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Optimise lockdown for your Career
Bersan Lesch at the 2019 Annual Scholars Conference
Friday, May 8, 2020
by Bersan Lesch

This pandemic is a defining moment in our lives and we need to adjust very quickly to the changes that are going to follow on this crisis.  The world of work and education have been disrupted in the short-term, but will most certainly also be impacted in the aftermath of this COVID-19 pandemic.  Now is a good time to do some career planning, CV updates, build a personal bragbook and even benefit from the myriad of free courses offered through the internet.

Our parents, grandparents and even their parents survived the Great Depression (early 1930s), the World War (early 1940s) and even Apartheid (1948 to 1994). The COVID-19 crisis is in the same league as those major defining moments in history, and the present generation needs to be equipped to deal with and survive these rapid and unprecedented changes.  The world of work and study are clearly being affected and employees, job seekers and even the self-employed need to adjust.  Being homebound is a good time to do some career planning and preparations as we adjust to the changes.

 

Career Planning

The isolation during the lockdown is ideal for some reflection and getting some medium to short-term planning done.  Personal Strategic Planning is essential, by putting on paper [where am I; where do I want to be; and how do I get there]. A good place to start is drawing up a personal SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and strengths). This should be followed by choosing a maximum of three  sectors where you want to go, e.g. banking, agriculture, mining, manufacturing etc. Then choose about 4-5 companies in each sector that you want to target, followed by only 2 job titles that you think your next career step is.  This technique makes your job search much more focussed avoiding the modern syndrome of applying to hundreds of online jobs and not being called for any interviews.

 

CV Review and Update

Now is a good time to critically look at your CV and not only update but to get it aligned to where you would like to go in the near future.  Too long CVs reflect poorly on you as a person who is not able to focus and communicate clearly.  South Africans in general have too long CVs and should reduce it to the following guidelines:  New Graduates and less than 3years work experience (max 2 pages); Three years and longer (max 3 pages); when aiming for executive and management positions you can exceed the 3 pages by 1-2.  Academics and researchers can have CVs of 10 -20 pages long, listing their publications and conference papers. 

 

Build a Portfolio or Bragbook

As you may have to change direction or sector and need to reinvent yourself, it can be very useful to build up a personal portfolio or bragbook, reflecting all you major achievements in the following categories: 

Education and Training – certificates, university transcripts, best assignments from varsity and proof of participation; 

Work Achievements – performance evaluations, projects, newsletters, proposals; samples of your writing;

Awards – scholarships, photos of trophies. Testimonials – recommendations in letters, emails and on LinkedIn.

Community Involvement – professional and other memberships, newspaper clippings; 

Other Docs – CV, Personal Statement/ Philosophy, LinkedIn summary, Bio, Photos of you in action. 

A bragbook can be between 15 to 20 pages long. create an attractive cover page for it. 

 

Prepare for and join the Gig Economy

Many people will likely not be able to go back to their previous jobs and would like to transition into something that can sustain them during the interim. To be able to join the gig economy, now is the time to benefit from all the many FREE online short courses offered by universities and other platforms.  You may get to learn from the top institutions in the world such as Harvard University on the edX platform ( www.edx.org).

Other platforms to consider include Future Learn https://www.futurelearn.com/ and Open Learning, https://www.openlearning.com. By quickly completing some short courses, you may be able to reinvent yourself. You could be doing short-term work from home such as translation or editing services. Platforms such as https://www.fiverr.com/  and https://www.upwork.com/   These tasks and jobs can be your side hustle which one day could become your main source of income. 

 

To contact Bersan for consultation email bersan.lesch@gmail.com