about “career gaps” on the resume. It’s no longer just about taking a step back in a career –– it can also be seen as stepping up to help families and communities. As a result, LinkedIn has updated profile options to elevate “stay at home parent” roles or sabbaticals for family leave. Here are other ways job candidates can rethink and reframe their job gaps, especially in light of the COVID-19 impact. Become a mentor You can continue to show leadership skills beyond a job title, such as signing on to be a mentor for an organization or an advisor to a start-up. If you want to be a mentor, finding the right mentee is a lot like the other side of the equation. Network and talk to key people in your company or network about the type of person you want to be a mentor to, and be specific. You can also check with your alma mater about alumni/student mentoring programs you can join. Becoming a mentor can be a valuable addition to your experience and resume.Keep improving job skillsThere are no shortage of ways to re-skill and upskill with online education and courses, and not having a full-time job can provide more opportunity for growth in soft skills. This includes communicating, critical thinking, meeting deadlines, being well-organized, collaborating and the ability to analyze and innovate. Employers are seeking these skills more than ever as they are broadly applicable across job titles.Step into volunteer rolesConsider volunteer roles that add expertise and knowledge to your tool kit. Use volunteering as an opportunity to try something new, perhaps a career you always wanted to explore. You may find it as exciting as you dreamed, or it may lack the glamour or fulfillment you envisioned. Follow your passion – when you are giving back to something you believe, it is much easier to learn new skills.Ultimately, employers will be much more understanding of gaps in your resume during this past year, given the circumstances. At the same time, this is an opportunity to keep learning and growing –– and find what you really want to do in your career.
How to Reframe Career Gaps
Why Having the Right Soft Skills is Essential
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, soft skills had been growing in demand to fill new roles that complement automation and new kinds of work. Today, that acceleration has only magnified the need for businesses to hire for, train and cultivate the right kind of skills among their workforces.According to new ManpowerGroup research, a K-shaped, two-speed recovery is emerging. Some industries and people are bouncing back faster and better – those in growth sectors and with high demand skills –while others are at risk of falling further behind. By 2025, humans and machines will split work-related tasks 50-50, while 97 million new jobs will emerge in AI, the Green economy and Care economy.1As the workforce moves quickly into a new chapter in the digital era, here are soft skills that employers today need most.Collaboration, communication and teamworkDrawing on multiple people’s talents from diverse backgrounds is the best way to foster the creativity and innovation needed to find solutions to today’s complex challenges. This includes the soft skills of being able to connect people between a variety of styles, generations and work environments. And, as the business environment becomes more complex and flexible work arrangements continue, effective communication skills will be even more essential. The collaborative nature of leaders and workers will be able to add value and glue together disparate elements to create more than the sum of their parts.Critical thinking and analysisComputers can generate big data. Spreadsheets can help analyze numbers. Machines can help automate responses and generate outcomes. But at the end of the day, humans are still needed to see the big picture, communicate effectively, incorporate data, feedback and insights to solve problems and make sound decisions. When there isn’t always a clear road map, the ability to think holistically and consider long-term implications is essential.Leadership and influenceWith uncertainty the norm, organizations need employees who can effectively navigate challenging environments, motivate teams and produce results. That is why transparency, resilience, and optimism are such essential traits of today’s leader.While automation is augmenting work, effective teamwork and collaboration among humans will only increase in importance. A leader must, therefore, possess the interpersonal skills to guide and motivate teams to deliver results even in the midst of change and ambiguity.Having the right soft skills will be even more essential as organizations transform and digitize at speed and scale. The biggest challenge, however, will be to bring all people on this transformation so that nobody is left behind.Download the report,Skills Revolution Reboot: The 3Rs - Renew, Reskill, Redeployfor more insights on today’s soft skills and how to assess for them.1 The Future of Jobs Report 2020. World Economic Forum, October 2020.
