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Guest Blog - Digital Upskilling for the Future

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Tom Jacobs Blog, Career Advice, Tips...

These are uncertain times, and it may well be a while before the world returns to any semblance of ‘business as usual’. And yet, although we aren’t in a state of normality, there are still many relatively normal things going on in the background. For one, people are still seeking and applying for new jobs.

It’s expected that many employers will be looking for candidates to have digital skills, especially as workplaces transition towards remote working for an indefinite period. Here, Tom Jacobs, Head of Advertising at marketing agency, Distract, explains how creating a new digital profile could well bolster candidate success in finding a new role.

For a long time now, the job market has been candidate-driven, meaning that employers are often fighting over the same limited and finite talent pool. This means not only are candidates often in the driving seat, they are also able to command more than just the best salary they can get.

Throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, we’ve seen a slight shift away from a candidate-driven market, towards one that favours employers much more, simply from the circumstances, we find ourselves in right now. But with what will likely be more people chasing the same roles from henceforth, how can candidates ensure that they really stand out from the crowd?

The answer primarily comes down to an ability to adapt to this ‘new normal’. Candidates will be expected to have developed skills that can easily be applied to the current situation, especially where employees are expected to collaborate not in person like they’re used to, but by using digital services such as Microsoft Teams, Slack and Zoom. Those untrained or not used to this kind of technology will have to learn quickly to be at an advantage.

For candidates to stand the best chance of progressing through an interview, it’s best that they are well prepared and equipped with answers to questions about why they’re the best hire in these strange times. Are you well prepared for working independently? Are you effective at managing your time? Are you a fast learner? While all of these questions are important in any interview, they’re especially critical while the majority of employees are home working.

If there’s one thing that we’ve learned throughout this pandemic, it’s that the transition to home-working is not easy for everyone. While some enjoy the freedom from office pressures, others struggle to focus on what is usually their sanctuary away from the office.

Candidates looking for new work, however, need to be prepared that home working could be a new normal for their job role. Some UK businesses may never return to office life, perhaps preferring to forgo physical contact and expensive office leases for a cheaper and leaner business based around remote working. Candidates must be prepared for that.

All of this might sound like a lot of learning new tricks, but candidates must also be aware of the skills that they already possess and how transferable skills are more important than ever.

Independent working as a skill has never been more important to an employer who has to depend on the capacity of their staff to work solo, without supervision from a manager. Candidates who are proficient on the phone will gain an advantage over those who tend to shy away and prefer physical meetings. For now, perhaps the introverts are in demand?

Training is also a real possibility for those under lockdown or even furlough. While maintaining personal physical fitness and good mental health, this could well be time for many who have harboured ambitions to progress to shine.

The sheer amount of resources available online, some free of charge, could well mean you can learn a new skill, or hone existing ones to make yourself more desirable to an employer or to reach the next level of your career. While many feel pressured by the uncertainty and the somewhat limited nature of the pandemic, others are able to rise above this and reach new peaks of knowledge and skills.

Whichever way you look at it, we’re likely to be in this situation for some time, where remote working is the chosen strategy. For candidates, this means digital skills are a necessity for the vast majority of professional roles. With the future of work so uncertain, we’ll have to wait and see what comes next.

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Thank you to our guest blogger, Tom, for sharing his insights and expertise.