How to sound positive in your applications when 2020 has been pretty rubbish so far…

Posted in: Advice, Applications

Part One – How to use your remote work experience to demonstrate virtual working skills

Placements and internships cancelled, travel plans binned and social life….what social life?

Maybe, like me, you were full of good intentions for making the best of lockdown: learn Italian (well my husband bought the course at least..), try yoga (does dog walking rather than downward dog count?), enrol to qualify to TEFL ( I honestly did bookmark the website).

Being suddenly catapulted – for that’s how it felt - into the world of virtual meetings and online coaching sessions with students actually was a whole lot harder and more draining than I had anticipated . Seeing the physical and emotional toll it took on my 17-year-old son studying remotely for A levels tells me the impact was similar whatever generation you are in.

So how can you present your lockdown experience with a positive vibe?

I’ve been speaking to the employers of students who were lucky enough to keep their placement roles this year, albeit having had to work from home. They are keen to emphasise that the whole remote working thing requires a particular skillset which will be invaluable for the future world of work. We’ve identified what some of these skills are in other blogs:

Here in the Careers Service our Applications Advice appointments are getting super busy…and yet we’re not seeing much evidence of people showcasing their obvious remote working skills/experience! Make sure you capitalise on your 2020 story:

• Communicating virtually: What tech were you using to communicate within clubs, societies, networks, team research projects..even family? This is both about familiarity with the tech (Zoom, Teams, Skype, Slack etc.) but also being confident to present remotely. Video conferencing requires new approaches to making an impact and influencing decisions. Online chat systems need to be used professionally…. your Teams posts won’t disappear after they’ve been read!

• Other digital skills: Company intranet and CRM systems, file sharing and real time editing...all a very different kettle of fish when you’re getting to grip with them in your kitchen and the IT helpdesk has gone AWOL. Here’s a great Academic Skills blog that explains how you can assess your digital skills:

So how can you communicate your tech savviness in your CV? It’s actually no different from demonstrating any other transferable skills: powerful bullet points illustrate what you did + so what was the outcome/value add + and what was the skill demonstrated. Click here for more about this approach:

• Being organised and managing your time: when your morning commute is from bed to desk in the bedroom you need to make sure your working day still retains some structure and flow. Yes WFH means you can often be more flexible about how/when you achieve deliverables but how did you ensure that the fact you’re a night owl didn’t impact negatively on your team or customer? Maybe you have a time management app you love, or a tried and tested colour coding system for your to-do list; how did this enable you to prioritise your tasks and complete them on time? And how can you talk about work-life balance in your application? Switching off from work is an important life-skill when employers are concerned about staff wellbeing.

C-19 might have trashed our plans for 2020 but I am a great believer in good things coming from bad; I might not yet be fluent in Italian or able to do sun salutations, but I did get to grips with using Teams...and learned how to make sourdough. Make sure you aren’t being a shrinking violet about your 2020 skills!

Part Two of this blog will look at how to be positive about the way you have spent 2020 even if your work experience opportunities were totally cancelled.

Posted in: Advice, Applications


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