Building your skillset can be the key to standing out in a post-pandemic world.
There’s no doubt COVID-19 has changed the job search landscape for new grads. According to Forbes, online companies, including tech companies and services, will be some of the “big winners” in the post-COVID job market. If it’s an industry that can thrive in the digital realm, chances are you’ll find open positions.
What does it take to catch the attention of recruiters in these industries? You need to be ready to demonstrate relevant skills that translate to success for you and the companies you want to work for.
What skills do companies want post-COVID?
If you’re a new grad trying to land a position, you’re probably wondering, “How can I succeed in the post-COVID job market?”
Sure, you can spruce up your resume and get a really snazzy headshot on your LinkedIn profile, but what’s really going to make you stand out are the skills you can bring to the table.
Some key skills college grads need to compete in the new hiring landscape
How can I update my skills as a new grad?
You’re probably not going to want to hear the answer to this one, especially since you just got out of school. The way to expand your skillset is to keep learning.
If you thought you were done with studying, sorry to burst your bubble. But to succeed in a post-COVID job market — or at any job, any time — you always need to seek out new knowledge.
Here are five ways to get started (some of them are fun!).
Perform a personal SWOT analysis
SWOT stands for:
If you’ve never analyzed these before, you could be in for a real eye-opener.
Start with your strengths. Look at what you’re good at and where you excel in the light of the job market after COVID-19. What makes you stand out from other new grads looking for positions?
Now the cringe-worthy part: weaknesses. What aren’t you good at? What do you outright stink at? What job duties make you want to run in the other direction? (Be honest here. You can’t grow if you don’t face up to your shortcomings!)
Opportunities can be obvious, such as open positions for which you’re qualified. They can also be a little more subtle — like gaps in the industry you can address with your skills and ideas. Whatever stands in the way of your taking advantage of these opportunities counts as a threat.
MindTools has a great article and some resources to walk you through your SWOT analysis. Keep the results handy — they’ll help you focus your skill-building activities on the most valuable areas.
Read everything, all the time
Turning your weaknesses into strengths can be as simple as learning from:
Look for the latest publications in industries that are thriving during COVID-19. Sign up for email lists. Devour relevant information during every spare minute.
But don’t stop there. Talk about what you learn, and share it with others in your network. The ability to articulate new information in a way that makes sense is just as critical as the act of learning!
Watch, listen and apply
COVID-19 has sparked an explosion of online content consumption among younger generations. Fifty-one percent of Gen Z and 44% of millennials are watching more online videos, live streams are grabbing both groups’ attention.
Of course, spending your extra media time watching goofy videos on TikTok isn’t going to help you in the post-COVID job market. You’re much better off participating in online workshops related to skills you want to build, attending webinars featuring knowledgeable industry leaders, or checking out podcasts like this one from SDS on how to develop a success-oriented mindset.
Looking for something specific? Check out training and how-to videos for tools and software commonly used in the industries where you’re looking for a job. Going into an interview with a solid grasp of how these platforms work makes you a more desirable candidate than the guy who needs weeks of training before he can get started.
Brush up on public speaking
Did your SWOT analysis remind you just how bad you are at public speaking? Don’t worry; most people need some help in this area, and a Toastmasters club is one of the best places to get it.
Toastmasters is an international non-profit dedicated to building members’ public speaking and leadership skills. There are clubs literally all over the world, so you should be able to find something local. Under normal circumstances, meetings are held in person and are open to visitors. Clubs have moved meetings to digital formats, for now, so check with the president of the club you’re interested in to find out how to participate.
Communication skills are particularly important in customer service and sales settings. If either is on your radar for a post-COVID career, Toastmasters is a must.
Starting your very own podcast is also a great way to practice prospecting, and public speaking, not to mention you will be growing your network in the process. Tools like Anchor.fm have never made it easier to start your very own podcast.
Sign up for — and actually take — online courses
Before you groan and write off the idea of more studying, go back and take a look at your SWOT analysis. Remember those weaknesses you were cringing over? Let them be your motivation to sign up for and stick with online courses.
You need more than good intentions here. It’s one thing to scour the web for skill-building educational material and vow to apply yourself no matter what — and quite another to actually do it.
Swap those good intentions for intentionality. Narrow your search to courses relating directly to skills you want to acquire or improve, and get ready to buckle down and study.
A few places to start your search:
Companies in specific industries can be good sources for educational course content, too. Check out websites and social media feeds to find options like sales career training from SDS.
How will this help me succeed in the post-COVID job market?
Remember: These are ongoing learning activities. Make them part of your regular routine, and add any certifications or credits you get to your resume to show recruiters you’re crushing it with continuing education.
It is worth the time. COVID-19 hasn’t caused a universal jobpocalypse. You can land a great position in the post-COVID job market if you dedicate yourself to building relevant skills. When recruiters compare your qualifications to the other guy who spent his quarantine time sitting on the couch, eating chips and watching that dude who sang a bunch of COVID-themed Disney songs, guess who’s going to stand out?
How are you keeping your skills current? Is there anywhere you’re struggling? Let us know in the comments!