Are you graduating this summer and getting ready to look for a job soon? Job hunting, at the best of times, is no easy feat. And given the pandemic we’re living through, it’s become all the more difficult to navigate.

The future of the job market might be hard to predict, but one thing is certain: Work will never be the same again. Virtual work is here to stay. And jobs will dry up in some sectors. The International Labour Organization has warned of 25 million layoffs if the virus isn’t controlled. 

So if you are among those hunting for a job, look out for overall trends. And think about the behavioral changes that are likely to follow those trends. We’re talking about more permanent, structural changes to the way we live, work and play as predicted by KPMG in a report titled, ‘Potential Impact of COVID-19 on the Indian Economy’. 

The report says this pandemic is unique in that it is a supply, demand, and market shock. Shrinking production across nations implies limited inputs for companies and thereby pushes demand levels. At a behavioral level, we will witness protectionism and risk aversion by policymakers and decision-makers due to elevated uncertainty. 

Generally seen as a barrier to growth, risk aversion at such a time is probably one of the best approaches if we want to respond and not simply react to the looming crisis. 

However, we have to adopt agility in our approach. A report by Accenture, titled ‘COVID-19: 5 New Human Truths That Experiences Need To Address’, says the formula is to listen, pivot, learn, reassess. While this is from the perspective of an organization, job seekers can also adopt a similar approach in their preparation.

Let’s zoom in a little on the changes we are going to witness in the way we work and in the localization of businesses. While the recent shift to virtual work is by no means an ideal scenario, it is definitely proving to be an effective way to organize the workforce. 

The here to stay social distancing measures and uncertainty around the lockdown are making it an exercise in practice and also a realization that the future of work could, in fact, be omnichannel, seamless, and mode-agnostic. 

If the world is moving towards virtual work, it is likely that skills such as effective communication, building a personal brand as well as storytelling will become of utmost importance. It will be imperative to expand our networks and leverage social media to find opportunities. 

Focus your energies on nurturing strategic networks and honing your narrative in a way that helps you stand out among other job seekers. Constantly question what you know, do the necessary homework of reading and writing so you can form opinions that are backed by ample research. This not only helps in having meaningful conversations but also reflects the eagerness to reinvent yourself to stay relevant in changing times. 

Onto the next big change. Several news reports have started the conversation around how the coronavirus pandemic could effectively be the nail in the coffin for the current era of globalization. 

The crisis has highlighted the downside of extensive international integration and businesses are realizing the risks of relying on complex global supply chains. A recent report by Fortune magazine revealed 94% of the Fortune 1000 companies are already witnessing supply chain disruptions. 

While this disruption may be temporary, it is likely to have a lasting impact. We can expect the localization of many strategic businesses that are predominantly transparent in their transactions. Data will lie at the heart of the localization of businesses, facilitating transparency and scale. 

Akin to the national level emphasis on self-sufficiency, we as job seekers need to reevaluate our roles in this yet to be formed economy. Job seekers need to replicate this effort at a personal level by taking charge of their own learning and chart out opportunities that align well with these trends.  Social and emotional skills to keep in mind here are structuring problems, active listening, and establishing trust

The prominent themes from these changes (and predictions) are—self-reflection, preservation, and restoration. 

I often like to think of India as a person attempting to fight the crisis at hand, and like many of us, India too has an inner self. This inner self needs to be recognized and realized for it to put its best foot forward in this fight against the pandemic. 

To really stand out of the crowd, focus on building the right mindset, one that can withstand changes and not deter, simply because luck favors preparation. It’s safe to say the future of work is a lifestyle; there will be a push for more freedom, better work, more connections, better choices. All this within a technology-driven society that is self-sufficient and innovative. 

What this means is, you need to look out for opportunities in places where jobs don’t currently exist and be open to the possibilities. A practice that helps is to constantly read related job descriptions in your area of interest, and scope out a description for yourself which can help guide you in your job search.

Try and connect any trend you observe to an underlying behavior or cognitive skill, and work your way from there. These skills will go on to form the backbone of what we call the future of work.

Good luck with the job search. 

Rachika Komal is an Associate, Behavior Analytics with the Product Team at Harappa Education. Triple majors in Psychology, Sociology & Economics from Christ University, in her downtime you can find her hanging out with dogs, catching up on reading or meditating. 

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