Joey Lim is the vice president of commercial for Lark in Asia, a digital solutions company. She currently leads a team of sales professionals, helping customers enhance their internal work and transformation processes. She has been part of the cloud computing wave since 2007. Any extracts should be attributed back to the author. 10 September 2020.
The COVID-19 crisis has dealt a significant blow to Singapore, one that experts predict will take the economy years to recover.
As companies struggle to keep afloat amidst the economic fallout, many employees are finding themselves facing retrenchment.
However, there is good news: While some industries have taken a hit from the pandemic, others are thriving due to the shift to digital.
JobStreet.com recently revealed there are at least 33,000 job vacancies in Singapore today. Among the top sectors actively hiring include education, banking and finance, and computing and information technology – most of which are remote positions.
If you’re a job seeker looking to move into any of these growing industries, here are some tips to help you navigate the current employment landscape and land your next work-from-home role.
Be Open to New Ways of Working
The workplace as we once knew it has changed and shifted online. Hence, embracing digitalisation is now more important than ever.
Being comfortable with today’s digital tools, understanding video conferencing etiquette, and learning to co-develop ideas with others on shared documents and sheets are just some of the remote working skills that job seekers need to have today.
On top of these hard skills, employers also look out for certain soft skills or qualities that are important when working in remote teams.
Being adaptable to new ways of working, sudden changes and unexpected situations is a key quality in today’s unpredictable landscape.
To stand out in your application, highlight these soft skills and provide instances of how you’ve exemplified these qualities in your previous roles.
If you’re applying for a leadership position, demonstrate your understanding of the current climate and explain how you would manage remote teams.
For example, you could mention that you value empathy and flexibility more than efficiency during this period when many are juggling added household responsibilities while working from home.
You could even go a step further and share ideas on how you would add that human element to remote working, such as organising regular social calls or gifting food delivery vouchers to make others feel supported.
Understand Communication Differences Across Generations
Digital collaboration can also highlight generational differences in communication, which may not be as obvious as when teams are together in the office.
Different generations tend to interpret written communications differently, which can lead to conflict.
For example, older generations use an ellipsis, or “…” at the end of the sentence to indicate a loss of thought. However, younger generations tend to see this as a passive-aggressive power play.
Moreover, younger generations frequently use emojis to convey emotions or soften their messages and view the older generations’ direct and emoji-free responses as curt or unfriendly.
The communication channel also matters. Gen X was the earliest adopter of email and is thus most comfortable with this form of communication.
However, Millennials and Gen Z grew up with smartphones and lightning-fast internet speeds. As a result, they much prefer sending and receiving text or instant messages. They also expect a fast response from the other party.
Thus, learning how to navigate these generational divides can go a long way in easing communication between generations in the workplace.
Retrain and Upskill for Today’s Needs
As Singapore moves towards becoming a smart nation, it is important to upgrade your skills to stay competitive and in-demand.
For those looking to break into a different industry, upskilling and retraining are necessary. To gain an edge over your competition, look beyond the job scope you’re gunning for and consider building complementary skill sets that would add value to your role.
This is personally something I look for when hiring new members on my sales team.
While industry-recognised sales certifications are great, having additional relevant skills such as digital marketing or data analytics can help differentiate a candidate from the rest. Employers often strive to diversify the talent on the team, and this will surely increase your chances of getting shortlisted.
If your circumstances permit, take the extra time you have now to attend training and get certified. The Singapore government is a strong advocate of lifelong learning and provides SkillsFuture credits for citizens to participate in all types of courses.
If you’re unsure of how to plan your next move, you can also visit any of the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Centres established at community centres across Singapore, where expert coaches will provide tailored support and advice.
Master the Art of Remote Interviews
Now that you’ve got the skills, it’s time to prepare for the interview. Interviewing for a job is stressful under normal circumstances.
However, candidates now have the added pressure of convincing their future employers they have the right experience and personality for the job via a call or video. There is a greater need to master the art of passing online interviews as remote workplaces and work-from-home arrangements become the new norm.
I find that getting yourself familiar with the technology that will be used can help to ease anxieties. Many employers will share the dial-in number or link to the video conferencing tool beforehand.
Take this opportunity to test the platform and practice answering interview questions with your video camera on.
You can even record yourself to observe your facial expressions and body language and rehearse how to appear more confident. The worst-case scenario is to log on to your interview only to face a list of technical issues or feel awkward talking to a computer screen.
Equally important is to find a quiet room, preferably with a clean background. Just like any meeting, you want to make sure that you are in a place with no noise or visual distractions.
The last thing you want to be worried about is your dog barking or showing that inappropriate poster in your bedroom to your future employer. Some popular video conferencing platforms also now provide the option of using a virtual background, and if you do use one, ensure that it is simple and not distracting.
Stay Resilient and Positive
Above all, the most important tip for job seekers is to stay positive and resilient in the hunt for their next job.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought anxiety to many. When coupled with the pressure of securing a job, the stress can be overwhelming for some.
Remember to take regular breaks in between your job applications, and make time to do things that you enjoy, such as exercising, reading a book or going for a stroll.
You can also take this opportunity to reconnect and spend more time with your family members, friends and loved ones.
With patience and resilience, you will be able to jump back into the workforce successfully.