Job Readiness Tips for Finance Students in 2021

‘Times they are a changin’ – Bob Dylan

They say time never waits for anyone. It’s always changing. Bob Dylan may have immortalized this fact through a song that was released way back in 1964 but even today we must all play catch up with the fast changing world all around us.

Even if 2020 began pretty normally with the hullabaloo of a new year and prospects of a great year, by March, most of us realized that it is going to be the worst year in our collective living history. When WHO declared Covid-19 as a global pandemic and ascertained that the virus spread through person to person contact, there seemed nothing more to do but lockdown nations. That’s exactly what most countries did. Announced weeks of lockdown to contain the spread of the virus. Initially countries like Italy, Greece and Iran (apart from China) struggled to cope up with the virus that had spread in their country like wildfire. Their staggering response alarmed every other nation and everyone went on a panic mode to contain the spread of the virus. Wearing masks in public places became mandatory, maintaining social distance a norm while health workers continues to spread awareness about hand and respiratory hygiene.

While governments did the needful to stop the spread of the virus, people all over were put on a back foot trying to cope up with so many new rules and regulations. The strictest of the regulations was the imposition on movement. Being forced to stay at home, preferably work from home and stay put in your place for months at end soon became the norm.

Now that many months have passed since the strict imposition of lockdowns, several countries have relaxed their regulations. Countries have opened up to a large extent, allowing daily wage earners and low income earners to work while those being able to work from home advised to maintain status quo. There is no doubt that the virus is still at large, affecting cities after cities, towns after towns. But in the last few months, if there is something we have all learned is how to live with this virus and yet fight the tough battles (of livelihood and health safety) every day.

Difficulties That Followed Lockdowns

Of course, it hasn’t been easy. Not for the governments, not for the economies, not for the millions of working population and least of all for the students. When it comes to the latter, in most places, educational institutions have still not opened (and are unlikely to open any time soon). This means students, both tiny tots and young adults are having to learn from home. While for the younger ones may be enjoying staying at home, avoiding the rigmaroles of formal schooling, the young adults haven’t been so fortunate. They have found themselves in muddy waters with no faults of their own. With much better understanding of what is happening around the world, calculating the consequences of a pandemic on their career, the stress of completing their final education from the confines of their homes hasn’t been easy.

Students, especially those acquiring a degree in financial planning, have been hit quite hard. With uncertainty about prospects of getting a job to inability to consult their mentors and teachers personally, they are facing the brunt of the pandemic quite extensively. But like after even the darkest of days, the sun shines even brighter, if you are a student of finance, you must look for that speck of sunshine. You have two options – to sit at home and drown yourself in self-pity or take this situation as a challenge and prepare yourself for better days.

Become Job Ready While Staying at Home

The final years of your education decide the course of your life. It is in these couple of years that you get a direction about how to realize your dreams. When you enroll for any professional course, you do so because you see yourself making a career in that chosen field. For finance students, professional course in Financial Planning means you are open for jobs at the banking sector, in wealth management, stock market, mutual funds and more. Unfortunately, due to the current prevailing conditions, everything seems bleak. Reports pouring in from all over the world of dipping GDPs, unemployment, job loss can undoubtedly create panic in your young mind. While the economic situation is definitely grim, all hope isn’t lost just yet.

While you are at home, it is time for you to not just complete your course – which is obviously being taken care of by your college or educational institution. While you graduate, you must also use this time to prepare yourself for job in a post-Covid world – in 2021. The fact that businesses will operate differently once everything opens up and people start going to offices cannot be discounted. You have to be prepared for a changed work environment once everything resumes. Below we shall be talking about few things that you should primarily focus on right now.

How To Become Job Ready in a Post-Covid World?

  1. Take a Stock of Your Skills – Competition in the post-Covid world is going to get tougher. You will have to fight to get noticed. There will be people better and brighter than you. There will also be many smart ones who prepared themselves well in advance. You must ask yourself right now what you have that others don’t. If you want the job of your dreams in the banking sector or as a financial advisor, you must be able to bring more to the table than your competitor. That’s one of the primary reasons why you must be enhancing your skills. You should be able to apply everything that you learnt theoretically in the practical world. From being introduced in financial planning in the first semester to learning about financial and strategic management in the final semester, the course must have been all-inclusive. Now is the time to ask yourself whether you recall everything you learnt. Now is the time to ask whether if in a given situation, you can apply the things you have been taught.

