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Learning new skills in Covid-19 crisis will pay off

Covid-19 has affected our livelihoods to a large extent.

The writer, who landed jobs in two economic crises, urges the public to learn new skills during the Covid-19 outbreak.

The writer, who landed jobs in two economic crises, urges the public to learn new skills during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Covid-19 has affected our livelihoods to a large extent.

While those in essential services continue to work, some of us have seen a huge drop in our earnings or have started looking for new opportunities.

Landing a job is challenging even during economic booms. During this pandemic and the unfolding recession, a successful career transition may seem a pipe dream.

In addition, when the very thing that is most effective in job search — networking — is hampered owing to social distancing, it can leave you feeling helpless.

But if you are making a career change in these extraordinary times, my experience could be an encouragement.

I secured two jobs during two economic crises. By managing your expectations, staying open to temporary offers and developing new skills, you can still make a career transition despite the unfavourable economy.

I changed jobs in late 2010 when the world was transiting from the subprime mortgage crisis to the European debt crisis. As a classroom teacher for almost six years, a postgraduate diploma in education was my highest qualification.

I wanted to move into a new industry while I was still in my 30s. Unfortunately, I underestimated the impact of both crises on the job market in the region.

Despite my scholarship accolade in my resume, I had no success with my job search for months. I learnt quickly from my first few interviews that relevant job experience matters.

But how was I to acquire job experience without a job?

I reviewed my expectations and had to be patient. At that time, I exercised, read up on careers and industries that I wanted to explore and stayed at home to save costs. Fortunately, I accumulated some savings and a modest portfolio to help pay my housing loan and daily expenses.

Half a year later, I was offered a one-year contract role. Although I had to take a slight pay cut given the lack of relevant work experience, I took up the offer anyway in view of the frail economy.

After the contract ended in mid-2012, I signed up for an advanced certificate programme, a postgraduate diploma and a couple of short courses to prepare myself for my next job. The global economy was then in the second year of the decade-long European sovereign debt crisis.

For the second time, I was between jobs during a global economic downturn. To my surprise, someone whom I met in a workshop offered me projects. By late 2012, I was a full-time employee.

While it is stressful to be between jobs during tough times, take this season to sharpen your skills or develop new ones. Even when you are at a loss for what to do, enrolling yourself in a formal programme aligned with your dream career is a good start. One thing will often lead to the next.


Alvin Sim works in asset and wealth management at a global bank.

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Jobs skills Covid-19 coronavirus

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