We are all living in unprecedented times. Life as you and I know it has been put on hold. COVID-19 and the last several weeks have redefined our view of what is normal and left a historic mark on our world. We are left to quickly adapt to new ways of living that include social distancing, virtual meetings, virtual social hours, working from home, and home learning. What’s more, we must do these things during an unpredictable economy and uncertainty in the job market.
Career experts analyzing the impact of COVID-19 all agree that, unless you are an essential business tied to pharmaceutical, healthcare, bank, grocery or home improvement industries, you will likely feel the effects of the distressed economy. Unemployment claims have reached historic highs and some non-essential businesses have implemented a hiring freeze, or folded altogether. As business owners and professionals, these are ideal times for self-assessment, identifying our strengths and refreshing the value we bring to the table.
This is not the time to idly ride out the storm. Leaders, innovators and market disrupters are already actively engaged and exploiting opportunities. If you are in a hard-hit industry such as travel, hospitality or food service, align your job hunting with your customer service skills. Customer-centric businesses are in high demand and that is unlikely to change. If you are in the legal industry, pay attention to emerging practice areas such as cyber-security and data privacy and sectors that are still growing strong, such as healthcare, labor and employment, insurance defense and litigation. Unsurprisingly, we are also seeing an uptick in bankruptcy cases.
Staying relevant to your employer is just as important as refocusing your career path. As more of us are directed to “WFH” (the now popularized acronym for “work from home”), our skills, patience, and focus are being increasingly challenged. WFH may be a foreign concept to many and mastering it is an art in itself. Throw in the monumental task of homeschooling, numerous interruptions, and the challenge of maintaining performance increases significantly. Nevertheless, WFH is an opportunity to showcase your value to your employer.
One way to do this is through the use of statistics. Statistics are a vital part of today’s business world; therefore, using a metric to validate your productivity is key. For example, if you work in sales, staying in front of clients and prospects is imperative during times of economic distress. You can reveal value to your employer and increase your effectiveness by tracking your job-related activities so that you can: 1) authenticate that you are working from home and, 2) stay fresh in the minds of clients and prospects as the economy recovers. In the legal field, the billable hour is the lifeline of most law firms. Therefore, keeping track of your work product and the timely reporting of those hours are critical to law firm survival. Finally, active communication with your clients, team, and supervisor is critical, as is increased collaboration with colleagues.
Any spare time should be spent on fostering new relationships and strengthening existing ones. Embracing social media and creating content for your customers is an excellent avenue to maintaining relevance. Enhance your social media presence, create a LinkedIn profile that acts as your live resume or promotes your products and services, join online professional groups and disseminate information to colleagues, clients and prospects on topics that are most relevant to your audience.
Technology companies have raced to the forefront to streamline our virtual experience, making our lives in seclusion that much more bearable. This new “virtual reality” has catapulted us into a new age where, despite social distancing, technology has brought us closer to one another. I am hopeful that all of us will soon hit the reset button and redeploy our minds to a state of innovation and progress. For now, let’s look at this crisis as an opportunity to grow and innovate.
Aida C. Rodriguez, CEDS
Division Director | Beacon Hill Legal
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