Rules Of The Job Game: Learn And Upskill
In a changing job market, adapt by building skills the marketplace needs—don’t wait for another similar role
Hindustani classical music has ragas designated for each hour of the day. There are ragas that are sung at dawn and dusk—the twilight zones when darkness and light wrestle with each other. When the sun wins this battle, it signals a new day. When the darkness takes over, night comes. We are going through a similar twilight zone in the world of work.
A Time of Churn
The world of work had a Before Corona (BC) era and what we will now see is the After Disruption or Destruction (AD) era. We are going through a time of churn. Any industry that brought people together has collapsed—aviation, car rentals, hotels, restaurants, conference providers, entertainment and event managers. Businesses that have lived for more than a century such as J. C. Penney (1902) and The Hertz Corporation (1918) have filed for bankruptcy. Millions have lost jobs, taken salary cuts and seen their savings disappear within weeks.
The world of work will never go back to the Before Corona days and it is time you look at your skills portfolio. Continuous learning, risk-taking and living with ambiguity will be standard features now.
How to Plan Ahead
1. Think skills, not jobs: Hiring across sectors will be muted for a while, but there is a high demand for several cutting-edge skills in every sector, especially tech. If you have been impacted by the recent slowdown, stop waiting for another job to replace the one you lost. Think of your skills and who can benefit from them. Talking to a career coach can help you identify possibilities. Recraft your LinkedIn profile to appeal to those employers.
2. Invest in learning new skills: Talk to search firms and headhunters and ask them about the skills in high demand. They can also tell you which sectors are hiring for skills that you have. Educational degrees and previous experience are becoming less valuable than the ability to learn. There are online courses for just about any skill that you wish to build. Invest in skills that the marketplace needs. Be prepared to step out of your comfort zone and change cities or sectors, or take a pay cut if that helps you get started on a new path.
3. Become a freelancer: Think of your hobbies and all those plans you made over the years. Maybe you wanted to start a YouTube channel or teach someone a skill. Create a marketing plan to launch brand ‘You’. Build a personal brand that tells potential buyers about your uniqueness. I know of a recruiter who left a stagnant career in a large IT firm to become a stand-up comedian. And a doctor, who is now a famous singer. A martial-arts sensation left a thriving career as a marketing head of a large firm to pursue her passion. You could be the owner of a boutique café or a dance studio or become a fitness guru.
Each one of us is now in the twilight zone of our careers. We can choose to see it as the dusk when the sun begins to set. Or, a dawn when the darkness starts to fade as the eastern sky signals the beginning of a new day.