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Volume-5,13-19 June 2020

Job and Career Strategies in Times of Covid

Vijay Prakash Srivastava

The world had never seen anything like this before. It is easy to understand that we're talking of the pandemic due to corona virus. In the past troubles use to erupt in one or other part of the world but this virus has spread everywhere and the entire world is struggling to mitigate the effects caused by the corona virus.

The outbreak of the virus is not just a health issue. It has shook the economies of countries of all sizes, whether underdeveloped, developing or developed. There are social and psychological effects of the pandemic. Countries have reduced their growth projections, businesses are talking of reduced demand, all of which in one way or the other are going to adversely affect the availability of jobs.

Let us be realistic. Human beings have been able to fight and win over every adversity in the past. May be getting full  control over this virus is going to take a bit longer but finally we'll come out of this difficult situation. However it's necessary to assess the multiple challenges that the pandemic has brought and formulate strategies to meet to overcome these.

This article is about the challenges related to the world of jobs and careers. For this we've to look into the changes in the world of work and various sectors which are providers of job opportunities.

The culture of working from home, also known as remote working has slowly been making inroads in our country. The outbreak of corona virus has made companies to allow more and more employees to work from home. Restrictions on commuting and exposure left only two options before a large number of organizations stop operations till the problem continues or explore how operations can be continued without employees coming to their regular place of work. The latter was the obvious choice as long as it was found feasible. Information technology companies have adopted work from home in a big way. Also it was a pleasant surprise to see government organizations going for remote working, which they have been hardly used to. Non-banking finance companies and many other finance companies, organization dealing with education and research too have been open to remote working. Manufacturing sector had to remain closed for a longer time, as to run the plant physical presence of workers is necessary.

Now many companies have decided that remote working which was introduced as a temporary measure will stay with them for a longer time. In fact few companies have decided to get some part of their work done remotely on a regular basis. Thus companies will need lesser space for reduced number of employees on site and will save on the cost of space, travel etc.

Remote working needs effective use of digital tools. Candidates willing to work in the industries using remote working need to develop their skills in working from home.

Countries all over the world are talking of job losses due to current pandemic. For example United States of America, seems to have lost 33 million jobs as reported by The Guardian website.  Job losses occur when companies retrench or lay off their employees as there is lesser demand for their product or services. As of now more and more countries are giving relaxations in lockdown, albeit with restrictions. However it would not be right to think that past demand levels can be restored soon. For nearly a quarter, economic activities have been closed across the world and the effects are telling. For some time we're going to see a vicious circle. Due to job losses and reduced incomes, consumption is sure to go down; resulting in lesser demand we'll see lesser vibrancy in the economies.

The pandemic hasn't affected all industrial sectors uniformly. Some of the industries are affected worse than others. Take the travel and tourism industry which has taken the biggest hit. With partial opening of rail and air trafficsome solace is there but it'll take longer for people to travel for leisure and pleasure. So hotels and resorts will bear the brunt for some more time. While the pandemic has come as a curse for certain sectors, some others have found new opportunities. Pharma, health sanitation and insurance to some extent, can be kept under this.

As everywhere there is talk of diminishing job opportunities, it's not surprising for job seekers to get worried. A similar situation was seen during the slowdown of 2008.

The good thing is, as compared to any other country, government in India is in all readiness to help economy and industry. Our central government has already announced a number of packages which have been welcomed by industry bodies such as Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and others. Let us hope that things will get better with time.

Job related concerns are not similar for everyone. Different set of candidates have different worries. A small segment of people, usually in private sector, has already been retrenched and understandably such people are facing more difficulties. In few cases erstwhile employers of these people have been trying to find alternative employment for them. Few job portals and recruitment agencies too have been extending help to people whose jobs have gone. Definitely some of these people will be placed with other companies. The ones who have not been successful need to be a bit aggressive in their job search and adopt a practical approach in handling the situation. This practical approach may demand a little flexibility while approaching or accepting a new job offer. There may be job offers with a pay cut or role reduction. Whether to agree or not to such offers, may be a difficult decision. But one has to accept the reality and remain positive that things may get better. Try to make best out of the situation with belief that your new experience may bring you more opportunities. Also you need to think aboutreskilling yourself which will add value to your candidature in the job market. There are various areas to choose for reskilling. You should go for those you find interesting and in which you see potential.

