Strategic career planning is so incredibly hard, if not impossible, these days. I, for one, prefer to only think a day (or a few hours) ahead right now, lest my reaction to this pandemic mirror that of the brilliant music teacher in this now-viral video.
Yet there are times when I do feel motivated to move the career needle forward. You’ve probably found yourself on this blog because you’re passionate about your career – in addition to your parenthood. And those passions are still there underneath all this childcare-less corona virus mess. I promise they are.
I feel pretty lucky to live with an awesome career coach. My husband, Jason Levin, of Ready Set Launch LLC, and I decided to tag-team on this blog post to bring you some concrete career advancement tips for this crazy time.
9 Career Tips for the COVID-19 Chaos
- Be kind to yourself. We are all freaking out right now. Yes, you heard right. Those who don’t have any career-related anxiety whatsoever are few and far between these days. You’re worried. And your boss is worried. Your boss’s boss is worried. And your direct reports are worried. Your next door neighbor is worried. And your sister’s husband’s uncle is worried. Don’t take anything personally that happens career-wise. It’s not you. It’s the pandemic.
- Remind yourself of times you’ve navigated uncertainty. This isn’t the first time you didn’t know what was going to happen next in your career, right? I know, I know. I’m such a planner, that I’d prefer to be able to map out the next year or so of my life in excruciating detail. But if I’m honest with myself, I haven’t previously been able to predict the future very well. And somehow I made it through. Reminding yourself of other times you’ve navigated unclear waters can remind you that you do have the skills to do it again.
- Thank a mentor. Take a minute to think about all the people who have been helpful in your own career. Now reach out to one of them and show appreciation for how they helped you move forward. There are good reasons a gratitude practice is touted as a useful mental health tool. And there’s no reason not to carry this gratitude practice into the career parts of your life.
- Mentor someone. I get it. We have negative time in our days right now, what with working, and home-schooling, and child-chasing, and breaking up sibling fights. And yet, helping others actually helps us to feel better when we’re in distress. Can you spend 30 minutes mentoring a more junior colleague this week or next?
- Say hello to the elephant in the room. During this pandemic, perhaps in ways we haven’t seen before, it is truly okay to say that you’re not okay. Acknowledge the pandemic and the destruction it’s wreaking on your household. Name the COVID elephant in the room. No stiff upper lips needed right now.
- Resumes are about achievements, not laundry lists of activities. Have you ever seen a resume that simply listed the 10 things you did at each job and read like a job description? The point of a resume is to articulate the specific, concrete accomplishments you dazzled your organization with. Not to list the dozen tasks you often completed.
- LinkedIn is where it’s at. Please, pretty please, be on LinkedIn. Jason was an incredibly early adopter of the platform back at a time when I was in law school and didn’t see the point. But now being a convert, I can see that LinkedIn is truly THE professional networking medium of our generation. If you’re not there, set up a profile. Insert a professional head shot. Customize your URL so it’s not a series of random numbers. (For example, mine is here and uses my full name. Go ahead and Link-in with me, too…I’ll accept your invitation to connect if you mention Mindful Return in the connection note.)
- Put yourself out there. If ever the thought crosses your mind that you aren’t well known for what you’d like to be known for, or a certain opportunity hasn’t ever come your way, raise your hand. Want to be on a panel? Volunteer to put one together. Interested in a particular area within your company or practice? Ask if there’s a project you can get involved with in that area.
- Don’t do this alone. We’re not meant to parent alone. Or grieve alone. Or job search alone. Whether you’re contemplating next steps or you’re actively job searching, it pays to have an accountability posse. Partner with a friend with whom you can check in frequently. Work with a coach on strategy, resume, and tactics. There are no gold medals for “I did this myself.”
Looking for more career-related wisdom? Jason and I recently teamed up for a few webinars on career-related topics, for which replays are now available:
- Managing Your Career During COVID: An Open Coaching Dialog
- Help! I Might Get Laid Off (Or Already Did): An Open Coaching Dialog
And if you’re considering hiring a coach, feel free to reach out to Jason at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free 30-minute consult.
Somehow we will get through this. Together. One foot in front of the other.
Want more practical tips on working parenthood? Check out my book, Back to Work After Baby: How to Plan and Navigate a Mindful Return from Maternity Leave
This post was very helpful. I have been working from home since March 2020 after being on maternity leave for 3 months. Every day has been different and I am constantly questioning what career moves I can/need to make to be the best mama I can be.
So glad you found it helpful, Gabrielle. This is a time where I think we are all asking ourselves those very questions about what the right moves are. Best of luck with your decisions, and glad to have you in this community.