Making the Most of Lockdown: How to Develop Market-Competitive Skills

market competititve skills


Have you had the feeling in the last couple of weeks that you were losing control? As the spread of the COVID-19 virus continues, most governments worldwide are enforcing strict social distancing guidelines. Currently, more than one fifth of the global population is under lockdown. Meanwhile, the impact of the pandemic has already had a huge toll on the global economy with many businesses filing for bankruptcy and companies having to lay off employees. As the biggest questions of “When will this end?” and “When can we go back to normal?” remain unanswered, many people have been battling with an increasing sense of anxiety.

Taking Care of Our Mental Health

We can define anxiety as the “anticipatory representations of possible (that is, uncertain) future events”. This means that what you are feeling right now is completely normal. Moreover, the American Psychiatric Association has reported that a staggering “one-third of Americans (36%) say coronavirus is having a serious impact on their mental health.” No matter whether your worst fear is contracting the virus or losing your financial security, you are definitely not alone. Acknowledging these concerns is the first step in unburdening ourselves from the worst of our anxieties. Moreover, sharing how we deal with them engenders a sense of community that can be an immense source of strength for many.

You Can Take Back Control

There are of course a lot of ways how you can feel more in control. However, there is one particular solution that can not only take your mind off of your worries, but help you on the long term as well! “Scienta potentia es” says the quote attributed to Sir Francis Bacon, a 16th century philosopher. If you are like me and your Latin is between a little rusty to nonexistent, you might be more familiar with the English version, which says: “knowledge is power.” So instead of pondering on what you can’t help, why not refocus those energies onto things you can actually change! And the best and easiest example of that? That’s right, it all starts with you!

What to Do With All That Extra Time on Your Hands

If you are currently under a lockdown, chances are that you are having a lot more free time on your hands than usual. Look at that, we all lost our Number 1 excuse for why we never learn all our dream skills we have been talking about for years. Take this time for what it really is: a unique opportunity for you to focus on self-development! If you have a working computer and a reasonably fast internet connection, you are all set to embark on your very own learning journey. The best part about it is that you can decide exactly where you want this route to take you. 

yoga at home

You might be already set on a new healthy regime complete with regular exercises. If not, for that purpose you can find tons of at home work-outs. For example, you might want to take a look at the rightfully popular Yoga with Adriene or the remarkably effective Chloe Ting. “Mens sana in corpore sano”  goes another famous Latin saying, meaning that “a healthy mind in a healthy body.” With the release of all that dopamine and serotonin cursing through your body as a result of your physical efforts, now it’s going to be so much easier to put your sharpened focus to your next step of self-empowerment!

Secure Your Future With Learning New Skills

How secure are you in your current job? That is a question that keeps a lot of people up at night these days. Yet, even if you feel that your position is set in stone, it is always worth it, if you have a plan B to fall back on to. For that, let’s take a look at the top 10 skills companies are on the lookout when they want to hire new employees.

#1 Data Literacy

#2 Critical Thinking

#3 Tech Savviness

#4 Adaptability and Flexibility

#5 Creativity

#6 Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

#7 Cultural Intelligence and Diversity

#8 Leadership Skills

#9 Judgment and Complex Decision Making

#10 Collaboration

Are these what you expected? Of course, some of the aforementioned skills will come to you with years of hard earned experience playing your part in the workforce. On the other hand, you can spend your newfound time to focus on the skills about which you can find a wealth of knowledge out there!

Data Is the New Oil

While you definitely won’t be able to start your car with it, data and the ability to harvest and understand it can be a tremendous asset for your career! It doesn’t matter whether you work in marketing, recruitment, sales or customer service, you’d better start befriending those pesky numbers. 

Are you still wondering how understanding data can help you? First of all, numbers translate better as facts than simple word by word explanation. While the latter is up for individual interpretation, it is not so easy to say the same about numbers. If you know exactly what is expected of you  (you can call said expectations as Key Performance Indicators, Service Level Agreements, or simply, what is written in your job description), you can make sure to better present your performance by providing some statics for support.

Furthermore, data can not only save you from some uncomfortable questions from your superiors and clients alike, but can also help you to gain a better understanding about the business you are in. Take the simple task of looking at your peaks and throughs. The correlations between all that information can show you how to adapt your way of working to optimize your processes. See how easy it can be?  Well done, you are already doing data analytics! If you decide to embark on this paradigm shift and learn more about how to best utilize data, there are dozens of sites that can assist you in your endeavor.  For example, Pluralsight, one of the more technical online educational giants out there, is currently providing a free trial until the end of April!

Be That One Person on Your Team

Which one you say? That tech savvy one, who seems to know about a little bit of everything, of course. While most companies have at least one dedicated system administrator, they are usually quite busy with a lot of people vying for their support. Of course, no one expects you to be able to build a computer from scratch or to suddenly learn how to fix a hard drive. What you can (more easily) do is to learn a myriad of small things that count as surprisingly valuable skills on the job market today.


Nearly every employer out there lists the knowledge of Microsoft Office on their list of desired skills. In reality, this doesn’t mean that you have to be an expert in all the individual pieces of the software package. However, knowing your way around a couple could place you way higher on the pipeline than the average candidate. As an example, let’s go back to data analytics. Instead of starting with SQL or Power BI, you can start with gaining some proficiency with Excel. Try learning some of the most popular functions like CHOOSE, VLOOKUP,  or IFERROR. If you can throw in a pivot table with your other new tricks, it’s all the better!

Be the one who can make awesome PowerPoint presentations! It not only might already be a requirement for your job interview, but later on you will be able to position yourself in your team as the one others can count on when there is an upcoming major meeting or pitch. Your supervisor will definitely take note not only of your zest, but your amazing skills as well. Remember #3, #5 and #10? Tech savviness, creativity and collaboration go splendidly together and can help you in the competition to distinguish yourself.

One Small Step Can Lead to a Giant Leap

With all that’s been going on, there’s one thing you need to remember. You can find self-empowerment and security within skills and knowledge — the ones that you already have and  those you are certainly able to gain! Remember #4 on our list? Adaptability and Flexibility might even climb higher in ranking as we continue to deal with the pandemic and preparing for a post-coronavirus world.

The new weave of tech revolution nicked as the Industry 4.0 has been already changing the landscape of all the markets. This pandemic might just give the most essential kick of motivation for many to jump onto the wagon. There is no question that we will still have to brave some uncertainties for the future. However, with all this extra time on our hands, we also have a better chance to prepare for what is to come. Then why not start today? 

Orsi Horváth
Orsi Horváth
Orsi is a Hungarian native. She studied English and Journalism at ELTE. In the last 8 years she has worked in several different tech industries as well as in recruitment. Nowadays, she is a content creator, who is most excited about innovation, connection and the human touch.

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