Pamela drove down the street to her office. The modest new car was a pretty big achievement to her and so, she whistled as she drove. The city of Lagos was truly bustling with life, even though it was barely past 7 am. Most of the shops were already open. Life seemed pretty normal, if you discounted the nose masks on people’s faces and the distance they maintained. At the office, Pamela alighted from her car and walked into the gigantic building that she’d come to love in the past three months. She returned a warm smile to the receptionist’s huge smile and greetings. A look around the workplace showed other changes as well. The glass compartments that demarcated offices that were once joined together; the sanitizer dispensers that were everywhere; the smaller number of employees that work physically; all pointed to one thing; change. But how did it all happen?

Change, they say, is the only constant thing in life. Though we know that most changes (like the ongoing pandemic) are often beyond our control, yet we all know that it is never easy to deal with the resultant effects of the changes. Our reactions to these changes is therefore very important because it determines to what extent we are able to rise above our challenges and maximize the opportunities.

Pamela woke up one early morning and the world was in a chaotic state of disorder. A few weeks ago, the coronavirus pandemic had hit the city of Wuhan in China and was killing people in numbers. Things quickly spiraled south, as other countries soon caught the virus and issued lockdown restrictions. She worked in an FMCG company as a marketer and had received an email from her company that not to come into work during the lockdown. The paychecks were no longer coming, but she still had responsibilities to take care of. Her savings were depleted. The company she’d worked for the past five years let her go too. Pamela cried buckets that day and remained inconsolable for three days. By the fourth day, it dawned on her that the tears were of no help to her. She had to take stock of her life so far. What has she been doing wrong?

Have you been feeling anxious like Pamela? Have you been depressed, worried or experienced other negative emotions that we feel when we have no control over situations? Like Pamela, it is time to take stock of your life.

While Pamela was working with the FMCG company, she’d felt so secured in her job. She hadn’t felt the need to be more intentional about her personal growth outside what her job required of her. Personal branding was a foreign word to her and though she had spearheaded several projects that produced remarkable results for the company, she hadn’t thought to note them down or leverage on her accomplishments to project her brand. Her LinkedIn and other career platforms page were bland and oddly empty. While critically evaluating her pages, she told herself the truth; she wouldn’t hire herself based on her pages if she was a recruiter. Meanwhile, her financial life too was in tatters. The pandemic showed her exactly how much she’d taken her life for granted. She had failed to make financial plans that would serve as a buffer against such unforeseen challenges like the pandemic. At this rate, how was she going to get her life back in order?

One of the outcomes of this pandemic is that it highlights the gap in your life in your finances, career etcetera. What do you do in these kind of situations? Some of the steps you could take include;

  • Relook at your goals and targets for this year. Our articles on goal-setting can guide you on how to modify your goals.
  • Have a second look at your financial life. Our articles found here, here and here can help you achieve financial stability.
  • Revamp your LinkedIn profile and start to position yourself for the job you so desire.
A building with the insignia “Welcome to LinkedIn”

Pamela resolved to brace up for the challenge. Short of wallowing in self-pity and possibly dying from starvation, she could see no other option left to her. She started out by revamping her social media pages, particularly her LinkedIn page. She took itinerary of her professional skills and updated her CV. Upon research, she compiled a list of skills she felt she needed to set her apart from other candidates and help her secure a job and began sharpening those skills. She reached out to a few of her friends in the corporate world and informed them of her job loss. Through them, she joined a few professional communities and utilized the lockdown by attending webinars, online events, and gaining professional certifications. In one of such events, she electronically met Mr. Pat.

In the face of the pandemic, it is only right to brace up for the challenge ahead. Does that mean making some vital changes to your life or updating your CV? Rather than panic, these are the steps you could take;

A young lady drawing up her plans on a whiteboard.
  • Compile a list of the requisite skills you need for your desired job and get a head start on acquiring them.
  • Keep in touch with your professional network. You need them now.
  • Attend online webinars, job fairs and training.

Mr. Pat is the HR manager at UNILEVER; one of the biggest FMCG companies in Nigeria. As a recruiter in search of an Operations Manager for the company, he was well aware that the hiring process has changed due to the global pandemic and so was attending online events in search of new talents. Pamela had caught his attention when she took the initiative of handling a project that their professional community had been deliberating on. The project was a huge task that no other person had wanted to take up. Not only that, but she also came up with innovative ideas that made the project a huge success. Mr. Pat was intrigued and knew without a doubt that he’d found the Operations Manager he was in search of.

Like you, so many others have been laid off or are at a loss on their current job security. The game has just gotten tougher, so you must do all it takes to stand out from the crowd. Just like Pamela took the initiative of spearheading a tasking project, here are a bunch of things you could do to stand out in your organization or from the crowd;

  • Go the extra mile and take on new responsibilities in your workplace.
  • Volunteer your services at little or no cost at all during events.
  • Be vocal and give creative solutions during meetings or any gathering you are a member of.

Through this project, Pamela successfully gained the visibility she so desired on LinkedIn. In addition, she had managed to build her expertise and network just by carrying out a project. Her exposure after this was explosive. She received three job offers from recruiters she didn’t even know were part of the community in order to recruit new talents. She chose Mr. Pat’s offer because it came with a lot of incentives (including a clothing allowance, a small apartment, and a car) and opportunities for personal growth and development. Her starting salary, which was over triple what she was being paid at her previous job, was a catalyst to start up the investment and savings plan she had drawn up after reading various investment articles.

In SUMMARY, the ongoing pandemic is a huge game-changer in all aspects of life, particularly in the workplace. These changes are phenomenal and have lasting impacts. But as the saying goes, we can make lemonades out of the lemons that life has thrown us. Take Pamela for instance, all that she earned from the pandemic would not have been possible if she’d not decided to make lemonades out of the lemons. Until we decide to maximize the positive sides of this pandemic and see it as a blessing in disguise, the pandemic will continue to be just as disastrous and disruptive as we expect it to be.

Read Also: Dear Young Professional, We Are In The Age of “Me Inc.” AKA Personal Branding