Planning Your Career Beyond Covid-19

COVID-19 has impacted many aspects of our lives both personally & professionally.  I am taking this opportunity to offer some words of wisdom to those of you who may feel ‘stuck’ at the moment. Whether you are employed, partially employed, underemployed, seeking a promotion, or a student looking to get their foot on a currently ‘elusive’ career ladder we are here to help. I have prepared the following advice based on our experience of coaching clients over the past 12 years.  Most recently I have had some interesting one-to-one sessions with clients who have had to ‘brave’ their approach to career planning and who have had to make some life-changing decisions about the next steps of their career journey.  This is not an easy thing to do and I am the first to recognise that some people find ‘pivoting’ and adapting to change easier than others.  Carole Dweck’s research into the influence of ‘mindset’ explains that people who have a ‘fixed mindset’ have a certain way of looking at the world and are often resistant to change; preferring the safety and security of ‘the status quo’.  Others of us demonstrate a ‘growth mindset’ and this type of mindset is more open to change, growth, and even productive self-criticism.  The key to offsetting the effects of the fixed mindset lies in the following:

  • Realising that a change is necessary and you will benefit from the experience
  • Developing an awareness of your strengths and weaknesses
  • Gaining ‘small wins’ as you begin to explore new and unfamiliar opportunities
  • Having a support network (many people opt for a coach)
  • Having access to all the information you need to make informed decisions

Once you have achieved a level of stability around your career planning taking the next steps will be easy because you have created a structure that will support you as you navigate your new journey.  

Career Coaching

From my perspective career coaching is one of the most powerful tools available to anyone who finds themselves at a crossroads in their career.  It’s something that worked well for me personally when I was reimagining my career as an adult learner many moons ago. The beauty of career coaching is that it’s entirely driven by the client and the client can choose the format, frequency, and context of each coaching session.  Our coaching sessions tend to be dynamic and outcomes-focused with the client taking anywhere between 1 – 4 sessions.  Each session lasts for  1-2 hours but we don’t waste your time if you book for 2 hours and we only chat for 1.5 hours, we’ll reschedule the remaining time for a follow-up. Follow-up coaching sessions are great because they have a level of accountability built in – a bit like attending a weight loss programme with Slimming world. That’s what makes coaching work;  you set a goal and the coach’s job is to hold you accountable – sounds easy right?  Some areas that Career Coaching can help with include:

  • Gain confidence and develop the skill of ‘selling yourself’
  • Develop a standout CV that will appeal to hiring managers
  • Complete a skills audit to figure out how your skills will transfer to another industry
  • Self-manage your career transition & promote yourself more effectively
  • Showcase your skills and abilities using techniques that get you noticed
  • Cultivate or expand your professional network
  • Transform your online professional presentation and amplify your social message
  • Develop interviewing skills and strategies to guarantee  that ‘job win’

Getting Started – Here are my top tips for getting started if you have decided that a career change is necessary for whatever reason.

Keep your options and interests open. 

Don’t be afraid to explore job opportunities that you may not have previously considered; be open-minded in looking beyond your industry or sector.  Look at areas that are likely to experience growth during and beyond the pandemic. Look for volunteering opportunities that may help you develop skills that are transferable to the work you hope to do in the future.

Learn about the changing jobs market. 

The jobs market worldwide is changing rapidly in response to Covid-19.  Google things like ‘future skills’ or ‘employment trends’ and see what employers are looking for right now and into the future.  The world economic forum is a great source of information on this topic.  I also find that LinkedIn has its finger on the pulse for this type of information – my recommendation is to become a frequent user.  LinkedIn is most effective when you interact with other users and follow organisations regularly.

Continue to connect with your professional network even remotely.

Be proactive and reach out to your network (and new networks) even during this challenging time. The world hasn’t stopped turning and employers want to hear from motivated, committed, and enthusiastic individuals – the physical distance is making it more challenging to make connections. As mentioned in the previous point – LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram are good places to interact and connect with professional networks.

Sign up for online training, webinars, and workshops.

Identify skills or knowledge gaps that you could improve through training and ultimately enhance your appeal to future employers.  There are many great opportunities out there right now for you to avail of.  You will enhance your CV, use your downtime wisely, and ultimately impress an employer with your focus on self-improvement and goal setting.

Take care of yourself. 

This advice is most important – we are in a global crisis that will come to an end now that vaccines are being rolled out.  Many of my clients have said in the past that they wished they had enjoyed the downtime between jobs or between college and work.  These clients often report that they spent so much time worrying about their career that it left no time to enjoy ‘the present’.  My advice is the same now as it was before the pandemic; choose a timeframe in your week where you will commit to career enhancement activities – it could be a few hours a week to a couple of days per week.  Once you have made that commitment stick to the schedule so that outside of that time, you can enjoy all the other aspects of your life that are equally as important including personal relationships, family, hobbies, pets, fitness, entertainment etc.  Be kind to yourself and take time to rest, eat well, and take regular exercise. Remember to connect with family and friends in any way that you can and most of all trust that things will work out in the end.

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Janet Tumulty 29.3.21