Needless to say, the pandemic has caused many plans to take a backseat. Organisations have had to pause hiring, rethink business models, while professionals may have found themselves searching for new jobs. In fact, the unemployment rate, which rose to 3.6% in September 2020, had already surpassed the highest recorded during the peak of the global financial crisis.
Now that the pandemic is slowing down, what sort of changes can we expect in our careers? An unprecedented event such as this can shake up our routines and nudge us out of our comfort zones, leading us to think about what is or isn’t important in our careers.
Have a delayed promotion or raise? Didn’t get the new job? Even though the pandemic is a significant disruptor, there are several ways you can continue building skills, experience, and growing your network so that you can jump on opportunities that come post-pandemic when companies recover.
1. Identify how you’d like to develop and grow your career
First, it’s important to understand what you’re working towards. The next step in your career can take the form of several different options. Is it a new role at a different company? Is it a promotion within your company? Are there aspects in your current role that you’d like to focus on?
Once you’ve identified focus points, you can work on building a development plan. This could include upskilling, starting a new project, or arranging Have these at the top of your mind as you embark on your career planning pursuits.
2. Get comfortable with liminality
The ‘in-between’ stage of a past that is clearly gone and a future that is uncertain — referred to as liminality — can be advantageous if you are in the process of a career change.
Many find it unpleasant, as they oscillate between ‘holding on’ and ‘letting go’ but the downtime is how you can consolidate and integrate learning points, plan for the future and recreate your sense of self. Reflect on your working experience, sieve out the instances where you enjoyed your role, and incorporate them into shaping your new plans. Identify the positive and negative experiences. These are beneficial to redefining your professional identity and should be a part of any significant change. It’s vital that you find what works for you in combating these pandemic stressors. When you’re at a turning point as significant as this, using this downtime to reassess your career goals can be enlightening.
3. Meet with your manager to discuss short & long-term goals
Spearhead your career growth by taking charge of the situation. One of the ways to do this is to set up a meeting with your manager to discuss your future goals and how you may achieve them.
Because many companies are facing financial stresses during the pandemic, it’s necessary to keep your expectations realistic. Use the meeting as an opportunity for open dialogue: asking for more responsibilities, volunteering for stretch projects, and pitching new ideas could help you develop as a professional. If you’ve been scheduled for a stay interview with your manager, it’s also a great time to have this discussion.
Having open communication will allow your manager to keep you in mind for new opportunities. It’s also essential that you by following up on these goals and putting in the work necessary.
4. Expand your network within & beyond the company
Having a wide and strong network is key to your career growth. Even though many are now working from home, you can still reach out to superiors within your department or the company through virtual meetings and teleconferencing tools such as Slack. Improving your connections within the company can enhance your visibility at work.
Likewise, attending virtual events can introduce you to professionals from other industries, growing your network and positioning you for a future promotion or job elsewhere. The post-pandemic workplace might see much less interaction but it shouldn’t stop you from setting up a virtual coffee to network!
5. Kickstart planned & new projects
Relooking at your career plans almost always involves a side project or two; whether that includes part-time courses to hone your skillset or an independent pet project.
The circumstances of the post-pandemic environment have made it easier to allocate time and resources to projects or courses you’ve had your eye on. From listening to podcasts and reading self-development books, to working on a new skill, you can begin setting yourself up for success by chipping away at your career growth goals bit by bit.
If there is one thing you need to remember during this time of reinvention, it is flexibility. Keeping an open mind as you work on your career growth plans can reveal new opportunities and discoveries that you may have otherwise not realised.