Maximise your career success during downtime

With a lot of people suddenly finding they have time on their hands – whether that’s because they’ve been furloughed as a result of the current coronavirus issue, or because their business has ground to a halt – it’s a good time to reflect on and take stock of your career.

Don’t force yourself – we’re all in a period of adjustment right now. But when you’re in the right mental space to do this, here are my tips for maximising your career success during the current lockdown.

Use the downtime for a career spring clean

Reflect on your career and try to capture the positive things you’ve achieved. Make a list that you can refer back to when you next have an interview. Focus on when you made the difference and who to. How did you do that?

Have a think about what you’ve learned as well. Maybe a particular project wasn’t a roaring success, but what did you learn on reflection? What would you have done differently? Did you figure out something about how or when you work best? Or maybe about how to better engage with other people? Make a note of these success stories, as it’s easy to forget over time.

Create or add to your career smile file

Gather together a smile file – that’s a folder where you can keep things to remind you that you’ve done a good job. You might need a couple, for example a folder in your inbox for emails plus perhaps a physical one if you have cards or notes people have sent.

Use your smile file when you’re feeling a bit down, or when your imposter is turning up the volume and whispering nasty things in your ear about you being a failure and not good enough. It will serve as a reminder that’s not the case. The human brain has a negative bias, so it’s important to remind ourselves of the positives to balance out the negative stuff.

Refresh your CV and LinkedIn profile

The downtime could provide an opportunity to do some of the things you have put off for a while at home but is also a chance to refresh and tidy up your  CV and LinkedIn profile. Take some time to make sure they are all up to date and think about the personal brand you want to put across and align your profile and description of your experience with this.

If you are impacted by this situation, it could be a good time to seek recommendations from people you’ve worked with or for. In addition, you could look to  give  recommendations to colleagues, clients or suppliers who would really appreciate them right now as everyone transitions through this changing employment landscape.

Spend just 10 minutes each day commenting on posts that interest you, reading and commenting on articles and sharing things that you think others will find useful. LinkedIn is for engagement, so use the opportunity to build up your connections and your relationship with people.

Connect with your network

We’re blessed to be going through lockdown in a time when technology allows us to easily stay in touch with people. So arrange some virtual coffees (cake optional, but it could be a home ec lesson for the kids!) and just reconnect with people you haven’t seen for too long, or have been meaning to catch up with. Keeping in contact with your network is important for future opportunities when we  come out of the other side.

Assess your PDP

If you have a personal development plan now’s a good time to review it, see what you can do to help you meet your current goals and consider what new ones might be. If you haven’t completed some of your actions in the plan that will help you achieve  your objectives  perhaps now you have the time to do that.

Or if being at home has helped you reflect on what direction you’d like your career to go, you can plan some goals to help you achieve that. There’s no harm in asking if your manager has time for an informal chat to help you shape something. I’m sure they’ll appreciate your proactivity!

Do some professional learning

We have a plethora of resources at our fingertips, so whatever your preferred learning style there will be a way for you to top up your skills and knowledge right now.

Find a huge selection of audiobooks on Audible (and there are free stories for kids – and the young at heart – on their special website here right now).

Explore podcasts and find a topic that interests you. From psychology to building a business, why we sleep to positive mindsets you’ll find something that interests you.

Ted Talks are an ideal resource, presented in an easy-to-understand, storytelling style. Some of my favourites are Amy Cuddy’s one about body language and  GRIT the power of passion and perseverance by Angela Duckworth, but I guarantee there will be something to interest you.

The internet is filled with online courses and articles that will relate to your area of specialism, so explore your professional body’s website and any trade magazines for your sector as well as places like Harvard Business Review and Forbes for some of the latest thinking.  Some people are taking the opportunity to learn a new language, take up a new skill or take a leadership course online.

If you want some help to work through your career options, give me a call on 07765 894040 to book your free chemistry session – I can do all of my career coaching via Zoom, Skype or other video call, so there’s no barrier to getting the help you need even while we’re in lockdown.

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