Now that the COVID-19 pandemic has plunged the world into despondency and uncertainty, it’s easy to worry about your career prospects, feel risk-averse, and become inert.
However, if you could look beyond the short-term challenges, now’s a good time to take on new skills, tend to your network, and accelerate your long-term career prospects.
Here’s how to take a bit of initiative and think creatively about your career during the current lockdown.
- Reflect upon your goals for your life and career. Think clearly through the steps you must take to realize your aspirations.
- State clearly your aims. If you want to earn more or get a better responsibility, speak to your boss about what it’ll take to secure a promotion.
- Seek specific feedback, but don’t just reflect on the past. Asking for feedback puts you—not your boss—in the driver’s seat. Ask lots of questions and decide what you could do to make a positive change.
- Redefine your goals at work. Identify worthwhile measures of success. Agree on targets that stretch but don’t strain.
- Work with your boss to find gaps in your experience. Find projects where you could develop and use those skills.
- Don’t try to do everything. Prioritize. Ask yourself, “Where do my strengths lie?” Focusing on one or two areas could help you isolate and sharpen the necessary skills to move up.
- Seek out new opportunities. Be alert to points of diminishing returns on learning new skills.
- Take the lead on a project that others don’t find particularly interesting (see Theo Epstein’s 20 Percent Rule.) You could not only learn by way of broader experiences and gain confidence but also become more visible to management and situate yourself for a promotion.
- Offer to share responsibility. Take an interest in your colleagues’ work. You could win over grateful allies and open up new opportunities within your company.
- Reevaluate what’s essential. To the extent possible, divest yourself of the boring, time-wasting, frivolous, and worthless—anything that doesn’t “move the ball down the field.”
- Pursue side projects. Cultivating knowledge and trying out new skills during your free time is a definite path to career reinvention.
- Seek out mentors. Make the right contacts. Bear in mind, those who influence decisions may not necessarily be the ones at the top.
- Begin actively networking. It’s never late to put together a range of experts whose knowledge and experience you could tap into.
Idea for Impact: Mulling over how to improve yourself and enhance your career is a great shelter-in-place project. As President Dwight D. Eisenhower once declared, “Plans are useless but planning is indispensable.”