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Career Lessons from the Covid-19 Response

By Joe O'Brien, on 14 May 2020

Read time: 4 minutes

Written by Glyn Jones, Careers Consultant at UCL Careers.

A lot has changed in the UK over the past few weeks and these changes have brought about challenging times for businesses, with staff being furloughed and whole industries needing to adapt to change fast. In this blog post, I’ll be focusing on the skills and qualities that employees have had to demonstrate in these challenging times and what we can learn from them in order to enhance your own employability.

I’ll be concentrating on three key skills that the workforce has been exercising during this time and highlighting how these will be useful for future employers in any given circumstances.

Adaptability

In the past few weeks everyone has had to adapt to the current situation and the challenges that it brings. Many businesses have altered their usual processes and get used to a new way of doing things. This might be developing new ways of offering services or ensuring that staff are supported to be able to work remotely. Staff responding swiftly and demonstrating flexibility to evolving circumstances mean that organisations have been able to continue to offer services and, essentially, continue operating.

Adaptability is a skill that’s always in demand; organisations seek out candidates who demonstrate agility in order to work outside their comfort zone. This could be using new technology, familiarising yourself with new topics or simply showing a willingness to try out new processes. Consistently performing at a high level despite changes to the environment you’re working in will make you a valuable employee. To be able to convey this, be sure to have strong examples of times you’ve shown adaptability and flexibility in your work.

Read our Skill Hub page on Adaptability for more ideas about how you can develop and evidence this skill. You can also watch this video for top tips on adaptability from recent graduate, Chenil.

Communication

With a dramatic increase in remote working, communication has become essential for organisations in ensuring their entire workforce is on the same page and up to date with what’s happening across the company. Employees no longer have the option of popping to someone’s desk to ask a quick question, or getting everyone in the same room. Regular catch ups or newsletters may now be part of a normal day and organisations have had to think about how they keep stakeholders informed about what’s going on and how they can access services. Frequency, pitch, length, granularity, tone are some important considerations when delivering these key communications. By taking time to think about the target audience and tailoring messages accordingly, organisations are able to send coherent, informative communications.

Clear, tailored and concise communication is a valuable skill to any organisation. Employers value workers who can effectively work with others, deliver key messages and ensure everyone is fully informed. Whether this be communication with other staff members or stakeholders, the ability to clearly communicate enables businesses to save time and ensures maximum productivity. Any employer will be grateful for a clear communicator who tailors messages to audiences, so be sure to have examples of times you’ve demonstrated these skills ready for future applications.

Read our Skill Hub page on Written and Verbal Communication for more ideas about how you can develop and evidence this skill.

Problem Solving

The ability for an organisation to overcome the current challenges they’re facing has ultimately come from their staff’s problem solving capabilities. Through coming up with solutions, businesses have been able to use this opportunity to foster innovation. Although some challenges may be too great to overcome, having the mentality to look for alternatives and come up with solutions are key qualities businesses are looking for in employees.

The ability to look at a problem and apply knowledge to come up with a solution is invaluable. It enables businesses to overcome difficult circumstances and secures innovation at the company, ensuring they remain at the forefront of their given industry. Don’t feel that you need to come up with a ground-breaking solution; employers are likely to value enthusiasm, working methodically and a can-do attitude. They’re after innovative thinkers, who focus on coming up with creative solutions instead of dwelling on problems. Think about times you’ve faced challenges in your own work and how you showed innovation to come up with solutions to these problems and be ready to talk about these in your applications.

Read our Skill Hub page on Problem Solving Skills for more ideas about how you can develop and evidence this skill.

For ideas on how you could gain these skills and demonstrate them in your applications you can book a one-to-one appointments with a UCL Careers Adviser, take a look at the UCL Careers Skills Hub and be sure to keep an eye on upcoming blog posts for further ideas of what you could be doing.

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