Tue | Oct 19, 2021

Yaneek Page | Lost your job? Here’s how to pivot in this pandemic

Published:Sunday | September 13, 2020 | 12:19 AM
Cybersecurity entrepreneur Gavin Dennis.
Cybersecurity entrepreneur Gavin Dennis.

ADVISORY COLUMN: SMALL BUSINESS

QUESTION 1: I started working with an accounting firm in February of this year and was sent home in May due to the pandemic. I have been job searching since then. I also taught accounts for three years. Can you please help me find a job that can match my skills set even if it’s something online? – M.

QUESTION 2: My wife was made redundant from her job. She has experience in accounting, more particularly accounts payable, is proficient in Peachtree, Inspire, Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Payroll. She holds a BBA degree. If you know of anyone who has a vacancy, it would be appreciated. I know COVID-19 has changed the dynamics of life, however, we are exercising faith. – K.

BUSINESSWISE: I am excited to share some great strategies and an inspiring practical example of how, as accounting professionals, you might be able to quickly transition to an area that is high in demand in these times.

efore I do, however, it is important to manage expectations. Since April, I have been literally inundated with messages from people who have either lost their jobs or been affected by job losses of relatives or caregivers because of the pandemic.

The situation is dire. The record global job losses and economic decline have made it an exceptionally challenging time to be unemployed as few new jobs are being created, and many highly qualified, highly skilled, and experienced people are competing in a shrinking global marketplace.

My advice to anyone seeking employment now is that these extraordinary times call for drastic measures. Drastic meaning aggressive and non-stop action, a bold pivot, and the audacity to look outside of Jamaica for opportunities. Finding employment now requires positive thinking amid the air of gloom and high energy that drives consistency in prospecting even when you might not have the mindset to do so.

Pivot and plan

This is why it is important to immerse yourself in the hope of powerful stories of inspiration daily. Which brings me to the practical example I promised. Former accountant turned cybersecurity-audit-and-protection expert Gavin Dennis is a Jamaican now living his ‘best life’ in Europe after securing a job in cybersecurity via LinkedIn Jobs some time ago.

Now a cybersecurity entrepreneur who can be found at g5cybersecurity.com, he insists that he is enjoying the best quality of life ever, the most earnings and savings, and works far less than he used to.

Recently, Gavin shared publicly that he wished more Jamaicans would take bold action and actively search for opportunities outside of Jamaica, especially in the field of cybersecurity, which is ripe with opportunity in this pandemic.

The advantage of a strong accounting and audit background is the relative ease of transition to IT audit, security, and cybersecurity, which are in high demand because of the massive global uptake of technology and the increased cybersecurity risks that result from such a massive and sudden shift, particularly e-commerce and work/school from home.

My own quick search of the major job sites revealed tens of thousands of jobs available in this high-paying field, with new jobs being added daily. On LinkedIn Jobs, which is where Gavin found the job that extracted him from Jamaica to Germany for triple his previous income, has over 59,000 open opportunities. Glassdoor has over 24,000, and Indeed has over 18,000.

The most critical employment strategy now is to upskill yourself to match the opportunities available rather than waiting around for old jobs to come back or competing with a comparative mass of applicants for the few traditional jobs.

Some jobs that have gone are never coming back, some will take more effort and less pay, some will be more stressful because of the heavy workload relative to staff. Note, too, that in those traditional areas, it may be many months, if not years, before you can earn a salary comparable to pre-COVID-19 times.

Never let up

The best option might be pivoting towards high-demand jobs where the supply of talent is less. Among Gavin’s qualifications are CISSP, CISM, CASP, and CySa+, which I noted as popular requirements for several of the jobs now available.

Another important strategy that worked for Gavin was to apply like crazy for jobs daily. Gavin shared that when he was contacted for the life-changing interview, he didn’t even remember that he had applied because he had sent out so many applications. Yet one interview was all it took to receive an offer, and in two weeks, the company had secured and paid for his work visa.

His major success tips are ensuring that you brand yourself appropriately online, upgrade your online profile to include a professional head-shot photo, all your accomplishments, and your affiliations. He stressed that companies scrutinise your online profile intensely, and it can make or break your employment prospects. The fatal mistake Jamaicans make, in his view, is not curating their social media content, and I could not agree more.

The surest way to kill your prospects is posting hate speech, prejudice towards a group, or sharing confidential information about your previous employer.

COVID-19 has changed the world forever, and many of us will need to make drastic change to survive. My new mantra, which is 'No one is coming to save us!' may be the ultimate guide for you in these times. We must rise up, get ahead of the winds of change, and try to save ourselves.

Good luck!

Yaneek Page is the programme lead for Market Entry USA, a certified trainer in entrepreneurship, and creator and executive producer of The Innovators and Let’s Make Peace TV series.

yaneek.page@gmail.com