INCREASED communication is key to overcoming career setbacks brought on by COVID-19.
A global survey has found almost three-quarters of young professionals fear that not being able to physically network with colleagues during the pandemic will negatively affect their long-term career goals.
The survey conducted by CEMS, the Global Alliance in Management Education, also reveals graduates believe a lack of face-to-face training opportunities and tighter training budgets will significantly impact their career progression.
Robert Half director Nicole Gorton says young workers are still able to reach their full potential, provided they possess strong communication skills.
“Networking and relationship development will become a greater challenge (when working remotely), particularly for new hires or entry-level employees, as even something as simple as conversational skills and social introductions must be managed virtually,’’ she says.
“With reduced in-person interactions, strong communication skills and the confidence to make introductions, voice ideas and ask questions remotely will definitely be a distinguishing trait of effective remote employees.
“As a rule of thumb, when working remotely, leaders and employees alike should be communicating two to three times more to compensate for the distance.’’
Gorton says new employees may not be aware of upcoming projects or career opportunities so having a mentor from within the business can help to “guide (their) progress and put them forward for relevant opportunities for upskilling and assistance’’.
The CEMS survey involved recent postgraduates, mostly in their early to mid-twenties – and many of whom have been identified as future business leaders and entrepreneurs – from more than 40 countries.
Professor Greg Whitwell, CEMS Global Alliance chairman and University of Sydney Business School dean, says despite the concerns, COVID-19 has demonstrated how technology can contribute to new ways of collaboration and teamwork.
“Despite the challenges of the pandemic, we’ve proved that it is possible to create significant learning opportunities via online platforms, which give graduates a willingness and an ability to shift mindsets, think critically and creatively and embrace greater risk and flexibility,’’ he says.
“In a post-Covid world, graduates who can engage employees and stakeholders around experimentation, and who can continuously learn and adapt, will be in high demand.’’
Emily Bobis, 25, completed a Diploma of Languages last year, after earlier undertaking a Master of Commerce degree, and says she had be innovative and work harder on her communication skills to succeed with her studies.
“With a language degree, it’s really tricky to do online – usually I would practise trying to talk in Chinese over lunch or getting a coffee (between lectures with classmates) but, when we had the lockdown, we couldn’t do that,’’ she says.
“We stayed in touch digitally as much as we could but it was difficult.
“When you’re online, you can only see people’s faces so we had less visual clues to pick up on and had to focus on exactly what was being said.’’
Bobis last year also took part in her university’s start-up accelerator program and says that, without face-to-face mentoring, it was important to ensure online meetings had clear agendas and outcomes to stay on track and minimise “digital fatigue’’.
Originally published as Overcome career setbacks caused by Covid-19