A few years ago the future of work would have been only a futuristic idea, that probably never posed as much of a risk as talk about. But over the past few months the reality of the future of work became glaring as the pandemic spread faster than could be contained, many persons woke of to the gleaming reality of the fact that life would never be the same again with millions losing jobs at the rate never before imagined and company’s adopting technology at an even more alarming rate. The future of work dawned on us while we were fast asleep and secured in the past, the future of work is now.
You would agree with me that if more persons found a way to work remotely and worked remotely before the pandemic struck, work would have continued almost unaltered. But of cause like every discussion around the future of work, remote work was not mainstream.
Many more have already adopted remote work as a result of the pandemic and many more are thinking of doing so soon.
It is interesting to know that at the center of the future of work is TECHNOLOGY, advances in technology today has affected or altered the way work is done, from how job listings are posted to the recruitment process and even up to how the job is delivered, today more and more jobs are becoming location agnostics.
I will be discussing further these changes in the way work is done and how you can position yourself to use it to your advantage.
Preparing yourself for the job market
“The Era of Eduployment: Identifying a trade, getting an education, and getting a job (or starting a company) become fully integrated.” Medium
Self-development also referred to as personal development is a broad term that refers to all activities that improve awareness ‘build human capital and facilitate employability — Wikipedia.
As we discuss the future of work, you must understand that this discussion is necessary for preparing you, as it would help increase your awareness of developments around the future of work.
Now coming to career-specific developments, you need to discover what type of career you want for yourself or more specifically what job you want to do.
This discovery or knowledge is important as it would ultimately decide where you invest your effort and time in developing yourself, once you know the kind of job you want, then you would need to research what titles companies give to such jobs. Companies adopt several nomenclatures when it comes to job titles, at other times this is geography-based.
Once you know the titles used by companies for the job you are interested in, go a step further to find out what the job descriptions are with a focus on the skills both soft and technical, certifications, and tools that companies expect potential employees to possess.
The findings from the research would give you some insights into areas in your skills where there might be gaps, this should make you more deliberate about your development as you focus on filling those skill gaps to be a better candidate for the job, at this point it is good to know you are competing with dozens of other candidates, and of cause, companies are only looking for the best or perceived best for the job.
What does it means to be the best, first and foremost it means visibility, (no matter how good you think you are if you’re not visible/available/accessible no one will know you even exist. So it is very important you put yourself out there — the truth is we’re all selling something, how you package what you are selling is exactly how you will be perceived.
Being deliberate about your development means you would draw out a plan of action that would help you skill or re-skill yourself to make up for the lack or gap in your skills or knowledge.
You would have discovered from your prior research into the job description that companies are looking for more than just a school degree; so don’t settle for that, seek to acquire more. Generally, the more qualified you are the better off you would be. At other times what you need is some experience, so seek to get experienced in your field of interest, it doesn’t matter if it is paid or unpaid.
Some companies also would want that you should have volunteered at some point in your career. For technical skills, there are lots of platforms where you can enroll to get certified in any area of your chosen, some offer discounts from time to time, and a few even for free.
Preparing your applications
Now let’s talk about the applications, what does it entail?
As a result of the large-scale adoption of technology by companies, most have completely automated and moved their recruitment process to the internet and some companies have even adopted ATS or applicant screening systems that are used to screen out resumes without the help of humans.
So in this section, I would be discussing some tips to make your resume stand out from the crowd. The resume and cover letter are two important documents that have always been used by recruiters and companies alike for accessing the quality of a candidate over the years, they are still very much relevant today even as they were before the days of the Personal Computer. You don’t want to take this for granted.
“First impressions matter most” is a saying that plays out very well in this context as it concerns your resume and cover letter. You want to make sure you are representing yourself well through your resume, as this is the first point of contact with the recruiter, and to many, it is the only point of contact as they never get to pass this stage.
How the recruiter perceives you through your resume would invariably determine if s/he would want to see you in person or not. This has nothing to do with whether you are qualified or not, but instead how well you sell yourself through the pages of your resume. Many never got invited to the interview not because they weren’t qualified, but simply because their resume sold them short.
So what is a resume?
Cambridge English dictionary defines it “as a short statement of the important details of something” and Wikipedia puts it this way “a document that presents a person’s background, skills, and accomplishment”.
