Creating career certainty

Most of us have had our work disrupted in some way during this year. For some, it’s been a wholesale upheaval, such as a redundancy, for others the adjustments have been more subtle. Additionally, many people have used this as a time of reflection and contemplation to examine what’s really important and the part their career might play in living a life more aligned with their values.

Although we have no real way of knowing what lies ahead, the reality is that most of us still need and want to work. How can we keep ourselves moving forward during such a challenging and uncertain time?

I’ve been percolating the mass of information coming at me from a variety of quarters and have also been drawing on the resources and processes I believe are most helpful.

Pay attention to the priorities

No matter how tough things might appear to be, you’ll find it hard to galvanise yourself to action to look for work or make a career change unless you are – at least to some extent – feeling good and functioning well. Attending to your resilience and wellbeing is always a great investment of your time and is particularly important during stressful and challenging times. If this isn’t something you’ve been prioritising up until now, create a new habit of looking after yourself.

To assist with developing your overall wellbeing, the model I most commonly use and recommend takes Martin Seligman’s PERMA as its basis:

  • P Positive emotion – feelings of happiness and satisfaction, pleasure, fun

  • E Engagement - our ability to be engaged or absorbed in something, maybe even “in flow”

  • R (positive) Relationships – relationships that encourage, support and nurture us, and those in which we do the same for other people

  • M Meaning – things that are relevant and meaningful TO YOU, and that may contribute to something bigger than yourself

  • A Accomplishment – gaining a sense of satisfaction from achieving something

On top of this we can also add other evidence-based elements:

  • V Vitality – eating well, sleeping well and moving our bodies

  • S Strengths - identifying what comes naturally to you and finding outlets to use it

  • G Gratitude – being appreciative and grateful

  • M Mindfulness - being aware and present in the moment

What do you currently do that gives you these wellbeing benefits? How can you more consciously incorporate them into your life and work? You might like to focus on priorisiting one of these each week until it becomes an embedded habit.

Ride out the storm

You might believe that there’s nothing you can do right now but to wait things out, and that is certainly partly true, there’s a lot that’s not currently within our control. It can be tempting to ruminate (and maybe catastrophise) over possible scenarios, and with no clear exit point or resolution (how could there be, we’re not there yet and have no way of knowing how things will pan out) we can’t see those points through to completion. A certain amount of surrendering control could be the healthy way to go.

Can you challenge yourself to both accept the current uncertain status quo AND at the same time keep a weather eye facing towards and working to improve things for your future? Put your energy into what you can control and let the rest slide.

Assess current roles

Whilst waiting to see what happens further downstream, you can investigate and maybe move into roles that are currently available, such as those in in-demand industries. Putting food on the table and doing something useful fulfils our most pressing and practical needs and it also gives us a feeling of self-efficacy, of doing something constructive.

This might be just be a temporary measure to get you through, or who knows, it may lead to a permanent career change. I’ve had conversations with a number of clients about this in recent months. The key thing here is to be open and flexible and in some cases, you might have to swallow your pride around your past role or occupation.

Think about what capacity might be needed and who might currently be hiring. What could be future growth areas?

Build up your career assets and value

Now is the ideal time to build up your “career assets” such as your skills, your professionalism and credibility and your connections. Take stock of what you have to offer in the current world of work and also what might be useful and in-demand during our economic recovery.

Are there gaps in your skill-base that you can see potential future opportunity requiring? Can you start researching and working towards a relevant qualification? Now could be the perfect time to get started, particularly if you find yourself having more available time.

Create a cracking CV

I’ve observed that many people stay in roles that are long past their sell by date for them because of the perceived effort involved in creating an up to date CV, and going through the job search and recruitment process. Yet at the moment, many people are being forced to contemplate life beyond their current or previous role. Dust off your existing CV and invest some time (and maybe money) in bringing it up to speed and developing your interview techniques.

It may sound like I’m stating the obvious here, but if you maintain your CV’s currency you are far more likely to confidently put yourself out there for new opportunities in a timely and effective way. Spending time updating your CV will also help you to develop your confidence in your skill-base and give you the ability to articulate more clearly what you have to offer in the way of transferable skills and experience.

When I assist people with their CVs it is always so heartening to see their confidence develop as they take the time to identify what they can offer a potential employer and practice talking about it, such as in preparation for an interview.

Kirsten Nicholl, Ignite Platform Delivery Partner

Kirsten Nicholl is a Certified Master Coach with The ICG who specialisies in career design and change, strengths profiling and applied positive psychology. She is passionate about helping people develop their confidence, assertiveness, interpersonal communication skills and emotional intelligence.

If now is the time to talk about your career with an expert like Kirsten, explore Ignite's individual support subscription options or ask your employer to consider employer subscriptions for your workplace. Contact to find out more.

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