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pandemic careers

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The U.S. lost 22 million jobs to the pandemic. As of early August, roughly 42 percent of those had been recovered. But the pandemic also resulted in the creation of a few new jobs. Covid-19 tester. Temperature screener. Video platform support specialist. These were not jobs you heard of before the pandemic.

Among the carnage, if you look closely, there are a few who actually benefited from this disaster. Those who get ahead always know what skills to cultivate, advance, and advertise, depending on the current market. They follow industry trends. They see where things are headed. The problem is that nobody saw the world headed into this pandemic. And though it’s strange to talk about the pandemic as a type of “market,” it is. Whatever is going on in world news impacts nearly every industry.

You might recall during the first few months of this thing, Clorox and other major cleaning supply companies couldn’t restock shelves at the rate at which people were emptying them. Zoom, which was a platform people were barely using before the pandemic, saw millions download it in a hurry. While there has been a time of mourning for many, now might be the time to brush your shoulders off and look around at what the world is now. Where do you fit in? Where do your skills fit in? Is it time to learn something new? We spoke with Keirsten Greggs, founder of TRAP Recruiter, about how people can cultivate their skills during the pandemic.


Keirsten Greggs

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Update that resume

Greggs says this is a great time to update your resume. You may have nothing but free time to do so, so look it over, and add those accomplishments that you haven’t yet added. If you’ve taken any webinars during this pandemic, learned new skills or became more advanced in another, make sure that’s on your resume. If you have taken this time to do some volunteer work, add that. If it’s been particularly faith-related, we cover how to add that to a resume, here.

pandemic careers

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Take online courses

“If you’ve been furloughed, you can take free training online,” says Greggs, adding that many organizations are offering free training sessions. Certain organizations that offer massive open online classes have seen a surge as big as over 600 percent during the pandemic, as compared to last year. If you respond well to a little competition, maybe that figure will motivate you to catch up with your peers.

pandemic careers

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See what your local college offers

Perhaps it’s time to stop recycling that big book your local community college mails you. “In a lot of communities, community colleges send thick books with all of their free courses. Take advantage of those things,” advises Greggs. You don’t need to go overboard, though. “Nobody should feel an obligation like they didn’t maximize this time if they didn’t write a book or take 10 classes and get 14 degrees. For some, this is a much needed time of settling, resetting, and reprioritizing.”

pandemic careers

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Learn, just for you

“Learn something that’s just for you, that’s part of your passion,” suggests Greggs. “Learn to bake bread, learn to garden…do something for yourself. It doesn’t necessarily have to be job-related. Not all skills contribute to your vocation. Some make you more well-rounded.” Greggs also says you never know when one of those passion skills will pertain to your vocation. We listed some possible skills to learn online, here.

pandemic careers

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Improve time management skills

One skill Greggs says she sees overlooked is time management. “Learning how to manage your time all on your own, exclusive from your team. Exclusive from your leader. Maybe you are a hiring manager or you are a leader in an organization. You need to prioritize your time and how you manage it. You may need to read a book. Or take a class.” You don’t have the focused environment of a commercial office now. There will be distractions. It can make you stronger to learn how to get your work done, within those. We cover tips on how to get better at time management, here.


The pressure to do it all right now

People are feeling pressure to be productive during this time. If you’re finding mixed results, that’s likely because the remote working environment produces mixed results. One TED Talk covering a study of remote workers claims remote workers get more done than those who go into an office. But a different study finds that only some tasks are best done at home, but some at the office. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you aren’t developing the next ground-breaking app or becoming the next Shakespeare during this time.

pandemic careers

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Some specific skills to learn

Greggs did list a few career-related skills that could be particularly useful to learn right now. “Become an advanced Excel user. [Learn] introduction to web development or software engineering or cloud computing.” Many of the companies listed on Glass Door as seeing a “hiring surge” during the pandemic are software or software-related companies including Grammarly and AppDynamics.

pandemic careers

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If you’re happy where you are

Perhaps you don’t want to leave your company, but you’d like to make a move within it. “Maybe you’re interested in a position inside your company. You need to take a class to get to that next position. And give you a reason to update your resume,” says Greggs. Ask your supervisor or the person responsible for hiring for that position what skills are required for it.

pandemic careers

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But if you do want to leave…

If you are considering leaving one job for another, Greggs says you may be in the best position. “Research other companies. You could be fully engaged in a job search [while you’re employed]. Most of the best employees are already employed. They are the ‘passive job seeker.’” The best time to find a job can be when you already have one, as you aren’t desperate, so you can search with a clear head.

pandemic careers

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A glimpse into the future

There are industries that naturally saw a rise during the pandemic. However, their boom might be related to the temporary conditions of a quarantine. Meanwhile, there are some industries that might continue to rise even after the quarantines come to an end. Those are the ones related to the more permanent changes this pandemic may bring. Forbes lists a handful of companies that have done exceedingly well during the pandemic. A few are circumstantial, but others, like streaming services and remote workplace solutions software, could continue to rise. That could be useful data to keep in mind when selecting which online courses to take.

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