To say COVID-19 has turned the business world upside down is an understatement. From pivoting to remote work to facing abrupt career setbacks, we are navigating turbulent waters.
But as the famous Franklin D. Roosevelt quote goes, a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor. There are crucial career skills that can help you not only survive the current storm, but also learn to thrive in it and emerge stronger and better.
We’ve asked Roy Cohen, career coach and best-selling author of “The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide,” for his insights on the career skills that are super important right now.
Master the competencies below and you’ll be equipped with evergreen expertise that will help you face even the most volatile or brutally competitive scenarios with grace.
Cohen says adaptability is not so much a career skill but a general life strategy: “In a world where change is happening at a pace faster than ever before, we all need to be willing, able, and even excited to change course without feeling shortchanged or angry. If our goal is to remain relevant professionally we have no choice. Either we learn to pivot with passion or we risk becoming dinosaurs.”
So, how enthusiastic are you about rolling with the punches? Are you able to quickly pivot without being too attached to the original plan? Do you find yourself dwelling on what could have been? Take an honest look at how adaptable you tend to be and learn how to enjoy change.
Focusing on the things you can control supports your ability to continuously adapt to the ever-changing world around you. That includes habits and routines as well as your physical environment. Organization is a must-have career skill that makes the process of dealing with unexpected changes much smoother. “When you keep track of the details and maintain records and files, it is a lot easier to pivot,” says Cohen.
From using project management tools to organizing your Google Drive, practice the art of keeping your work stuff streamlined.
“Technology is key and the world in which we work is irreversibly driven by innovation. The more you know, the better off you will be. Even if your role is not directly technology-focused, you at least need to show you can thrive in a technology based environment so you don’t risk being viewed as a dinosaur,” says Cohen.
Whether you’ve been putting off the adoption of a new app or you’re looking to refine your knowledge of the platforms your company uses, now is a perfect time to expand your technological horizons. Remote work has only made it more imperative to do so.
Being solution-oriented is a skill that will always serve you in your career, regardless of your job situation or industry.
“We must all be solution-oriented to remain valuable as employees and, for those of us in job search, to distinguish ourselves from all the other candidates. Companies will hire and promote you when you make a difference. It is not simply confidence that gets you hired and promoted nowadays. It is demonstrating real measurable value as well as the ability to figure out how to make your job and the company operate better and to achieve greater prosperity,” says Cohen.
Self-sufficiency is more important than ever, as you may not have the same level of access to your usual resources and are lacking physical proximity to your colleagues yet still need to remain effective.
“The new normal will likely mean that many of us will be working remotely. We simply won’t have access to many of the resources and tools we had before. We need to be able to demonstrate that we are resourceful and that we can perform our jobs independently while still collaborating with our colleagues.”
If you are in the process of applying for jobs or hunting for clients, don’t despair. The Coronavirus pandemic has greatly affected a lot of business operations, and it might take more time than usual to hear back from potential employers or leads. So it’s the perfect opportunity to practice patience, a skill to fall back on in the face of circumstances you can’t control. “It will take longer for companies to reach a decision,” says Cohen. “They will get back to you. It will just take a lot longer to manage the logistics involved in coordinating interviews, feedback, and an official offer.”
The pandemic has also affected the job market and the way negotiations are taking place. It’s important to remember that in this climate, more flexibility might be required.
“When it comes to negotiating a new job be careful not to steamroll the process. In this market and for the indefinite future you will have far less latitude to draw a line in the sand with respect to items to negotiate. If you don’t like the terms, either it’s the wrong job or you have not done your homework. Besides, there may be plenty of other candidates the company can turn to if you appear dissatisfied,” says Cohen.
“Make sure you periodically evaluate where you are professionally, what you want, the professional landscape, and what you need to do to stay whole,” says Cohen.
Take the time for regular career check-ins with yourself. Assess what you need in order to grow and reach your goals. From attending conferences to chatting with mentors and from taking online courses to asking for more responsibilities at work, investing in your professional development is a timeless career skill — and those who have mastered it are having an easier time dealing with the current crisis.