Even before the coronavirus crisis, there were people feeling unsure about navigating the future of work and staying relevant in a changing economy. In 2019, one global poll showed that 61% of respondents believed their current jobs would be impacted by technological changes and globalization. With the impact from COVID, it’s a good time to ponder emerging job opportunities. These do not just reflect hard technical skills; equally important are human-centric and soft skills. What does this mean for your career management?
Adopt a protean career.
A “protean career” is defined as a career that is driven by the individual and not by the organization. This drive is fueled by personal values, and where success is based on how satisfied you feel with life and work, not necessarily on money, power, or acclaim. A protean career remains in a state of constant readiness, and the individual is flexible in his or her career decisions.
Research reveals two specific competencies that help individuals to be more protean:
Reflect on your protean enablers.
How self-aware and adaptable are you? In a world that is dealing with both public health and economic challenges, coupled with rapidly-changing technology, having a secure personal base from which you can pursue your career is paramount. Ongoing reflection helps to better understand your own personal matrix of adaptability and self-awareness.
Ask yourself these questions to get started:
- Have I taken on different roles, projects, or assignments over the last few years?
- Do I have a network of relationships that both challenge and support my growth?
- Have I been consciously seeking learning opportunities?
- Have I been engaging in personal reflection?
While reflecting on these questions may not immediately safeguard you against – or prepare you for – technology, economic or crisis situations, it may help you think through what you consider to be important. When circumstances rapidly change, you have a compass to guide you, ensuring that even your most spontaneous career decisions are rooted in your values and aligned with your goals.
Go deeper in your self-reflection.
You may be at a juncture where a need exists to reevaluate and reflect upon the current status of your career choice, career path or external factors. This might be due to:
- Your readiness for a change
- Your being forced into a different situation due to economic changes
- Your readiness for upward mobility within your current profession
Self-reflection is crucial in career development and can occur at any time, whether intentional or forced due to unforeseen circumstances. Things to consider include:
- Current employment status
- Family considerations
- Career transition
- Career path clarification and options
- Economic changes
Self-reflection is the first step to planning and then action. Besides reflecting on your career path, reflect on yourself and your values, skills and loves.
Then set your goals. Figure out how to get to what you want. Use SMART goals as your guide. These are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goals. It’s important to write them down. Share them with someone you trust. This creates a sense of accountability.
The third step is to develop a plan. You know yourself and what you want to do. Your goals are in front of you. Here are some tips in forming your plan:
- Make a pros and cons list
- Evaluate how each path aligns with your values
- Think about the future consequences of each path
Think about how you spend your time now.
As the COVID pandemic sweeps the world, you may likely be home, figuring out how this works. You’re not alone; we all are. A few of my thoughts as I’ve pondered in my own self-reflection and work with clients:
- Take care of yourself. Don’t neglect your physical or mental health. Walks, yoga, jumping jacks, screaming – do what you have to do.
- Learn a new skill. You don’t have to learn a new language or anything overwhelming. Look up a topic in a book. Circle back to that online course you were interested in.
- Revisit that long-forgotten project. Maybe you have that recipe book you were compiling, that unfinished chair from your Grandma. A junk drawer waiting to be organized.
- Promote your talents online. Consider marketing yourself. Could you spruce up your social media profile? Do you have a website that needs to be updated? Have you been connecting with others on LinkedIn, phone, a letter, or in other ways?
- Think about your career plans. Day-to-day pre-COVID, it was perhaps easy to neglect long-term planning. We were so busy, it seemed. Maybe now is a good time to read a book about career planning, test out career options with online job simulations, contact a career coach (some have free initial consultations), or just brainstorm your present and future.
- Dust off and update your resume; then conduct informational interviews. This might be a good time to reach out to professionals who currently hold jobs of interest to you. In the midst of a pandemic, it’s not appropriate to ask them to meet up for coffee. But you can ask them for a quick phone call or Zoom call or Skype chat. The reality is they might be working from home too. They might be tickled to have more social contact. Informational interviews could be a great way to break isolation, learn about someone’s career, and build a network, while still keeping a distance.
- Do fun stuff. Close your eyes and think back to what gave you joy. Is there an old hobby you can pick up again? One upside of confinement is that you no longer need to spend time commuting back and forth. Can you reallocate that time to something that will bring you joy – or at least, ease stress?
It’s an extremely unsettled time for most of us. But there is something I wholeheartedly believe. Opportunities so often arrive woven deep into the fabric of challenges.
I always love to hear from you. Please comment below.