As one of the most pervasive health crises of the 21st century, the Covid-19 pandemic has drastically created uncertainty and changed how we live and work. However, it provides an opportunity to take a break from our habit-based life and routines to do some self-examination and also take the time to set new professional and career development goals—essentially, looking deep within, reevaluating our strengths and weaknesses, and determining what skills we need to build upon.
Covid-19 raises a number of interesting lessons for career development. We can draw some parallels between its rapid spread and the changing world of work we are increasingly experiencing. Let’s dive into five important career development building blocks to cultivate to be more efficient and effective in your career development in the “new normal.”
Build on Adaptability
The world is changing fast. Your career path will likely change multiple times. The opportunities are vast and fleeting. Whatever you have done up until now may not be sufficient for the future. Tomorrow’s opportunities will require new skills, knowledge and abilities.
In order to stay competitive in the future, one must be able to adapt. Evaluate your career path needs and make changes as needed – in skill sets and attitude. Professionals who are able to do this will be better positioned for success.
Adaptability is not just a good idea – it’s best practice for today’s global marketplace. There is no one-size-fits-all approach that works in every situation, so it’s essential to be adaptable – quickly evaluating and implementing new approaches that meet the unique needs and wants of your career path – now.
Build on Soft Skills
When faced with situations that require us to adapt quickly and be resilient, we have to have skills that will allow us to be effective. It’s not enough to have great technical skills – you also need soft skills that allow you to communicate well, remain calm, show empathy, and think critically under pressure, to name a few things, to get along with those around you.
Start by assessing where you stand right now in your own set of soft skills. Based on that assessment, choose the area of growth and development. Then look at how you can acquire these skills – what resources do you need? A coach? A mentor? Listen to a podcast? Read a book? Personally – get a coach!
Build on Networking
The ability to predict future trends and to connect people who could benefit from each other’s knowledge and skills will help you stand out. Building relationships is important; however, in a post-pandemic world where friends and colleagues are spread out across the country and across the globe, networking is even more important.
Connecting with people allows for career growth. Opportunities for a new job or promotion can occur quicker when you have someone advocating for you as discussed in this article written by me and my peers. And if you need help with a major project, chances are someone in your network can lend a hand as well.
Networks are more important now than ever before. They help people make new contacts, get the latest information in their field and support each other when times become tough. In other words, networking can be your net-worth during difficult times like a pandemic and beyond.
Build on Potential
A key element of this is having a clear understanding of where your strengths lie and then aligning yourself with opportunities that will give you the chance to make use of those strengths.
Employers are looking for people who can do the job. If you have potential, you need to demonstrate it by producing results, not just talking about it. What have you done that demonstrates that potential? What work have you done that shows your ability to follow through on commitments? How will future employers know how good of an employee or team member you will be without seeing what you’ve already done? Potential only counts when it’s demonstrated; otherwise it’s just talk!
Build on the Global Environment
Covid-19 provides a useful illustration of how complex and interconnected today’s world has become. Smart career decision-making involves a holistic approach where you try to understand all the variables that may impact your potential for career growth. This understanding will help you make better decisions in all aspects of your life- not just in the workplace but also in areas such as education and personal development.
The global environment is made up of many interlocking variables that can impact your career. Covid-19 is an extreme example of how a variable in this global environment can dramatically change your career situation without you even being aware of it.
All the variables in the global environment impact your career in some way, and affect its growth. Learning how they interact can help you be more aware of them and make better decisions about how to manage them in relation to your professional and career development.
In the end, the last two years have put us in a situation of uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity that requires a willingness to improvise and modify as needed. A lot of the insights that can be drawn from the pandemic are important for professional and career development, regardless of where you are in your career.
With the future increasingly shaped by change and uncertainty, it’s critical to keep in mind that career success often hinges on the ability to work well with others and being adaptable in the “New Normal.”