A large number of people are those who have been looking for a job and are stuck as hardly any new recruitment has been happening. They have to wait for a little more time. Public sector and government organizations who had invited applications in the past are keen to take up the selection process further in the coming months. Candidates looking forward to appear in such selection process have got more time to prepare and they should make productive use of this gap .Even if you're satisfied with your present preparation, some revision will always help you. As happens in any competitive selection, not all applicants are going to be taken as the numbers of applicants are often much more than the positions available. Now there are very few job notifications in newspapers and on job portals but as we progress in successive phases of unlock, new recruitment notices will be issued. When this happens, one should look forward to applying for more opportunities, to improve their chances of success. There are few competitive exams which are held every year and whose structure is defined. Considering your eligibility and interest you may start your preparation while waiting to apply when announcements are made.

Also the following points would help.

Adopting to the new normal:

Till we're fully protected against corona virus and get vaccinated (after the vaccine arrives), we've to take all the precautions like wearing mask and maintaining social distance etc. We've to take care of self and also see that we don't put others to risk. This is applicable at home and at your place of work, if any.

Be in readiness for telephonic/video interview: Personal, face to face interview has been the norm for most of us. But in last few years companies have been using telephonic/video interview for assessment of candidates. Information technology companies in particular, for skill based jobs, are more likely to use these in hiring people. If you're looking for a private sector job, chances for your getting interviewed remotely may be there and you should be developing your confidence for that. By taking help of your friends or family members you may undergo a few mock sessions of such interviews and bring improvement wherever required.

Broadening your job search criteria: For job seekers there are multiple things to consider .First one should know the area of work one is looking for. Then you've to think of organizations which may provide you such work opportunity. Also you need to explore the level or position for which you may be considered eligible. For example a chartered accountant who has just completed her course will start as a fresher, while the one with a couple of years' experience may get a managerial position (Assistant Manager/Manager) in the accounts department.  Every job seeker has to be clear whether she is looking for job locally, at nearby cities, nationally or globally. Many young people staying in villages and towns search for jobs only in newspapers. It may sound surprising but only a small percentage of jobs in our country are advertised in newspapers now. Also the same job advertisement is not going to appear in all the newspapers. Be warned that these days sometimes there are fake job advertisements in all media channels including newspapers. Don't depend on a single newspaper for job opportunities. For jobs in government departments and central public sector undertakings refer regularly to Employment News and national level newspapers. Many of the newspapers have online editions which can be accessed freely or by simple registration.

Use of Social Media: Now many employers find it more convenient to source potential candidates from social media platforms. Young people while creating their profile on a relevant social media platform will do well to keep this in mind. A LinkedIn profile is recommended to be posted by all the jobseekers. Also register your resume on different job portals .The resume should be designed carefully to highlight your competencies, strengths and skills. Remember that this resume is your first introduction with the employer and you'll be approached only if the resume creates a positive impression. 

In many new age companies there is a system of referral in which existing employees  may provide details of  people known to them  to their company to be considered  for a suitable role. This referral doesn't influence the selection process. You may explore if any of your friends or relatives is in a position to refer you for the kind of role desired by you.

The times are tough but there are few silver linings. We all know how Chinese products have invaded the world, mainly due to lower cost. These products included medical devices, electronic item, toys and heavy machinery too. In the new emerging world order China's dominance is going to take a hit for a number of reasons and this brings a never before opportunity to India. India has enough manpower to become the manufacturing hub for the world. Of course the country would be required to position itself like that with necessary planning. Our prime minister has already emphasised the need for 'Atmnirbhar Bharat' which means that we should be reducing our dependence on exports. With 'Make in India' already in place, one hopes that in the coming months more jobs would be created in manufacturing sector.

In these times of Covid, many negative news are floating and gloomy pictures are being projected. All these shouldn't make us disappointed and loose hope. The changing times require us to follow the effective principles of change management. Change means difference in status quo and uncertainty about future. There're things individuals can't control, so it would be better to focus on what is within our reach. In the present scenario we need to better equip ourselves, reinforce our valuable learnings, add to our knowledge and skills and become more aware of the opportunities available for us. All these are going to help us bring closer to a job or career which we desire.

(The author is a career counsellor based in Mumbai Email: v2j25@ yahoo.in)

Views expressed are personal Image

Courtesy : Google