2020 has been a roller coaster of a year. Life as we once knew it has completely changed in a matter of months. As the world continues to experience a global pandemic, a lot of us are playing catch up and trying to get by. This pandemic has greatly impacted our daily lives, including our careers. Unfortunately, many jobs were lost due to the pandemic, as a lot of companies were facing financial pressures and had to trim their workforce. The workplace has transformed: a majority of employees have adjusted to their new work environment at home, and many companies are successfully operating remotely.
With all the changes and restrictions in the workforce, it is difficult to figure out how to grow in our careers. How does one navigate job seeking in this environment? How do we continue to develop our professional skills? How do we go about networking? What should we do with all this spare time? The truth is, there may never be a perfect answer to this, as we are learning and adjusting every single day. The best we can do is continue to push ourselves and recognize that we are not alone. The learning curve will make us stronger, and slowly but surely, we will get there.
So where do we go from here? Here are a couple of tips to get started!
Slow down and take a breath
This pandemic was a blessing in disguise for a lot of us, who lived a very fast-paced lifestyle. Early mornings, long commutes, long days at work, and then all over again the next day. We finally have some time to contribute to doing the things we love and spending time with our loved ones. Taking a well-deserved break or a nice walk around your local park can help clear your mind. It’s nice to mentally check out and get back into work with a fresh mind!
Re-evaluate your career plan
This is a great opportunity to sit down and re-evaluate your goals for your career. Are you happy in your current job? Are you being challenged enough? Is there another path you want to explore? What steps do you need to take to enter that field? This is the best time to figure out what you have always wanted to do.
Update your resume
Whether or not you are looking for a job, make sure to have an updated copy of your resume. You never know when an opportunity will knock at your door. Ideally, your resume should include your most recent work experience, including your achievements on the job. Hiring managers want to know what you have accomplished, so try and steer away from writing a job description. If you need to, start from scratch. Re-starting your resume will allow new ideas to flow through.
Designations, certifications, and courses
Many people have designations or certifications that they have wanted to pursue, but life may have gotten in the way. Now that travelling and big events are on hold, it’s a great time to look into the credentials you’ve always wanted to earn, as you’ll have ample time to study.
Speaking of studying, it’s also a great time to take a course or two, and LinkedIn has plenty of free courses related to professional development. In addition, there are websites such as Coursera that offer free courses in niche topics, such as “The Science of Well Being”, “Introduction to Personal Branding” and “International Women’s Health and Human Rights.” It may have nothing to do with your career, but that’s okay, since expanding your mind with knowledge is never a bad thing.
Networking has not disappeared. As in-person networking is on pause, we are finding new ways to network. There are plenty of ways to network online, including webinar sessions, workshops, job fairs and other online networking events. Make sure you check out the latest events on Eventbrite, a popular platform for online networking. LinkedIn is also an amazing resource, where you have access to thousands of professionals, who are sharing jobs, advice, information and ideas. Get involved and get your name out there!
You can also reach out to a professional who is in an industry you want to tap into. Make your message personal, be genuine and don’t be afraid to ask for help. You never know where these connections may lead, and your message might lead to a virtual coffee with that professional. Networking can be daunting, but you will never know if you don’t try. What’s the worst that can happen?
There are tons of organizations that are always looking for help. Yes, you don’t get paid, however the experience is priceless. You can do anything from being a mentor for new immigrants, to teaching someone a new skill. These are great opportunities to gain skills that you would not normally have access to in your 9-5 job. As a professional, it is vital that you keep exploring opportunities and improving your skills, and volunteering is one way to achieve that. You might even find a new role that you are passionate about! You also have the opportunity to meet like-minded professionals and grow your network across different fields. It’s a win-win situation.
Support one another
Now is truly the time to come together. There are a ton of people who are currently unemployed or looking for a job. If you are lucky enough to have a job, be grateful. You don’t realize the value of what you have until it’s gone. If you know someone who is looking for a job, spread the word to your network. Sometimes, word of mouth and a simple recommendation can do the trick. In addition to connecting people with job opportunities, you can help in other ways, such as guiding job-seekers with their job applications, or helping them run a mock-interview. Two heads are better than one, and you may have a suggestion that they might have missed!
Right now, a lot of people may be lacking motivation. You might be unsure of where to start, but don’t let the fear of starting something new stop you. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and take that first step. Adversity is truly the greatest teacher and our resilience has made us stronger. The best way to overcome challenging times is to redirect your energy: start investing in yourself and your career. Take this extra time to figure out what makes you happy. Eventually, everything will fall into place.
Written by: Dula Vigneswaran