From the first definition, we can pick two key phrases that qualify a good resume, “short” and “important details”. A resume is to be as short and brief as it can be and it should only contain important details that relate to the job being applied for. For entry-level positions, a single page is always advisable and grows as your experience increases, preferably an additional page for every ten years of relevant experience. If you already have a resume longer than required, then you probably have included details that aren’t relevant to the job description or shouldn’t be in a resume but a cover letter.
Now, what should be included in a resume?
From the second definition, we get a highlight of what should be in a resume, some background information, relevant skills, and accomplishment. This could include your contact details, education preferably the most recent, experience, skills (soft/hard), and relevant certifications if any.
Don’t include personal details that are not required to contact you such as age, ethnicity, color, tribe, religion, and gender except spelled out by the job requirement. Hobbies and personal likes are not generally welcomed except required for the job you are applying for.
It is also important to note that the structure and details contained in your resume may vary from industry to industry and geographies.
When writing your resume, make sure you tailor it to suit the job description, using a single resume for every application may sell you short.
So how do you tailor your resume to suit the job description? They are written with a particular job in mind, from the earlier section we discussed researching the job requirements for upskilling or reskilling purposes. That research would also come in handy here as you are now better positioned to emphasize the skills you’ve learned and experience that are more suited for the position based on the job description.
You must ensure all the information you include adds up in persuading the employer that you are a better candidate for the position. It is also important to note that a resume only secures a spot for an interview with the employer, so use words or phrases that are persuasive enough. These words are referred to as keywords.
What keywords should you use and why?
First, what is a keyword? They are words, terms, or phrases that are emphasized in the job description, these are the things the employer or recruiter would be looking out for. They could be skills, technologies, or tools used to execute the given job.
The first place to look for keywords should be in the job description, look out for terms that are emphasized as required to have, and make sure they show up in your resume sufficiently.
This is more so important because as noted before, employers are now adopting the use of automated resume screening systems or applicant tracking systems, ATS for short. These are computer software and the way they do the screening may vary from company to company in their complexity, but generally, they all look out for keywords based on the job description feed into them, and with that, they screen all the resumes passed through them and eliminate those that don’t match the given criteria to a certain percentage.
What then should be on the cover letter?
While we emphasize a slim resume, you can have a fat cover letter. Your cover letter should be more detailed and it should throw more light on the content of your resume. This is probably the last opportunity to prove to the employer that you are a better candidate for the position and to be considered for an interview. For some jobs you are giving a length your cover letter is not expected to exceed but when you are not giving then it should not exceed two pages.
It is important you focus on a few of your strong points and write extensively on them rather than to write little about so many things, this way you would better prove to the employer that you have what it takes to do the job, your cover letter is your pitch deck, make it concise, clear and straightforward. Some jobs do not require you to submit a cover letter.
And finally, make sure you proofread your resume and cover letter for spelling and grammatical mistakes. This also shows that you are careful enough to pay attention to details.
Doing the job search
It is popularly said that “your network is your net worth”, in the business of job searching your network is very important, it is not always about “what you know, but whom you know” is also important. You need to know your network and your network also needs to know you: they need to know you are job searching, only then will they refer or recommend you to potential recruiters or employers.
Technology has made this a lot easier than ever, as you don’t even need to meet in person, you can still network with your connections on social media. A note of warning here: don’t spam people’s inboxes with unsolicited messages in trying to let them know you are job searching, always be courteous.
You could build a network on any of the social media platforms, but I think a professional social network like LinkedIn would be a great place to be if you are job searching.
Whatever social media you decide to go with, make sure your public profile is descriptive enough, it should depict who you are, what you are doing, and what you want. And make it professional, LinkedIn already helps you archive this with a little tweak and some more details you can archive a great profile, for more on this check out Jane Deehan article 20 steps to a better LinkedIn profile in 2021.
What do you do on social media? Social media could give you your next job or put you on a new career path, it all depends on how you position yourself — some of the major jobs I’ve done to date came through the doors of social media
Technology has made the process of posting jobs a lot easier for employers and it has also made the process of applying for these jobs even much easier for job seekers.
Today we have so many job boards, thanks to the internet. While most of them are only aggregators that pull job listings from all over the internet to one place and even arrange them into categories and skill levels. With these platforms, you don’t need to search for yourself.