By Tiffany Wong, Director, Robert Walters Hong Kong
The world has changed since COVID-19 first erupted – businesses have acted quickly to mitigate the risk of spreading the virus. As a non-tech professional, whether your job has been affected, this crisis presents a good opportunity to take a hard look at yourself – your strengths, skills, passions, and goals – and in turn, revisit your career journey. Where did you come from, where are you now, and where should you head to next?
Questions to help you identify areas for upskilling
Now is a good chance to not only re-evaluate your current career direction, but also implement concrete actions to upskill yourself. Doing so will not only ensure you emerge from this crisis better equipped with the necessary skills to make the most of any opportunity, it will allow you to take further steps on your career trajectory. Keeping your long-term career goals in mind, here are some questions to help you identify the relevant areas for upskilling during these times of uncertainty:
1. What am I interested in learning more about?
Getting started can be the toughest part of any journey, so it is good to begin with something you have always been interested in. Perhaps you are an HR professional with a strong interest in coding but never had the opportunity to learn it; or you might be interested in public speaking even though your job doesn’t require you to do so. List all the areas you have an interest in and conduct an online search to find the resources which you can leverage. Start with something that calls out to you – this can be a course, workshop, webinar, or podcast.
2. What will make me shine at work?
Now that you have gotten started, keep the momentum going. For many, the best way to do so is to learn something that is directly relevant to your work, so you can easily see the immediate payoffs of your efforts. Identify the areas of your work which you are already good at, explore what will make you stand out further, and focus your efforts on elevating yourself in these areas. For a content marketer, this could mean brushing up and keeping updated on the latest SEO and SEM trends to ensure your content is not only engaging, but is also reaching the right target audiences.
3. What will make me feel less frustrated at work?
Upskilling doesn’t just have to be about learning new things – it can be about re-learning the basics too. Tackle the aspects of your work that you struggle with by taking some time to ponder what frustrates you the most every day. Is it your overflowing inbox, or your ever-growing to do list? Is it spending large amounts of time on tedious administrative tasks, or perhaps communicating effectively with others? Once you have identified the ‘weak links’ in your daily work life, find ways to improve in these areas.
Resources for upskilling
After establishing a clearer understanding of yourself and your career journey, and identifying the areas for upskilling, it is time to explore the resources that will help you gear up. The almost limitless wealth of learning resources available online can make eyes glaze over with indecision. To help you get a head start in improving yourself on the personal and career levels, we have put together a selection of upskilling resources for you to easily tap into.
1. Online courses
Undertaking professional development e-learning classes is one of the most direct and simplest ways to upskill yourself. Besides Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), top-tier universities have dedicated sections on their own sites to list free, available online modules for anyone willing to learn. Looking for targeted or platform-specific learning? Try out Microsoft Learn or Facebook Blueprint. Other portals such as LinkedIn Learning and Google Digital Garage aggregate a whole host of both in-house and external courses for you to choose from. The beauty of signing up for online courses is that there is no mandatory commitment on the extent of participation. On the other hand, if you are seeking an in-depth professional certification to boost your career, you can choose to register for paid courses. Check with your supervisor if your company has a training budget which can be utilised. These will allow you to enrol in different linked modules, actively participate in in-class activities, exercises, and tests with human feedback, and eventually receive a certified stamp of approval from a recognised university or course provider. It all depends on your learning interests and requirements.
2. Career advice
If you are looking for career-specific actions that can be implemented right from the start, why not take a look at relevant career advice articles? From government resources to popular business magazines, these sources all offer to keep you abreast of the latest industry trends and happenings while providing key career boosting insights. Why not start preparing yourself for a new role in post-COVID times? Easy and quick first steps such as taking the time to update and review your CV, polish your LinkedIn profile, craft an excellent personal statement, and practise your interview skills can help better position yourself for new and greater opportunities when the market recovers.
3. Visual and auditory add-ons
Sometimes we just don’t want to be staring at yet another long page of text. Take a break and switch to other digital tools and platforms for your learning needs. Check out popular webinars, hop into various live sessions hosted by career coaches, join in a conversation and network with other professionals in online social media groups, or listen to your favourite topical podcasts and talks. The upside of using these platforms is that almost all of them are bite-sized and available on your mobile, so you can literally upskill on the go, even if that means doing so while you are exercising, taking care of your kids, or just relaxing in a bath.
4. Personal wellbeing
Levelling up doesn’t have to be only about your professional growth. It pays off to devote time to boost your own physical, emotional, and mental health as well. Besides your usual routine, why not take up activities that you have always wanted to try. Focus on regular exercising, be it yoga at home or a short run outdoors. Eat healthily and consistently – take
a full break away from your work during scheduled mealtimes. Stick to your planned work hours and stay away from work during your downtime. We encourage non-tech professionals to make full use of the pockets of time available during this period of social distancing to recharge themselves, refresh their career plans, and hone their craft for better days ahead. Even as we are forced to adapt to new ways of living and working, we can always regain control of our lives and careers by rediscovering and upskilling ourselves.