Searching for Jobs After College
Moving from college to the workplace traditionally requires major adjustments, including acquiring new skills on the job and learning to balance independent projects. Right now, economic and public health uncertainty only adds to the stress on college graduates. But stepping back, slowing down and taking concrete steps can help mitigate anxieties and improve your outlook. Here are ways to help navigate the unchartered waters. Build a mentor relationship In college, students can easily stop by a professor’s office hours or book an appointment with your academic advisor or job counselor. The same principles of mentorship are just as important to getting started in the workplace. After you graduate, you have to be more proactive about securing your own mentor. Having a mentor will enable you to learn what employers expect from new grads and you can use the information to make yourself job ready, and also help find new opportunities in sectors that are hiring. Take a skills inventory Does your resume reflect all that you are capable of accomplishing? Make sure that you reflect not just your major and hard skills, but also soft skills like learnability that shows you can make adjustments during turbulent periods. Research from ManpowerGroup has concluded that 65% of the jobs Generation Z will perform do not even exist yet, and right now is certainly a time of disruption and change. Show how your past has prepared you for a future that is evolving and being invented in front of us. Be open to new forms of work Look beyond the full-time permanent roles. In some sectors, hiring is ramping up right now for temporary or short-term work. Taking a temporary job to help meet demand may provide an in to a company, or an end in itself. Today, nearly 9 in 10 workers are open to NextGen work– part-time, contingent, contract, freelance or temporary. As younger workers bring tech-savvy skills to the workplace, new graduates can turn to flexible employment opportunities where it is needed most. Reach out to help others Right now, it’s easy to develop tunnel vision with respect to your own needs. No one will blame you for that. But many others are going through the same uncertainty, and seeking ways to help is not a zero-sum game. Over time, how you treat others builds a reputation. Recognizing others need assistance, offering to be of service through small acts like proofing someone else’s resume or sending an email with encouragement will become an extension of your resume. Do it for its own reward, and it’s likely to help deepen and expand your network as well. After years of being in the school system, it will take new grads time to transition to a new world –– and that’s never been true more than now. For college graduates, it’s important to be patient, keep being productive where you can be, and keep the faith.
Developing a Career Roadmap for Your Future
Having a plan for your career was important before the pandemic – and it’s even more critical now as companies are adapting and accelerating changes throughout their organizations. Do you know where you are headed? Below are steps you can take to develop a plan for the next months, years or decades of their careers.Know your skills and strengthsFirst, take a skills inventory to know your strengths and where they could apply in the future. Many soft skills like communication, creativity and leadership that helped you in a previous or current role can be transferred to future opportunities. To help with this process, use an outside resource that can help spot hidden strengths. The SkillsInSight tool, for example, is a free and short assessment that you can take to receive immediate feedback on what your personality traits say about your strengths and opportunities in the workforce. Have career conversationsThe organization you work for should seek to help you on your journey, whether that means developing hard skills or soft skills to take the next leap. Schedule conversations with your manager to discuss how they can assist. You can also check with your HR department to see what virtual tools or career growth classes they may offer, or if they provide tuition remission or other assistance to take ongoing education. Make your goals and plans known to those in the organization so they can help you succeed.Know your career optionsDo you want to seek out a new responsibility in your organization, and redeploy new skills to help colleagues? Or do you have an eye on a new kind of role in a different organization? Or are you excited to explore new emerging digital jobs that may not even exist yet? In any event, do research to see what options may exist in your immediate vicinity or beyond, and consider how they fit your short- and long-term career goals.No matter where you are in your career, taking the time to consider what you really want is an important strategy amid an ongoing crisis. Start planning today, and you give yourself the opportunity to reach where you really want to find yourself in the future.
