Career changes and job hunting in COVID-19: Regional director of General Assembly shares her top tips
Apart from casualties, monetary losses, and the slightest inconveniences of heading out with a mask on, the ripple effects of the coronavirus have also thrown a spanner in the works for those considering a job change. With many people driven into unemployment and others adjusting to new measures in their workplaces, it's been a challenging time for anyone who consider a job part of their identity.
Where do we go from here? Well, we keep going. Aspirations shouldn't be left on hold; especially for those staring into an uncertain future, there is now ample time to reconsider what one really wants out of their career. Albeit daunting, a career or job change in this climate shouldn't be written off. But it also shouldn't be done hastily, without a plan.
Aziza Sheerin, regional director at General Assembly Singapore, a global tech education company that strives to advance the future of work, shares how to navigate job-switching in spite of economic turmoil.
Identify your skill-building aspirations
Figure out the skills you need for the job you want — whether it's for a promotion, or an entirely new job you want to pursue. It's understandable to feel lost right now, especially since everyone is trying to survive through a global pandemic and the uncertainty that it poses.
- Start off by doing some self-reflection and research. What do you like and dislike about your job? What are some industries that interest you? Read up on these industries by subscribing to industry newsletters.
- Look at job listings and LinkedIn to find out what kind of skills and experiences employers are looking for for the jobs you want. Better yet, if you know an industry insider, request for a connection and ask questions.
- Dabble a little: try out free short programs online, such as the skill workshops that General Assembly runs for free every Friday.
- Invest time and energy. General Assembly has partnered with the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) to provide subsidies for Singaporeans/PRs for career-changing courses, so you can invest your time in courses that help you re-skill/upskill, with ease.
Gauge your interests using online resources
General Assembly is one of the many educational institutions offering free short programmes online that can give you a taster of subjects that you'd want to explore further. Check out their Free Fridays initiative, where you can attend workshops across topics like coding, data, digital marketing, UX design and more — all of which are skills essential to the modern workplace.
Dive deeper into your areas of interest through proactive upskilling
Rather than just learning a new functional domain, look at trends in your industry and identify which skills could benefit you. For instance, if you're a marketer, learning data analytics would be something that you should look into, since most marketing organisations today are moving towards being more data-driven. These are broader, cross-functional skills that you can apply even outside of the industry you are currently in.
- Learn to communicate well. Check your written work for errors with tools like Grammarly, and make an effort to be better at speaking clearly.
- Learn how to analyse and understand data. Excel, SQL and data visualisation skills are especially valuable deriving insights on running an efficient business now, whether you're in marketing, sales or operations.
- Last but not least, learn tech tools relevant to your role, and follow trends related to your industry.
Network to support your career progressions
Things are a little tricky in this pandemic, with the lack of in-person events. However, you can always attend free virtual community events and platforms, such as the ones listed on the events section of the General Assembly's website. Who knows? You might even form great connections and get insider information about what's going on in the industry. Build your network through causes that you support, and volunteering activities. Add people on LinkedIn or follow them on social media platforms.
Most importantly, listen. Building a solid network requires you to give more than you take. Don't worry about being an introvert either. As Michael Lints, Managing Partner at Golden Gate Venture shares in his article on building and sustaining a global network, "Networking doesn't mean you have to socialise at every event or conference. Networking is about building sustainable connections with people, based on mutual respect and added value.".