Managing your career in the face of uncertainty
At the start of the year I wrote an article for Caspian One with a very similar title to this one; but it was never published. In that document I spoke about planning for the worst-case scenario, being steadfast in your career pursuits, being open-minded, flexible, tech-savvy – and willing to adapt your mindset should circumstance require.
Then... Coronavirus happened.
It’s somewhat difficult to stand behind statements such-as ‘not living beyond your means’ and ‘create a backup plan’ when the entire world has been thrust into a global pandemic. That’s not to say these points aren’t valid, but they don’t help when the ship has already set sail.
So instead, in this article I want to focus on the here and now. What can we do, today, to help control the direction of our careers - at a time of complete uncertainty?
“When written in Chinese, the word crisis is composed of two characters – one represents danger, and the other represents opportunity” - John.F.Kennedy
2020 has been a year of crisis and disruption. Millions of people have been furloughed, saw their incomes significantly reduced – or are adapting to entirely new and strange working arrangements; remote or socially distanced. Many people are happy just to be surviving lockdown, holding onto a secure job and paying the bills...
but are they missing an opportunity? - keep reading below.
For all the negatives associated with this pandemic, it's important we also consider the positive impact of COVID-19:
Less cars on the road, less planes in the air, less people producing less litter – our planet is gaining a moment to heal.
Air pollution in China, Western Europe and the US has decreased by as much as 60% compared to 2019.
We’ve come together as a planet, through technology. Whether it’s artists like Coldplay’s Chris Martin and Lady Gaga broadcasting special ‘at home’ performances over social media, or fitness celebrities like Joe Wickes keeping the nation's children fit and healthy.
In many ways, being forced to distance ourselves has brought us closer together – even if that’s just seeing your grandmother more-often over video calls.
The importance of good personal hygiene has been pushed to the forefront as we are more aware of what we, and the people around us, touch and encounter daily. People are washing their hands consistently and are taking more care to prevent virus distribution.
Even rare animals and species of fauna are coming out of hiding across the globe, due to reduced human intrusion.
While short-term the virus is creating chaos and havoc... it’s also driving innovation.
COVID-19 is forcing businesses to stop and look at their processes, their legacy systems and their overall purpose. It’s compelled companies to embrace agile, remote and flexible working practices, pushing technophobic leadership to embrace digital. Frontier technologies like 5G are being fast-forwarded as countries attempt to accelerate greater ‘at home’ infrastructures – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
In FinTech, the pandemic has created numerous opportunities for financial institutions.
Beauhurst reports that only 1% of UK FinTechs (in May 2020) have been critically affected and 2% severely affected by Coronavirus; low versus the wider ecosystem, where 17% of high-growth companies fall into these categories. They also report that 87% of UK FinTechs have raised equity finance during this period, with only 2% of jobs being immediately under threat (vs 22% of jobs in the wider high-growth economy). In-fact, Beauhurst found that more than half (56%) of FinTech jobs could be considered at low risk.
“20% of FinTechs are reporting a surge in demand. With the industry being built around the idea that banks and other financial services businesses would use increasingly more sophisticated technology over the years to come, it is perhaps no surprise that the industry is seeing an accelerating demand for its services as large antiquated companies need to digitise, and do it fast. Of those FinTechs being positively impacted, the vast majority seeing a surge in demand specialise in AI, automation and digital ID services. With the need for tighter infrastructure and better technology in companies it is likely that demand will continue to grow.” - more at LINK
The point is this.
The pandemic is driving change... and where there is change, there is need for people to implement, manage, and support that change.
Yes, you could at this time, bunker down and manage career risk by sticking to what you’re doing and keeping to the status-quo. The ‘heads down’ approach. Or, now could be the perfect time to reassess your career aspirations. It could be an invitation to reflect on the path your traversing whilst looking deeply, and honestly... at your career to date.
Our experience is that clients are still hiring despite of Coronavirus. They’re investing in advanced video interviewing software and analytics tools; they’re changing legacy mindsets towards interviewing and onboarding (that classically had to be done in-person) - and there is certainly high demand and need for niche tech capabilities.
We are speaking to Senior Managers, CTOs, CEOs – and many of them are telling us that they’ve actually seen an uptick in productivity from their teams. This is prompting large corporate companies to reassess their working cultures; even potentially operating remotely from here on it!
If you do decide to explore alternative jobs, projects or careers during COVID-19, here are our top tips:
Before you make any firm decisions, begin by taking the time to figure out what really matters to you – personally and professionally. Look at what really motivates you, what excites you, what cemented factors you must take into consideration and who you want to be.
Next, compare this information against your circumstances today. At which points does your current career and your ideal career align? Where is the disconnect? What needed to bring these in-sync?
Create an inventory of your skills. Now is the ideal time, whether change careers or not, to upskill. This is due to an unprecedented volume of online training resources, much of which is currently offered with pandemic discounts – and time on your-side from not going out as often.
Don’t be to linear in your thinking. Consider a variety of possible career journeys you could pursue, some well-informed by experience, others less realistic or simply fantastical. Embracing divergent paths will help you experiment and identify the correct one for you.
Consider dedicating time to back-burner projects that could help you advance your existing career. Perhaps a new language variant to learn, build with and add to your CV – or a shared tech-community project you could invest time in.
Take this opportunity to work on your digital persona, online credibility and network engagement. Look at specific channels like LinkedIn, Reddit or even dedicated subject-specific forums. How you sell yourself online is now a consideration to many hiring managers – plus being seen and heard by the right people, at the right time, could pay future career dividends. A good process could be to identify experts in the subjects that align with your career wants, follow their online activities, join the groups they’re in, engage with what they publish and become recognised by their network.
On the subject of networking, now is a good time to revitalise weak and dormant relationships - as these are the people most likely to be a source of new information and resources. Sometimes looking back can be as beneficial as planning ahead.
Avoid solitary introspection. It’s important to self-reflect but do it out loud, with the support of those who will question, sympathize and share opinions. It’s easy to become your own blocker by daydreaming and never acting – but having a plan shared with others who also monitor your achievements, can truly motivate further action.
This pandemic on its own, is no reason to put your career on pause. There is demand for exceptional tech talent, there are companies hiring, there are options available to you – and we are here to provide genuine support and guidance. We all need to adapt and remain flexible; the world is not the same place today as it was in January 2020 – but for those willing to think innovatively there are opportunities to stand out and succeed!
For more information speak to our team via firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0) 203 691 9200. To see more articles like this from Caspian One be sure to follow the FinTech LinkedIn company pages found at LINK.
Authored by Matthew Payne, Marketing Manager - Caspian One