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'This is an unprecedented opportunity to upskill'

By A GANESH NADAR
April 15, 2020 10:02 IST
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'What has gained prominence are 'human' skills like creativity, originality and initiative, critical thinking, persuasion, and negotiation, as well as attention to detail, resilience, flexibility and complex problem-solving.'

Photograph: Mansi Thapliyal/Reuters

What does the current lockdown mean for salaried professionals, women who are working from home and those of you, who have recently graduated?

Which are the sectors that want to hire professionals and how can you get there?

Neha Bagaria, below, a Wharton graduate and founder, JobsForHer --- a company that helps women get back at their careers after a break -- feels the lockdown is a great opportunity to learn a new skill or update an existing one.

"This crisis is reducing physical boundaries and changing mindsets, making employers realise that the possibilities are limitless," Neha tells Rediff.com's A Ganesh Nadar.

What is your advice for young people who are worried about keeping their jobs at this time?

Given the financial backlash faced by most companies in India, we are seeing that many companies are either opting to hand out highly muted increments or postponing the appraisal cycle by a quarter or two.

A high majority of SMEs (small and medium enterprises) and start-ups are currently adopting a 'wait and watch' strategy given the uncertainty in the global situation.

Many companies are also taking the difficult decision of laying off part of their workforce to reduce manpower costs if their businesses have taken a major hit.

In such a situation, employees need to further exhibit their value to the company by being available and adaptable to the needs of the company, no matter what their current job roles and titles are.

If they feel that there is uncertainty in the business continuity, then it would be wise for them to also start looking for alternative opportunities via online job portals and headhunters.

You have said that majority of the hiring is happening in the IT sector. What kind of jobs are available?

We are continuing to see an increase in demand for women with technology skills, no matter the industry they are in.

Besides for tech companies, even BFSI (banking, financial services and insurance), Pharma, FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) and education companies are looking at increasing their strength in IT as business and consumer demand shifts to the online world.

Neha Bagaria, founder, CEO, JobsForHer

Some of the top skills in demand include:

  • Mobile developers (Android, IOS, Hybrid)
  • Frontend developers (HTML, Javascript, CSS, JQuery, Angular)
  • Full-stack Developers (Java/J2EE, .Net, PHP, Python)
  • Testers (Manual, Automation)
  • Data (Data Scientists, Data Analytics, Big Data)
  • DevOps (Azure, AWS, CI/CD, Jenkins)
  • Consultants (SAP, Oracle, Salesforce)
  • Product (Product managers, project managers, UI/ UX designers)

What are the other sectors which are hiring?

Besides tech, companies in the BFSI, healthcare, pharma, FMCG and education companies are currently hiring.

Many companies are also hiring gig workers in order to reduce their overall manpower and infrastructure costs.

What kind of job skills should one acquire while sitting at home?

This is an unprecedented opportunity to upskill and learn new techniques. There are many courses, both free and paid, available online in any vertical of your choosing.

As the future of work becomes more digital, it's a good idea to update yourself in the newest technologies in your area.

According to you, post the lockdown, which sectors will start hiring?

While some companies are delaying hiring decisions and in many cases putting a freeze on hiring, there are others who are using this situation to bolster their systems and processes to come out stronger once the storm is over.

Such companies are continuing their hiring and on-boarding processes by leveraging virtual platforms.

This change in behaviour is predicted to continue where more companies will increase efficiency in the hiring process via virtual interviewing, hiring and on-boarding platforms.

The entire process -- right from putting out the job description to screening candidates, conducting interviews via video calls to rolling out job offers -- is moving to the digital space, since it is proving to be the best option for all stakeholders. On-boarding processes and inductions are also being conducted virtually.

Companies are also looking at ramping up their gig workers to reduce employee and infrastructure costs by hiring experienced qualified talent that is willing to work-from-home or as freelancers.

This crisis is reducing physical boundaries and changing mindsets, making employers realise that the possibilities are limitless.

In what kind of jobs do you think women are more suitable than men?

According to the World Economic Forum 2018 Jobs report -- in the future, 'human skills' will be vital to success.

Why is this?

They say some have argued that because machines have started to replace human jobs, it's important that humans work on their 'human skills' in order to remain competitive.

What has gained prominence are 'human' skills such as creativity, originality and initiative, critical thinking, persuasion, and negotiation, as well as attention to detail, resilience, flexibility and complex problem-solving.

Emotional intelligence, leadership and social influence as well as service orientation are also seeing an upward trend in our future skills.

Women are highly suited to these trending human skills because of the life experience they bring to the table!

You want analytical thinking and innovation? Get it from a woman who constantly innovates in her kitchen.

You want active learning and learning strategies? Get it from a trailing spouse who is settling down her family in a new city every couple of years.

Creativity, originality and initiative -- get it from a new bride who is weaving her way into a new household.

Complex problem-solving, leadership, social influence, emotional intelligence -- get it from any mother dealing with babies, toddlers, pre-teens, teens because none of those come with an instruction booklet.

Oh yes, negotiating with one of those can give you a masters in reasoning, problem-solving and ideation!

After this crisis is over, do you think the working from home culture will persist?

Having a flexible, distributed workforce is one of the leading trends in the future of work.

Several companies have already been reducing their infrastructure and payroll costs by employing candidates who work-from-home or are freelancers.

When we are forced to build our muscle in managing a remote team, we could flex that muscle later in identifying roles in our companies that can permanently move to remote working.

What kind of jobs are currently available for women who want to work only for home?

There are several jobs that are available for women who are looking at working from home; these include but are not limited to:

  • Social media executive
  • Market research analyst
  • Business development
  • Tele-calling
  • Content writing
  • Payroll analyst
  • Instructional design
  • Graphic designer
  • Medical transcriptionist
  • Community manager
  • Software development
  • Testing
  • Recruitment
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A GANESH NADAR / Rediff.com
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