No one can predict when the pandemic will be “over” or how long it will take for the economy and the job prospects it creates to take shape. But one can say with confidence that it will be longer than we all wish, and that many things will be different from they way things were B.C.—before Covid-19. Despite this uncertainty, there are things job seekers can be thinking about now to position themselves for what comes next.
How you have met past challenges has gotten your career this far. You have every reason to believe those same qualities can get you through this current crisis. Job descriptions necessarily focus on technical skills, but the final cut in many hiring decisions is based on observed qualities of character. This is now more important than ever: how you approach and solve problems; how you act under pressure, or at a time—like now—when there is no play book, no operating manual to consult. With Black Swan moments recurring at least once a decade, qualities of resilience, adaptability, tolerance for ambiguity, and decision-making guided by evidence and expert opinion will be important ways to distinguish yourself from other candidates with comparable technical skills.
Show, Don’t Tell
Take time to build an inventory of stories that demonstrate these qualities to a potential employer. People remember stories. That is how human knowledge has been transmitted for millennia. CRC refers to these stories as SARs—Situation-Action-Result. You may have SARs that are not strictly business-based, but illustrate your tenacity, commitment, willingness to go the extra mile, find a creative solution. You may discover qualities about yourself that you were not aware of or at that did not think applied to your professional life. How you have dealt with some of these challenges in the past—or even now while we are in the midst of unprecedented uncertainty—can provide a memorable story that can truly set you apart from other candidates.
Think Creatively About Change
Employees who can help navigate the uncharted waters ahead will be in demand. Practice thinking about the future, how your previous or current job, your organization, your industry, might change. The challenges, opportunities, how work gets done. Read what specialists are writing about the future in respected business publications like the Wall Street Journal, Crain’s Chicago Business, or publications focused on your industry. Reading gives you time to reflect, react, and come up with your own ideas about adapting to the new future. That exercise will help you appear more insightful to employers who themselves are navigating the heightened uncertainty we face. And that can set you apart.
- Rich Jones, CRC Advisor and Board Member