How to kick start your career
If 2020 has left you feeling like your career has been put on hold, you are definitely not alone. The pandemic has been tough in the workplace and many people have prioritised job survival over satisfaction. As we start the new year, it is your chance to take stock and reflect on how you move forwards in your career. Whether you lost your job or have been stuck in a position that you hate for too long, now is the time to think about what a fulfilling career means to you and just how you can achieve it.
Have a big dream by all means but break it up into achievable, smaller steps. Hitting regular goals will help motivate you and keep you on track and eventually, those huge changes you wanted to make won’t seem so unrealistic.
Love it or hate it, networking is an important part of the career success process. The pandemic has opened up paths that may have been closed to you before and more people are willing to pay it forward and help someone, either through passing on your details or just a little word of advice. Now is a great time to up your networking game with many events happening online so it is easy and affordable to join in. You may meet someone who can be your coach, give you a job or help with your CV. Look at professional organisations and even your university alumni associations. Networking websites such as LinkedIn or Meetup will also have an array of virtual gatherings.
For many, homeworking is set to continue for a little while longer and to avoid burnout, it is important to set work-life boundaries. You can’t hope to move on with your career if you are going to feel frazzled by the second week of January so establish how you are going to work with your employer, family and yourself. If you are in employment but looking to set up on your own or are wanting a new position, you need to set aside time to make this happen. Think about the options open to you, part-time or flexible working arrangements may not have been on the cards before but now are a real possibility.
Learn a new skill
Put your evenings to good use and learn a new skill that will add a valuable boost to your CV. There are many online courses available that can either directly help you with your chosen career or may give you an insight into doing something completely different. Your employer may be able to help with costs as part of your ongoing development with the company and there are also a number of starter level free courses available with the Open University.
Show your worth
While not being in the office, it may feel harder to prove that you are promotion material. However, the key to showing leadership is to be proactive. Look for opportunities and ways to make contributions rather than always waiting to be told what to do. Show that you are available for supporting other team members and look for the gaps and see if you can fill them. The fact that you are looking beyond your own job will show that you have right attitude to become a leader.
If you are between jobs or just have some extra time on your hands, try and secure some volunteer work. By aligning yourself to an organisation you want to work for, this is a great way of getting familiar with your next possible job opportunity. There are many skills to be learnt from working in a volunteer capacity and at the very least, it will show a good work ethic on your CV.
Carve out your career
The ability to adapt, learn and understand how you can design a career of your choosing will help you build a path to a successful and happy work life. In today’s climate, a big part of this will be your ability to pivot and adapt. Although this phrase was something once associated with the start-up world, thanks to the pandemic, it is now par for the course and looks set to continue beyond Covid. One upside is that it is now much easier to switch careers and explore new horizons; we no longer have to be pigeon-hold into boxes that we have outgrown as we have all proved that we can be adaptable. Pre-pandemic, a manager may have thought twice about a candidate from anther sector, but now massive job shifts will be the norm.
Take the leap
Go for opportunities even if you don’t think you are quite ready. You may not be able to do all aspects of a job but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn. Understanding your worth and what you can ultimately bring to a role will give you the confidence to go for every opportunity that comes your way. Women are less likely to take career opportunities unless they are a 100% qualified, which means that they can miss out on both financial and personal growth. In this current climate, you may have to take on work that doesn’t serve your long-term plans but you can still learn from this and help you to future proof your career.
Career building tips
- Learn from past mistakes. If you want different results then you must behave differently.
- Keep an open mind. No one could have predicted 2020 so don’t close yourself off to any possibilities.
- Do not be afraid of failure. If you fall, pick yourself up and keep going one step at a time.
- Put yourself out there. Use all social platforms and use your unique talents to build your own platform.
- Follow your passion. A hobby could create a lifestyle business or be the thing that ignites a new career path.
- Pay it forwards. A like on social media, writing a testimonial or reference or putting someone’s name forwards for a freelance role can make a huge difference to an individual’s career with very little effort from you.