“I’m sorry, but your services will no longer be needed,” Shyamali Dutta* heard when she joined the conference call five minutes before her scheduled time. After all, in her 10 years of working for various multinational giants, she’d learned it was always better to be early since it left a good impression. Instead, Dutta became privy to a conversation in which a co-worker was being let go of, a call that set the tone for her call and the rest of her work day. “What’s worse, they refused to fire me and instead asked that I resign to avoid paying me a severance,” she says. “Of course I was unhappy, but could I really have done something given that I was barely at this job eight months when the pandemic struck?”
However, Dutta is one of 18.9 million salaried employees to have lost their jobs during the lockdown, according to a recent survey by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy. And while losing one’s job is an unmitigated worry, especially for those who have financial commitments like home loans, tuition fees, or are the sole earning member of their family, in an unprecedented situation like that of a global recession, how can one establish some amount of financial stability?
Says Dutta, “I could have focused on the negative, but I had to remind myself that I wasn’t the only person who has lost their job. I think of this loss as a much-needed push to start my own business. I’ve always loved baking. Ordinarily, I’d bake on weekends or special occasions. Now that I don’t have a full-time job, I can focus on my own company. I haven’t officially launched yet, but I’m working on my business plan and hopefully, can begin selling baked goodies around Christmas time.”
For Leon Andrade* who worked in the marketing division for a real estate company, the pandemic meant severe pay cuts, and for people in his team, getting the pink slip. “I wasn’t happy with the company keeping it hush-hush. It’s not like we weren’t prepared for the inevitability. However, since I wasn’t happy at my job, I decided to quit and join forces with a friend to work on a project that would take off, given the social distancing protocols.” Andrade and his business partner offer clients digital solutions, namely virtual tour and brochures, and 3D walkthroughs for real estate, jewellery brands, and apparel.
However, if business or entrepreneurship isn’t a road you’d like to travel, how can you stay relevant in your career, while keeping your spirits high? Here are some easy tips to follow:
Tip 1 – Stay on top of your industry: Fight the urge to steer clear of industry updates, and keep checking job listings. The markets will slowly but surely open up, and with it, the need to fill jobs.
Tip 2 – Take stock of your job profile: With the job hunt comes updating your role and responsibilities. So pay attention to what your previous job entailed, and update your responsibilities as this will indicate your skill set and also help you significantly widen your job search. Moreover, it’s a great way to dress up your resume.
Tip 3 – Develop new skills: While it may seem pointless, especially if you’re a well-experienced professional, upskilling or adding onto your qualifications will help to make your profile stand out. Whether it’s an online course that works in tandem with your role, or earning a master’s or PhD in your field, you can never learn and grow too much.
Tip 4 – Don’t underestimate the power of networking: Building contacts in your line of work is one thing; building a rapport and reintroducing yourself to your peers is another. This is the best time to rekindle lost connections, connect with ex colleagues, and put feelers out for prospective jobs. Remember, when one door closes, a window somewhere opens up.
Tip 5 – Be patient: You may have lost your job due to the global recession or perhaps you didn’t perform quite like you should have. Whatever reason behind that pink slip, remember to stay calm, keep an open mind, and above all else, have a realistic approach. Don’t be disheartened if something doesn’t work out immediately.
Ultimately, you need to remember that you’re your own worst enemy, so don’t be too hard on yourself, and cut yourself some slack. Things will work out the way they’re supposed to.
*Names have been changed to protect individual privacy