The honest truth, if be told, is that most students will not be able to recall what they learnt. That’s your edge. That’s where you can create your mark. You can race ahead by showing your prospective employers that you completely understand financial planning and its nitty-gritties. Among the many ways you can showcase your financial skills is by being staying abreast about the stock market, current bank interest rates etc. If as a student of finance, you do not know the latest market figures, getting any job will become difficult for you.

  1. Build Your Resume –How do you present your case to prospective employers without saying a word? CVs or resumes are made so that job seekers can highlight their qualifications and skills for better perusal. You should take your time to build a CV that’s interesting to read without being superfluous. If you haven’t yet written a CV, do so now. You can search online for tips to create an appealing CV.  You may also come across tools and websites that help you write a CV. However be wary of auto-created CVs. They will not present you uniquely. Only you can do so.

It is crucial to note the difference between CV and resume. You must understand that CVs or curriculum vitae is a longer version than a resume as it highlights everything – right from your educational qualifications to extracurricular activities and so on. A resume, on the other hand, is shorter, preferably one page that summarizes your skills and educational qualifications. It is advisable to prepare both since some companies ask only for a resume while others may ask for CVs.

  1. Be Digitally Active – One of the reasons why the world did not have to completely shut down its every business operation was because today we have the technology that empowers us to work anywhere, anyhow. It is due to this technological advantage that most companies have been operating without forcing their workforce to work from offices. It’s only because of the numerous digital platforms that schools and colleges have continued to run their classes, ensuring that education isn’t halted at any cost. Technology has been the biggest tool in our hands today that has saved a lot of stomachs from going hungry. As a millennial, ready to step into the world of business and employment, you cannot be digitally challenged. That’s not even an option any more.

You must be digitally diligent to as to use all kinds of technology with little assistance. In all likelihood, the work-from-home culture will continue for some more months, even if the cases of coronavirus infections lessen. This means that in 2021 when you get a job, you will work digitally, from your home. You must be prepared for it. Ask your seniors from college who started working professionally before the outbreak of the virus things you must know to work from home. Be adept in using spreadsheets, setting up and attending virtual conferences and in multi-tasking. These are the skills that will take your further next year.

  1. Expand Your Network – Gone are the days when a fresh college pass out would get a job of his liking without making much effort. Today you need to be pro-active and showcase your caliber, even before you start a real job. As a student, if you have until now not been active on professional networks or associated yourself closely with the industry, you must do so immediately. Join LinkedIn and start following the best of the best in the finance industry. Follow trending discussions, comment and engage in conversations so that you can expand your worldwide. The financial industry, as any other industry, is fast evolving. You must stay abreast with the changes as and when they happen.
  2. Freelance to Expand Your Knowledge – In 2021, employers will look for young candidates who are job ready. They will not want to spend time teaching the new kids on the block the tricks of the trade. So how do you equip yourself without getting a job? By freelancing. There are several opportunities for freelancers out in the market, even in these trying times. If you are good at your job and know how to meet deadlines and follow instructions, you can get lots of work right from the comfort of your home. In fact it is a good idea to explore freelancing opportunities right now when you are still at home, unable to actively look for jobs. Freelancing will open numerous windows of opportunities and will also teach you a lesson or two about work ethics and industry expectations. Remember, you will hardly be considered a newcomer when you freelance, especially if you behave and work professionally. This is the opportunity for you to put your best foot forward.

Be Prepared to Adapt

While you become job ready for a hopefully better 2021, you must also be open to change. We don’t know till now how the world will be once a vaccine for Covid-19 comes and everyone is vaccinated. We don’t know if that day is coming any time soon. We don’t know how long businesses will have to operate remotely. We don’t know how long the travel restrictions and social distancing norms will stay in place. But what we can guess is that the world is unlikely to be what it was in 2019. This year has shaken the normalcy of things so much so that we will all have to adapt to new norms in the coming days. We will all have to become more responsible, our attitude (towards our planet) will have to change. We will have to look deeper into ourselves and correct ourselves. All this is happening to a large extent right now, and they will evolve as time passes.

As a young adult, you will be expected to lead from the front. You will be expected to show how to adapt to change. You will have to be a forerunner by living a healthier lifestyle, by working more diligently and being more productive. So, if you are preparing for a job next year, you must change – your attitude and work ethics must improve for the better. A lackadaisal attitude will not pay you dividends. Buck up and storm right ahead. The world is waiting for a person like you!

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