During these unprecedented times the world of work is evolving and changing to overcome the challenges caused by the Covid-19 virus and the ensuing lockdown measures now in place around much of the world.
Employers are temporarily closing offices, staff are working remotely (surrounded by their family and household members), some companies are functioning on a skeleton workforce, and many people have been furloughed for the foreseeable future.
However, this unusual time also provides the perfect opportunity to reassess priorities, modernize talents, learn a new language, take-up a hobby, or to upskill yourself.
Upskilling yourself might include refining and updating your expertise in a specific area, learning new soft skills to improve managerial techniques, or uncovering aspects of your own preferred learning styles and unconscious biases in order to expand your leadership qualities.
The following points show how upskilling yourself during lockdown is achievable, affordable and very worthwhile!
1. Find or Become a Mentor
Mentoring is one of the most beneficial things you can offer and receive.
If you find a mentor who is willing to guide and support you in your chosen area you’ll benefit from their insights, previous mistakes, and their years of experience.
Likewise, if you offer to mentor someone, you will meet new people, learn patience and empathy, improve your own leadership qualities, learn new approaches and techniques, and find novel problem solving solutions.
There are free online mentorships available from a variety of websites, or, alternatively, you can ask your firm if they would considering helping set you up with someone from inside the firm.
Mentoring can also be done remotely with the help of email, or video/call platforms such as, Skype or Zoom.
2. Learn a Language
The internet has made the world a much smaller place so communicating with colleagues, friends and associates from around the globe is now fast and efficient.
However, it isn’t always easy due to the language barrier and the unreliability of machine translations such as Google Translate.
Learning a new language is the ideal skill to add your existing CV as it is beneficial to many international firms. At the same time, it improves your memory, health and well-being, so firms will often select a bi-lingual applicant over a mono-lingual one.
If you are unsure which language to learn, do a little research about which countries your firm most frequently works with, or choose from one of the top 5 most spoken languages.
You can learn a new language via many websites, or through apps such as, Duolingo, some of them are even free for a certain period of time during the Covid-19 pandemic.
3. Learn Highly Prized Soft Skills
We spend years working towards specific educational goals, or ‘hard skills’, (for example, college exams, degrees, Masters, and so on) that it is often easy to overlook the benefit of soft skills and the value they can add to your employability.
Soft skills include talents such as:
• Managerial and Leadership skills
• Understanding Unconscious Bias
• Managing Relationships
These skills are valuable to employers as they encourage a responsible and reliable corporate culture which inspires employees to aim higher without fear of failure and judgement.
Leaders and managers who have a wide range of soft skills are often more approachable and dependable people, who motivate and enthuse their staff to be more productive and dynamic.
4. Continuous Professional Development and Technology
Every industry has been affected by developments in technology and the internet. Firms require employees that are IT confident, have an awareness of new technology, and are able to engage with professional development in these growth areas.
The future of cryptocurrencies, artificial intelligence and technology in general, will affect every industry so keeping ahead of the field is of vital importance to everyone.
Consider using the extra time at home to take an E-learning course on anti-money laundering, GDPR or cyber-security by brushing up on your IT or Finance and Compliance skills.
While completing all this additional learning, make sure you keep a record of what you have achieved and, where possible, obtain some formal documentation to show your successes. Don’t forget to add your new skills to your current CV and social profiles such as, LinkedIn, so that potential employers can access up-to-date information about you.