Top Communication Skills Employers Seek From College Grads
If you are a recent graduate, now is the time to work on refining certain skills to help your transition to the workplace.This summer, a new group of ambitious college graduates will hit the job market. Along with their energy and enthusiasm also comes inexperience. Here are the top communication skills that employers want to see from new grads. Listen, listen, listenWhen you are just starting out, you should listen more than you talk. Really hear what the other person is saying, instead of formulating your response. Ask for clarification to avoid misunderstandings. The person speaking to you should be the most important person. Don’t multitask. This means that if you are speaking to someone on the phone, do not respond to an email, or send a text at the same time. Be clear and concise Maybe every once in a while, on occasion it could be said that a college student filled a 20-page paper will a few filler words to meet a minimum word count. In the business setting, however, time is money. Getting to the point in a presentation or meeting is a premium communication skill. Work on clearly articulating your point in a concise and direct manner.Project management skills In college, a big project rarely lasted longer than a semester, and usually were much shorter. But in the workplace, you are often expected to juggle multiple projects that can last six months, a year or longer. Set several milestone goals, check in on progress regularly, get feedback, and use the resources of others around you. Practice the art of meetings Meetings in an office are also different than the group meetings or the dorms at college. To respect others’ time, always send out an agenda before the meeting, giving participants enough time to prepare. At the start of the meeting, establish the ground rules for communicating, and any other expectations. Finally, send meeting minutes to those who participated or who will be affected by what was discussed. Organizations know that it will take time for new graduates to get acclimated to their new work environment. That’s also a two-way street. Spend time getting up to speed in your communication practices, and the transition will be smoother for everyone.
How to Move Past Setbacks at Work
After a setback or mistake at work, at one time or another, we have all questioned our abilities or if we were in the right role. But it’s important to consider the big picture and get stronger from setbacks. Here are questions to ask, ways to learn from your mistakes and come back stronger. Determine your core strengthsDo you feel like your work is an effective use of your talents – or are you lacking in a key skill? This may seem overly basic, but for a variety of reasons sometimes your skills aren’t where you can best align them in your role. You may have missed the mark if you didn’t have the proper training, support or understanding of your role. Talk with your supervisor to learn exactly what you need to succeed, and where you can grow. Take pride in your workEvery job has elements that can feel like chores. But take a deeper look if this is a temporary unpleasantness or a systematic problem. Many successful projects will have trial and error or even failure built in on the path toward meaningful changes. Ask yourself at the end of the day, where can you reflect on your work and have a sense of pride in your accomplishments and what you’ve produced for the world?Find support from mentorsEveryone has their own examples of coming up short, and often that’s people on your own team who can relate most to the same type of mistakes. Lean into these relationships when you need them and ask for support. A robust support system can help you get through frustrations and setbacks, and one of the best indicators of job satisfaction is the relationships you build with colleagues, bosses and others at your work.Focus on what you can controlWith setbacks, there can be factors outside of your control. But you will be more resilient if you focus on what you can control, such as upskilling, growing and improving. Learnability is the desire and ability to continually learn and grow throughout our careers. To keep that skill sharp, ask yourself what a setback can teach you, and what you can learn. After a setback, the key is to continue to understand what happened and adapt. Look to the future, understand that mistakes will happen, and make the experience a catalyst for becoming better.
How to Practice Gratitude at Work
Grateful people are successful people.“Gratitude is the ultimate performance-enhancing substance at work,” says Professor Robert Emmons, a gratitude researcher and professor of psychology at UC Davis.Employees who excel at work don’t wait for something good to happen to be thankful; it’s often the other way around. To get yourself on the gratitude track, here are ways to increase gratitude in the workplace.Notice the small thingsAt the end of the work day, make a list of three things that went right. Even if it was a challenging day, anyone can find three positives, such as finishing an important email, booking a meeting or committing to taking a lunch break. Put this in a prominent place at your desk where you’ll see it when you arrive the next day. Be thankful for small wins and use the moment to start the day with momentum.Compliment a colleagueIt’s easy to get wrapped up in our routine and challenges we face. But even when you’re busy – and especially when you’re busy – pausing to notice the accomplishments of a colleague and thank them will lighten your load. When you pay attention to catch your co-workers doing something right, you’re less likely to negatively stew over your problems. The positivity will be reflected back on your mood and productivity.Write simple thank you notesYou don’t have to make a big show of gratitude. A simple post-it note that’s left on your monitor or on a colleague’s desk will do the job just fine. It’s not the stationary that counts – it’s the thought.Create a digital gratitude folderWhen you get an email that means a lot to you, don’t delete it or let it sit in your inbox. Instead, start a gratitude email folder for compliments and projects you’ve accomplished. Scroll through it on days when you need the extra boost.Gratitude takes work, but it’s worth it. Being mindful of what’s right can help build momentum into a beneficial upward cycle. Thanks for reading – now pass it on.