How to grow professionally while in quarantine
With the whole world "on hold", now is a good opportunity to prepare for what lies after the quarantine, when the boundaries will reopen and face-to-face meetings are, once again, allowed and welcome. Think of this current "free time" as a gift, a moment for ourselves that we're hard-pressed to find in our regular lives.
So how can we make most of this time spent locked up in our homes, with seemingly nothing to do? Below are 10 tips on what you can do to grow professionally, while in quarantine.
1. Make your "unique value proposition" clear
First things first, work out what it is you have to offer. When looking for a job, it is essential to be aware of why a company should hire you. Remember that no one hires just “nice guys”, but rather, professionals who help solve particular problems.
It is therefore crucial to find those strengths of yours, which will be of interest to your potential employer: what sets you apart from the rest (your "unique value proposition"), and what you want to "sell". Just saying you have “10 years of experience in the field” doesn’t answer the question of why a company should hire you.
2. Update your master CV and cover letter
There is no universally-perfect CV, as it is something that has to be adapted and optimised for each position. However, it is always good to have a “master CV”, that demonstrates your highest skills and qualifications. This will save you a lot of time when applying to multiple jobs, as you can "cherry-pick" the sections that are relevant to each specific position.
When updating your resume, it is important to think not only of the duties you performed at work but also of what potential employers might expect from you. Pro tip: check out the job adverts you are interested in as a base to work from.
3. Map the companies you may be interested in later
The most common strategy when looking for a job is to send out hundreds of standard CVs and to wait for someone to answer. However, despite its popularity, this is one of the least efficient strategies you can use. Before sending out your CV, you should make sure you're aware of what kind of industries and companies you're targeting and your reasons for doing so.
This will allow you to optimise your CV and cover letter for a particular role, and also prepare better for an interview. The more you know about the market you are going to work in, the higher your chances of getting the job.
4. Optimise your LinkedIn and Xing profiles.
If you are not on one of these business networks, you are invisible to the market. If you want to ensure that, while you're looking for a job, the job is also looking for you, make your profiles outstanding, leveraging your value to your potential employer.
5. Get some recommendations
Now is a good time to ask for recommendations on professional social media (you could offer to write some yourself in return). When a recruiter sees a recommendation (especially online), they have more trust in your qualifications, as it is very difficult to make a proper judgment based only on a candidate’s profile.
Therefore, you can make their job easier and give yourself an advantage by getting yourself some recommendations on professional social media, and even writing some yourself. It is essential to be proactive in online networking.
6. Prepare and rehearse your elevator pitch
The most common question you will be asked during any interview is “can you tell me a bit about yourself?” Begin this answer with a country of origin, number of children or number of years of experience, and you waste an opportunity to demonstrate your value.
Instead, think of your “unique value proposition” (as discussed above) and practice explaining it in one to two minutes, bearing in mind your employer's priorities.
7. Prepare for standard interview questions
If you haven't prepared them in advance, it is difficult to provide real-life examples when answering behavioural questions during interviews. In order to rock the interview, it is crucial to demonstrate your experience by providing “stories” from the past. For this, you can use the STAR and CARL techniques of answering interview questions.
8. Sign up for an online course
Invest in your future by learning new things in an online course. Try Lynda (now known as LinkedIn Learning), Coursera and edX to find courses on topics that make a difference in your field. This is especially important if you want to start working in a new field or industry.
9. Build your development strategy
If you're not sure about what you want to do in five years, or you're hesitant about your job search strategy and tactics, a career consultant can help by answering your questions and providing you with the best practices and tools to achieve your goals faster. Sometimes having honest feedback on your application or career aspirations is all you need to improve your search.
10. Start a professional blog
While facing huge competition in the market, one way to demonstrate your skills is by maintaining a blog. This shows your expertise on the topic, the way you think, and the way you articulate your ideas. The professional blog is one of the most efficient ways to establish your personal professional brand, which will ultimately boost your career in the future.