It is clearly too soon to declare an end to Covid-19. While populations are getting vaccinated and some countries are opening up, others are reinstituting stricter pandemic mitigation measures.
If you still perceive the virus as merely a temporary hindrance to your career growth plans and are waiting it out, you need to rethink your approach. Amid the continuing uncertainty, it’s time to accept the fact that things are not likely to go back to normal.
The pandemic might have derailed many professionals’ careers, but it has also been a time for reflection and in some cases, profound realisations.
So how can you use these to embrace the uncertainty, resume control of your career and chart your future?
1. Ask Yourself if You Want to Stay Where You Are
If you’ve managed to hang on to your job in spite of Covid-19’s impact on the economy, you’ve probably been told countless times that you’re fortunate and should count your blessings.
But the pandemic has also exposed deficiencies in companies’ leadership and values.
Were your leaders unable to handle the pressures posed by the pandemic? Instead of exhibiting strength, empathy and transparency, did they retreat and become less visible? It’s time for you to decide whether you want to continue working with individuals who did the latter.
It’s also common for a company’s crisis response to diverge from its articulated core values. As the pandemic sent many companies scrambling, trust, respect and teamwork could either have been strengthened or forgotten. In survival mode, did management focus solely on quick business decisions rather than behaviours that in fact would have eased adapting to change and overcoming challenges?
These companies will eventually realise the trade-off between quick wins and adhering to their core values. Companies that are driven only by opportunities rather than a commitment to a strong foundation and an enduring and healthy corporate culture built on trust and authenticity are probably not worth your time. This might be the perfect time to look for opportunities elsewhere.
2. Cast Your Net Wider
While many jobs have been lost, the pandemic has undeniably created many opportunities as well. For instance, we have found that companies are now more open to hiring remote employees in other countries. Because WFH arrangements have been proven to be feasible for many job roles, you can cast your net wider in terms of overseas job opportunities.
Also, more companies are now looking to hire specialists on a contract or project basis as part of a hybrid workforce of full-time employees and skilled contract professionals. This approach allows firms of various sizes in any industry to “upsize” or “downsize” based on dynamic demands.
This is an opportunity for professionals to consider whether their skills can enable them to do contract or project work in other industries. Taking on multiple projects allows you to explore several possibilities at once, comparing and contrasting the pros and cons of each.
We have found that professionals are even willing to take a cut in earnings in order to explore new opportunities that could lead to career growth insofar as cultivating experience in new and growing industries.
3. Map Your Skills
In order to better identify opportunities, mapping your current skills is vital. What transferable skills do you have right now that can enable you to take on jobs or projects outside your current job scope?
Once you’ve come up with a list, research jobs that require skills that overlap with yours.
Among these jobs, there might be some that you really want to try out, but for which you lack a few skills and competencies. If so, don’t hesitate to close the gaps through upskilling and reskilling.
In fact, in an era of ubiquitous change, you should do a skills audit every year and commit to continual upskilling and reskilling in order to further increase your career options.
4. Start Projects You’ve Always Wanted to Start
Doing something on the side can help you discover your strengths and weaknesses, and likes and dislikes.
Perhaps you’ve always wanted to start an industry blog or volunteer for a social service organisation. Such work would enable you to cultivate knowledge, skills, and relationships that could not only help you make a more defined career change in the future, but also learn more about yourself and how you can best make valuable contributions personally and professionally.
This way, should another crisis threaten to derail you, you’ll always have options to explore – grow a side project or tap on your network for career opportunities.