career during a pandemic

Last week I began to explore the different ways in which women are rethinking our careers and reassessing what’s important. This week I’m exploring the question of ‘how can I progress my career?’. And whilst this question is not a new one, the challenges of career progression during a pandemic are. So keep reading for some timeless wisdom, as well as some context-specific tips.

Know what you want

I know it sounds obvious, but for many of us, we wonder ‘how can I progress my career?’, without necessarily knowing what the next step is.

So before you set about taking action, you need to define what career progression and success looks like for you.

To do this I recommend completing a visioning exercise so you have clarity on what you want from your career and indeed your life, in the next 10 year. (This exercise will help you do that).

Once you know your longer-term career objective, fill in the gaps between where you want to be and where you are now. This will become a roadmap and the basis for your career development plan. Consider:

  • What are the logical career steps?
  • What roles would give you the skills and experience needed for the next position?
  • How long would I need to be in each role? (As a guide you should aim to outline 3-5 roles within the 10 year period)

If you’re unsure of what your career development might look like, don’t get disheartened. Instead, leverage your network. Solicit advice from others in your industry particularly your manager, mentors and sponsors. Their insights and experience will be invaluable in providing guidance that you can then apply to your own situation.

Take stock of where you are now

Now that you have a clear ‘next step’ in mind for your career progression, it’s invaluable that you understand your performance and abilities right now. This will allow you to create a realistic plan for your career development.

Be honest in your appraisal of your skills and knowledge and consider these prompts:

  1. How do I show up to work every day? What is my mindset and energy like?
  2. What are the areas or skills I need to develop in order to progress in my current and/or future roles?
  3. Which areas do I excel in?
  4. Am I committed to continuous improvement in my performance and for the organisation?
  5. How am I viewed within my team, by other managers/departments and more broadly in my industry?
  6. Are my ambitions clear to my manager? How could I solicit their input and support?

For a detailed guide, get your free ‘How to Get Recognised at Work’ cheat sheet. This will help you identify areas for improvement, provide you with an opportunity to share your ambitions and position yourself as a talent within your organisation and industry.

Commit to your career progression

The best advocate for your career progression should always be you. After all, no one else knows how you can progress your career in your circumstances better than you do. So commit to your own career progression by fleshing our your development plan. Create SMART goals and apply timeframes.

Be committed to stepping outside your comfort zone to pursue your goals and to consistently do the work required to take the next step. In other words, be willing to invest the time, and if necessary money to support your own goals. This might be through developing the skills, support and network you need, knowing that the investment will serve you in the longer-term.

Considerations for career progression during a pandemic

The impact of COVID-19 on businesses and economies has been unquestionable. And unfortunately, for many organisations, this has lead to few roles and more limited growth opportunities, at least in the short-term. But as you consider your own career progression during the pandemic, consider these things:

  • Understand how your industry and organisation have been impacted by the pandemic. Not all sectors have been negatively impacted. Some have more opportunities than ever. So do your research and be clear on your industry and company circumstance and identity opportunities.
  • Stop being ‘grateful to have a job’. You have been retained because your skills are needed and you are being paid because you deliver on providing that service. After all, your employment is an exchange of value with the organisation you work for.
  • Don’t keep your ambitions quiet – it will not serve you. That is not to suggest you should make unreasonable demands for promotion or opportunities. Instead, be open in desires and approach the discussion with your manager with an open mind and curiosity for their feedback and suggestions.
  • Be willing to stretch beyond your job description. Now I rarely subscribe to the advice that you should ‘act up’ without being remunerated accordingly, however, if are working in a sector that is struggling at the moment, this can present an opportunity for future progression. Just be sure to have clear parameters around the ‘stretch’ opportunities and ensure you are not taken advantage of by maintaining clear communication and expectations.

Good luck!

Are you interested in making headway in your career? It might be time to consider working with a Coach. Click here to find out more.