Have you made any career resolutions during lockdown? Perhaps you’ve decided to change jobs or change careers, or perhaps you’ve decided it is time to restart your career. Here we discuss some of the lockdown career resolutions our career coaching clients have been making, and share some tips on how to make those resolutions become reality.
I think we can all agree that the blur of recent months were far from usual with many of us needing to acquire a whole new vocabulary (Covid-19, furlough, lockdown, and social distancing) as well as a multitude of new skills – from the distance-dance around others in the supermarket and the safe handling of a face mask, to using Zoom for work meetings and the ‘joys’ of home schooling.
But it seems the past months have not dimmed our appetite for making changes. Quite the opposite in fact. Maybe it’s because people haven’t had the distraction of sociable offices or because of the challenging practicalities around working from home, or because there was more time spent working alone and hence more solo thinking time. Sometimes a series of small niggles grew into general discontent.
During lockdown, we needed to “acquire a whole new vocabulary …as well as a multitude of new skills”
Whatever the reasons, it seems that people have been making even more career resolutions during lockdown – whether those might be to ‘find a new job’ or ‘get a promotion’ or ‘change my career’ or ‘return to work after a career break’.
If you were one of those people, it’s time to take some action on your resolutions before they are left behind or forgotten as the world opens up again.
Three steps to keeping resolutions
We’ve shared these tips on how to keep your resolutions before, but it is always good to have a little reminder.
Step 1: Write it down
The first step for making any resolution become reality, whether it is for life, health or career, is to write it down. However crazy or unlikely it may seem. Just put pen to paper and write it down.
Step 2: Tell someone about your resolution
By telling just one person, the chances of this thing happening rise exponentially. So tell your best friend, share it on your family WhatsApp group or announce it on your Instagram page. Do whatever you feel comfortable with. It doesn’t matter who: just tell someone.
Step 3: Make your resolution visible
Put the piece of paper with your resolution on it somewhere that you will see it every day. Some people put it inside their wardrobe, or next to where they do their makeup. Or on the back of the front door, so they will see it everytime they leave home. As long as it is somewhere that you can’t help but see it, then that place will be ideal.
Keeping your lockdown career resolutions
Now let’s look at some of the more popular lockdown career resolutions and how you might move your resolutions forward.
It’s time to return to work
If you have voluntarily taken a career break, this might be when you planned to return to work.
In recent years, we saw lots of employers running returnship programmes, which are like paid, fixed-term, internships for career returners. Returnships provide support to help returners return to the workplace and update their skills, and the usual intent is for the employer to offer a permanent role to successful returners at the end of the fixed term returnship programme. Many of these returnships have traditionally been kicked off in September and January.
This year, however, we saw quite organisations deferring or cancelling their returnship programmes. Those employers that are offering ‘return to work’ opportunities are more often using an approach called ‘supported hiring’ in which the candidate is recruited into an actual permanent role (albeit sometimes on an initial contract basis) as opposed to securing a position on a wider returnship programme (and with the possibility of employment at the end of the programme but no specific role in mind at the beginning).
“Returnships are not the only way to return to work”
Please don’t be disheartened if you can’t see a returnship programme that might suit you. Returnships are not the only way to return to work. Statistics show that people are still best at finding jobs through their informal networks – which can mean through friends, family, past colleagues and new contacts. We regularly run career workshops on how to return to work, which explain this in more detail, but a good starting point is to let the people around you know what it is you are looking for in your next role. You never know – the friendly woman at your yoga class or the dad at the kid’s birthday party might just be the person to connect you to your next role.
I want to stop working, or I want to stop working in my current job
The lockdown period may have highlighted your desire to stop working – perhaps to spend more time with a young family, or because the juggling of a career without available childcare has proved impossible. Or it may have crystallised your desire to leave your current job/organisation for any of a number of good reasons.
Before you hand in your notice, however, it usually makes sense to stop and consider whether there is something else that can be done to make life – or your current role – better.
I help professionals at all levels and, working together, we usually begin by taking an objective view of the situation. Practical and surprisingly simple things can often be done to improve both job performance/motivation and work/life balance. We slash the ‘to do’ list, and get strategic about what to focus on.
Many of my clients end up staying, happily, in their jobs. Quite a few get offered promotions or get headhunted as people begin to notice the positive changes they make. Of course, some still decide to leave work – or to change roles – and they leave with the confidence that they have the tools they need to take with them into their new role or to use when/if they decide to return to work in the future.
So before you hand in your resignation, might it be worth a chat with an expert to see how the job itself, and how you approach it, could be flexed to suit you better?