We’re back from our holidays. The students are back to school. Drivers are back to complaining about the increased traffic. Yes, welcome to September 2021. The return to almost normal.
While many of us are knuckling down to our work from home laptops and peering toward the remainder of this work year, some of you might be deciding to dedicate the upcoming final quarter to landing a new job.
Needless to say, the process this year is very different compared to pre-pandemic times. As writer Cristina Fernandez Esteban pointed out this past week in Business Insider, changes in the way we work are prompting employers to seek candidates who demonstrate exceptional abilities in four main skill areas: digital and programming, social media networking, tech and communications.
“Since the pandemic started, people with skills in digital marketing, web development, web design, and programming have become even more pivotal to companies than they were previously. With a growing number of companies moving towards remote working or hybrid working models, it's crucial to have an understanding of digital tools and programmes needed for remote work,” explained Fernandez Esteban.
From Instagram to LinkedIn, there’s been a massive uptake on social media over the past 18 months. Employees, recruiters and employers are posting more online. Companies and individuals are showcasing their services through livestreams, stories, interviews, podcasts and more.
Knowing how to create and curate captivating content has long been an important skill, but now it is practically a requirement.
Although “you’re still on mute” seems to have become the ubiquitous greeting for our virtual colleagues, this doesn’t mean we’re content to settle for the glitchy way in which too many webinars seem to go.
You can imagine how desirable it is to be one who can seamlessly set up and deploy breakout rooms on the various meeting platforms. Someone who can shift between sharing slides on a screen and then back to presenting directly before the audience gallery. Someone who is savvy enough to know how to properly turn on – or off – their camera when they’re tuning in via laptop or phone. Even these seemingly small skills can be the difference between getting the job in today’s work from home world – or not.
Although I placed this in fourth position on the essential skills list, soft skills should really be at the top. I put them last so I could use the rest of the column to remind you of the five levels of communications these encompass and how each can be actively applied in our virtual working world.
When it comes to word choice, considering cultural, language, context and experience variables, it’s no wonder that so many well-intended presentations, emails and phone conversations result in misunderstanding.
A CEO client of mine shared how a recent passing remark she made about a single difficulty she had during a virtual meeting, wound up blowing up into a rumour that spread like wildfire that she was going to ban remote working altogether. “Nothing could be further from the truth, but apparently my words got in the way.”
Choose your words carefully.
Our body language sends messages to others when we are not saying a word. Yet from the way some people cup their chin in their hands, lean way back in their chairs or don’t even look up from the obvious other thing they’re doing when they “attend” a virtual meeting, they must have forgotten their camera was on.
Pay more attention to your posture (even if you’re only sitting behind your screen). Make gestures and facial expressions to send a positive message to your audience.
Virtual meetings have reduced our senses. We’re not experiencing the atmosphere of a new meeting place anymore. We’re smelling the freshly painted boardroom walls or colleague’s strong cologne. And, if cameras are off, we’re not even seeing. We’re relying on our sense of hearing more than ever. So, if you’re speaking, make sure to express yourself with more purposeful tone, pitch, pace, volume and inflection to keep people more engaged.
If 18 months of remote working have taught us anything, it’s the importance of communicating with care and compassion. Careful consideration of the power of emotions will help you craft a message that connects virtually and, please, some-time soon, in-person. .
Zoom fatigue is only heightened when people present with flat, monotone sounds. It’s hard enough to connect to a postage-stamp sized 2-D version of a person. So, come on, liven up. Show us some energy. Not only if you’re interviewing for that new job, but for your current job too. A new month calls for a renewed commitment to help us connect and stand out.
Write to Gina in care of SundayBusiness@independent.ie
With corporate clients in five continents, Gina London is a premier communications strategy, structure and delivery expert. She is also a media analyst, author, speaker and former CNN anchor. @TheGinaLondon