Navigating Careers in times of Corona

By Prof. Chandrasekhar Sripada, Clincal Professor of OB & Strategic Human Capital, ISB

Navigating a career change is no different in this current crisis than it was say a month ago or even a year ago. The current crisis will not suddenly change everything about how careers are navigated. Fundamental truths about how careers are navigated remain timeless. They just gain more importance in the light of current crisis. Just as physical exercise is important to heart patient does not mean that fitter people would not benefit from it similarly the timeless truths on navigating careers gain even more importance in the current times.

Below are the 7 key realisation based on the book Working identity for unconventional strategies for reinventing your career by Harmenia Iberra by my favourite professor.

Career Change is not equal to a Job change: Job changes are changes within a certain sector. To illustrate a career change lets take an example of Aditya Ghosh – he was an intellectual property lawyer and then became the CEO of an aviation company and from there he is now the Chairman of the OYO group of hotels. These are examples of significant career changes. Career changes need preparation and a certain mindset.
Understanding the next destination : People can’t change jobs because they know they don’t want this job but don’t know what is the other job they want with precision and clarity and that is a natural thing. But what is not a natural thing is to rush things and moving into the next job without proper research and understanding your aspirations, skill sets etc.

Allow yourself to play a bit randomly and exploratorily : It is not possible exactly to know the next job that you would get but it is possible to know the zone of jobs that you can attempt and that zone of understanding is important to not be obsessed with a target job but to understand a set of roles, industries, sectors that you can attempt

Understand your skills & competencies: Interviewers today are more and more looking at competency based hiring. People mistake their job titles, salaries, designations, experience, hierarchies with knowledge, confidence, skills and ability to contribute and they should look to project these skills in front of their interviewers.

Looking at the Employer Angle : Look at what skills the employers are looking at and what you have to offer. Employers today look for what skills people bring to the table, the roles they can perform, the value addition that they can do for the teams and organisation, the different perspectives they bring, their varied experiences, their strengths and whether they are a cultural fit.

Ability to constantly tread the fine line:
Changing careers is a balancing act. If you are too rushed you may not analyse the opportunity correctly and if you take time you may miss out on the opportunity. It is this ability to understand when is the right time when you are ready to move which is important. Things to consider here would be have you invested enough time in your current job to gain relevant skills and experience and if not have you done certifications and courses to correct the gaps in skills required for your next job

Be wary of advices: Friends and family may offer you well meaning advices on not changing jobs particularly in the times of crisis. It is because that’s the identity they know of you – of stability, of conservativeness of security, that may suit you and may not suit you so take stock of your own readiness, preparedness and if you feel prepared then this also is a good time to change
To summarise in this time the aspiration to move is fairly there. Ability to move is also present provided you take a competency based view rather than a hierarchy based view. If you have the requisite skills, bring value to the table and have diverse experiences that employers value this time is no less than any other to navigate careers

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THE POST GRADUATE PROGRAMME IN MANAGEMENT FOR WORKING PROFESSIONALS (PGPpro) is a Weekend Executive MBA (EMBA) equivalent programme designed to meet career consolidation goals of mid-career working professionals. Know more about PGPpro