The Future Women Leaders Forum (FWLF) 2021 took place virtually on 30 January 2021 and 6 February 2021. On the first Saturday, women leaders from various industries weighed in on topics such as Thriving Through Adversity and Ambiguity (Tan Su Shan), Emerging Trends and the Future of Work (Dr Ayesha Khanna, Dr Sigrid Rouam, Fang Eu-Lin), and Building An Authentic Personal Brand and Network (Feon Ang, Winnie Wong).
Speakers at FWLF’s first Saturday morning session
They shared some tips to undergraduates and fresh graduates on navigating career paths in the new normal:
Be authentic in your personal branding
Your personal brand is one of the ways you can differentiate yourself among the seven billion people on the planet. Defining your personal brand can start from an honest evaluation of your key values and principles. What are the values that you believe in and live by?
If you are struggling to define these values, you can start by asking your friends, families or colleagues on how they would authentically describe you. These values may change from time to time, but it is important to have clarity on what they are as they form the foundation of who you are. Once you clearly define them, find channels to communicate them to your target audience in a consistent manner.
Let your values drive your actions and decisions on a daily basis, and people will remember your personal brand and what you stand for over time. If you are a fresh graduate seeking your first job, you can let your personal brand shine through on your resume and LinkedIn profile to reach potential employers and recruiters. At the same time, live your brand through your actions and let people around you tell your story.
Set a vision
Where do you want to be in 5-10 years’ time? Only by having a clear vision can you then map ways to get there. It will also help you make decisions on what to pick up and prioritise along the way. Once you set your vision, commit to it.
Bear in mind that having a vision does not mean that you are confined to it. As we grow into the different phases of life, priorities and needs will change. As you are pursuing your vision, do take stock of your journey and re-assess if it is still something you want instead of dogmatically chasing something that is no longer your priority.
Learn and adapt fast
Adaptability Quotient, or the ability to adjust course when faced with unexpected changes, is key. This also means being able to take a step back, to reflect and calibrate - Is my way of doing things in line with the current new world? How can I be more in line with the current organisation’s new needs? Where else can I improve on?
Constantly reinvent yourself to stay current. Create a continuous path of constant learning to set yourself apart. The future marketplace is less about having a degree, and more about mindset and skill sets.
If you are a fresh graduate looking for a role without relevant experience, or an early career professional looking to switch careers, being interested in that field is insufficient. You need to know enough about the role and company to hold a conversation. Learn about the industry or domain, be curious, and network.
Build your network
Despite the limited social interactions in the post-pandemic world, networking has become even more important. Building your network can start from a simple step: reaching out. Often, people around you want to give back and be a part of your success
“All major decisions about your career will be made when you are not in the room.” - Carla Harris
As you build your network, it is important to seek advocates as well as to manage detractors. Having an awareness of negative perceptions towards you can help to better manage those perceptions by gaining clarity in: (1) what matters to you, and (2) who in your organisation embodies or expresses the values that represent you?
Once you have built your network, cultivate them by staying connected.
Be resourceful and be part of the solution
Creating solutions is an essential part of every job, no matter how big or small. It is thus not a surprise that while critical thinking is rarely on the job description, it is still part of the package that every employer expects from employees.
So how does one hone critical thinking skills, especially as a fresh graduate or perhaps someone with no relevant experience in the industry? Start by asking questions relevant to the organisation’s business needs - What is their goal? Where can I play a part? How can I contribute? Who can I ask for help?
There are many ways to showcase your initiative and sharpen your solutions-driven thought process. If you are looking to venture into data-related roles, start by volunteering for non-government organisations (NGOs) to analyse and create graphical representations of their data. Alternatively, you can download publicly-available data from the internet, create your own visualisation, and generate some insights.
By taking charge of your own learning and upskilling, you are sure to be a valuable asset to any organisation.
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Organising Committee: Recruitment