I am writing from a place of privilege, providence, and a pedestal of good fortune but I just feel sad when I open LinkedIn nowadays. The feed is full of people writing about their untimely exit from their jobs due to the ongoing pandemic. I am not an expert to give any advice to people who were working till March/April but not working anymore. The times are unprecedented and until we get a fully functional vaccine, chances of normalcy are bleak. So, we must keep trying, is all I can say.
However, I do have a word or two for Freshers who had job offers but they haven’t been called to report yet, or even if they hadn’t, they were ready to enter the professional arena this year but things have gone upside down, for no fault of their own. I do have empathy with them as I was in the same boat around 2008. I don’t want to mince words but the reality is simple: this time is worse than that time. I have stated this earlier on this blog too that I had 2 Job Offers when I graduated as a Computer Science Engineer. Thanks to the 2008 recession which did all it could to crush my confidence, I had to wait 21 months to get a proper job I preferred. Again being lucky, I got back the job offer in March 2010 from the same company which had sent me a regret letter before imploding due to a financial crisis of their own in early 2009.
Any advice in these times feels like a cacophony. But if someone who has been through what you are going through, it is not too bad to listen. Here are some lessons I learned at that time which might help folks who are eager to initiate their careers in these times:
Accept the Reality
Understand that it didn’t happen with just you. It happened with everyone. Deal with this and create short term plans and work on them. By Short Term, I mean, take 2 months at a time. Think of what you can do in the next 2 months to make yourself employable and stand out from the rest of people like you. If you can, enroll in further studies. That would save you an immense amount of time in life later that you cannot even imagine. I know the urge of finishing studying and waiting for the first paycheck. But if you show patience and invest your time in studying further, it is not going to go waste. If you cannot invest money, there are so many free or inexpensive courses online, that you should and must go through.
If you are getting any job offer, maybe way below your skill level or not paying you much, I am of the opinion that you should still take it. For me, it is always better to be working than waiting for the ‘perfect’ one. I won’t say compromise but think of it as a stepping stone for better things. When I was jobless, I took up a job in a small company that had just 5-6 people. My job was to crop images all day long or sometimes copy-paste data into excel. But in the same job, I got a chance to learn so many things that actually helped me in the future. I also got some opportunities to learn skills to be a professional, and some tools that helped me later. Read the next point.
Work on your hobbies
Of course, you don’t have to spend the whole day only studying or job searching. If you have a hobby or a skill totally unrelated to work, hone it. I am a prime example of it. When I was working at the supposedly small company, I learned some design tools like CorelDraw and Adobe Illustrator. 5 years later, I was making Minimal Movie Posters and getting some extra money and fame. Whatever you like to do, become better at it. If you have no skill, learn something you wanted to learn. Create things, and try to avoid Consuming things. Avoid jealousy-inducing tools Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Spend more time on reading.
<Right now, in these times, I don’t want to indulge in legalities by talking about tiktok, if you know what I mean>
Read this: https://www.madisonfischer.com/madison-fischer-blog/why-ditching-instagram-earned-me-the-podium
Easier said than done. Nobody can get into your head and make you feel better anyhow. You might be spending hours and hours on websites like LinkedIn and Naukri. People who comment ‘Better reach‘ on your ‘Available for opportunities‘ posts can do only that much. I was appalled at people’s indifference when I was searching for the job myself. People accept your CV but don’t really forward it. It requires reminding them 10 times to click that forward button. So, you cannot blame them because they really want to help you but only a handful of people actually make an effort for you. But you should not shy away from reminding people one more time, who said that they will help you. Building connections now will be good in the long term.
Frankly, I am no Motivational Speaker or this blog is no place for giving career advice. But I know so many people who would be looking forward to joining the workforce. Thus, I am just sharing what I could say. I did some mistakes when I graduated and the Economy Collapsed rendering me jobless. Like first blaming Lehman Brothers for all the mess, whining over the Photoshop job, and seeing nobody helping me when they know I am looking for a job desperately. But in reality, we have to keep trying, and trying, and trying.
Let me end this with the most cliche quote of all times:
Tough times don’t last, tough people do.
Header Photo AttributionMedical vector created by freepik – www.freepik.com