These are scary times to be hunting for a job. But take heart. There are things you can do to prepare yourself to launch your career once the job market bounces back.
Three things, to be exact, if you tuned in to Young NTUC’s LIT career dialogue, LITerally Online: Career Insights on Instagram Live last Wednesday, 22 April. Andy Koh, Senior CX Strategy Partner at Starhub, talked about his marketing experiences with host Sylvia Chan, Co-founder of Night Owl Cinematics. He also answered questions from the audience.
We’ve summed up the most striking insights from the session into these three points:
1. Put your skills to the test—especially transferable skills
Don’t spend your time worrying over what kind of job you can find right now, or once the circuit breaker ends. Instead, assess what you’ve done and can do. What transferable skill sets do you have?
Now would be a good time to put them to the test. And you don’t need a workplace to do so. You can do pro-bono work, like helping out a charity that’s helping people deal with Covid-19.
For example, you can develop and improve your influencing skills, which are essential to becoming an effective marketer.
“You have to have the influencing skills to be able to talk to different parties,” says Andy.That requires placing yourself in others’ shoes to understand their concerns and how you can alleviate them.
Case in point: when SingTel was rolling out 4G, they had to be able to convince consumers that it was worth paying a higher price for the service. To do so, the marketing team first had to understand consumers’ apprehensions around the service offering.
It’s important to hone these soft and transferable skills because they can be useful across different job roles. After the Covid-19 pandemic blows over, some job roles might become defunct, but new ones will be born.
“There are lots of things you can imagine possibly becoming jobs in the new world,” said Andy. For example, the pandemic has sped up telehealth adoption. Telehealth companies will need marketers who understand consumers and form marketing strategies based on human analytics.
Covid-19 has also pushed the adoption of digital technologies in other industries. For instance, hawker stall owners are now selling online via food platforms. Post-pandemic, people may continue selling food online and delivering them to consumers’ doorsteps. How can they make this process easy, painless, and seamless?
Regardless of industry, your ability to understand and address consumer pain points will be useful. You can hone it now by participating in pro-bono projects and charity work.
2. Humility leads to opportunity
Say you dream of working at Google, but they don’t have a marketing job open. They do, however, have a contract customer service role available.
Andy would advise you to take it. “At the end of the day, you’ll understand the ins and outs of the company,” he explained.
Plus, you just might meet the right person in the company who can give you your desired job.
This entails humility on your part. After all, you’ll be joining the company in a role that’s different from the one you want. You’ll have to push aside your ego if you want to grab the opportunity.
“Put yourself out there and be humble. At the end of the day, you’ll get somewhere,” said Andy.
Humility also means having the courage to ask for help. “People around you are willing to help you. Be open, be humble, ask for help,” Andy shared.
These requests for help will aid you in building a professional network as well. During the circuit breaker period, you can do this by joining charitable activities or reaching out to virtual mentors online.
3. Sometimes, the timing just isn’t right
The biggest failure Andy experienced as a marketer happened almost a decade ago, at a time when the iPhone was the sole dominant smartphone. He was already working in the telco sector at the time.
To avoid having all their eggs in one basket by having one major hardware supplier, the telco decided to try to increase the sales of Android phones. They launched a campaign to encourage people to download apps from the Google PlayStore.
At the end of the year, after having spent a huge amount of money (he didn’t say how much), the team looked at the data—and saw that things had barely changed. People just didn’t care about Android phones at that time.
It was a brilliant strategy that made good business sense. But the timing wasn’t right.
Similarly, the timing might be bad for a job-hunt right now. Andy had this to say to young people: “Give companies some time, be patient, and let them think about how they want to restructure their company going forward. Hiring will come back once the situation changes.”
While waiting, put yourself out there and look at opportunities around you. Join non-profit organisations or start a project with your friends to make something that’s useful in helping people cope with the pandemic.
Meanwhile, keep on growing and learning
As Covid-19 continues to wreak havoc on people’s health and economies, it’s understandable for you to be anxious. One way to deal with your anxiety is to develop a mindset of growth and opportunity.
Consider, for example, the opportunity to learn. Andy, for one, has been busy in the kitchen, cooking up all sorts of recipes. You can focus on upskilling to prepare yourself to take your career forward post-Covid-19.
You can also seek out a mentor. Andy is one among dozens of virtual mentors who have volunteered to provide advice to graduating students and young professionals through Young NTUC’s virtual mentorship program.
To chat with Andy, book a slot in his calendar—he’s available for an hour-long mentoring session at 11 am on Saturdays and Sundays. If not, you can also refer to the list of available mentors too and book an e-appointment with them.
There will also be more upcoming sessions of the LITerally Online: Career insights.
Topics like mental wellness and working in the social service sector, insights from an industrial relations officer are examples of the exciting topics you can look forward to.
Meanwhile, stay hopeful.
This too shall pass.
And once it does, you’ll emerge ready, with skills that you’ve put to the test, a network of people who can help you, and an attitude of humility and resilience to start this new chapter of your life.