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NEW DELHI : The ongoing job crises constantly remind Ashutosh Vyas of the hard times he went through during the 2008 recession. He had just started working as a sales executive in Bengaluru’s Barclays when the financial disaster hit the world. Soon, he, like many others, was without a job, and realized that the formula for a secured future—studying hard, cracking exams and finding a well-paying job—was not exactly true.

“I did all of the things that Indian parents expect their child to do. But the future, or rather, the job was never secure. I decided to refocus, started studying and enrolling for courses on marketing and innovation and that helped me turn my life around," says Vyas, 39, who now works as a business growth consultant in Udaipur.

As the world figures out a new normal, anxiety levels around job security, salaries and the future, as a whole, continue to rise. Experts say that instead of worrying about the uncertainty, people should focus on doing what they always planned to do, build that skill, reach out to their network and make a solid plan for the next step in their career, even if it is not a vertical change.

“It is always a good time to look at transitioning, but especially so when you have been put on a break. This gives you time to re-evaluate where you stand, to think about your strengths and plan accordingly," explains Joel Paul, general manager (India), RiseSmart, a career transition service provider.

For Vikram Poddar, the 2009 job loss in a management consulting firm meant a combination of feelings—denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally, acceptance. He continued to do interviews, hid the news of the job loss from parents and met as many recruiters as he could. Deciding to not let the time go to waste, he joined a toastmasters club and brushed up on his public speaking skills. This, in retrospect, comes quite handy in his current role as a corporate stand-up comic.

“I have realized two things: When you don’t have an option, you will hustle and hustle hard. And two, if you work hard enough, you will be able to get over a lot of other shortcomings. I went on to join a marketing role and learnt only on the job. I cracked one of the biggest deals there and was always scared that people would know I don’t belong here," says Poddar, 37.

According to career transition coach Shafali Sinha, a lot of active experimentation is required before finally deciding on a role that one is suited for, and one that will also create value for companies going forward.

“This requires being able to do an honest assessment of what one is capable of, what his/ her personality type is and what is the transferability of your skills. Use tools to learn. Use your networks where needed. But remember mere networking will not help, because shifting of roles involves a shifting of connections as well," says Sinha.

Making the move sometimes takes longer than expected. Having worked in the manufacturing industry for some years, Sudeepta Sahu, 33, was shocked to lose her job in 2012. After all, her friends were still working and there was no recession to blame. But after the initial anxiety, she realized that it was not her fault. She completed an MBA, worked in a few more companies in the manufacturing unit before realizing that she did not just want to scale and build teams for others, but do it for herself as well. In 2019, Sahu launched healthy snacks startup, SnackPot.

“You have to be optimistic, open to opportunities and learn to adapt well. There are enough jobs out there, but you need to figure out your own bandwidth. When you go for interviews, you will be asked about the gap in your resume and the reason for leaving the job. You will have to be honest. But make sure you work on your skills around that time," says Sahu.

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