career decisions / Coronavirus

Navigating your career after the lockdown

If like me, you have a strong preference for planning ahead and controlling things, Covid 19 may feel like a real spanner in the works.  Almost overnight we went from familiarity and security to a world no one has ever seen before.  For anyone graduating this year, I imagine it feels like the rug has been pulled from under your feet.

Some of you will have job offers which will be honoured and you will be entering the world of work as everyone gets used to the new guidelines for working safely.  It’s important you check with your employer as to how they are planning your induction, and what safety measures they are putting in place for their staff.  The good news is that everyone will be adjusting to new ways of working so it’s less likely that you’ll feel like the newbie.

Fixed Mindset and Growth Mindset text on sticky notes isolated on office deskOthers will still be trying to enter the job market and may be wondering how it’s possible to do anything during a pandemic.  After all, this wasn’t in the plan was it?  With lots of media coverage about job losses it can be difficult to believe you can succeed.  A popular belief is that graduates should have a clear career plan in mind, based on their interests, skills and values, which will be linear in nature ascending through a series of promotions in the same sector.  This seems highly improbable in a fast moving world where nothing stays the same for long.  So does that mean you should just be fatalistic and see where you end up?  You could do that.  Or you could cultivate a growth mindset which allows you to reinvent yourself throughout your life, to adapt to opportunities as they arise.

Jim Bright is co-author of “ The Chaos Theory of Careers“ and says that “chance events” and “change” are inevitable, so being flexible and open minded can help you incorporate these unplanned aspects of your life into what you do next.  You can watch more about the ‘chaos theory’ of careers here.

Closeup on notebook over wood table background, focus on wooden blocks with letters making Embrace Change textIt would be easy during Covid 19 to give up and think there’s no point in looking for jobs or work experience.  Or you could pause and consider what opportunities might be emerging and what capabilities you need to nurture, to survive uncertainty and turbulence.

Here are some suggestions to help you navigate the choppy waters we’re facing:

  • Avoid rigid long term planning – instead opt for short and medium term plans as you weather the storm. Be curious and open minded about what’s actually happening in the job market at the moment, and what might work for you.
  • Moving forwards might feel overwhelming, so break it down into small manageable chunks. Baby steps, as I’ve said in previous posts, can help you create a framework.
  • Spend some time identifying your strengths and transferable skills, so you’re ready when opportunities come up and feeling confident about what you have to offer.
  • Focus your attention on what you can control rather than what you can’t.
  • Connect with others to find out more about roles, and to make sure people know about you. You never know where it might lead.
  • Be patient with yourself and the pandemic, and invest in your own self- care in these stressful times. It’s not easy to think clearly about your future if your mind is racing or frozen.  Try to calm your mind through deep breathing, exercise or listening to your favourite music for example before you turn your attention to your next steps.
  • You might find it helpful to normalise your feelings at this complex time. The  Kubler Ross ‘change curve theory’  demonstrates how people can react to difficult situations and ultimately move forwards:

Irregular paving stone texture background.Your future may end up looking more like crazy paving than a linear path, but the agility to adapt is what helps people thrive.  Did you know for example that Harrison Ford was working as a carpenter when he got the role of Han Solo in Star Wars?  You never know what’s around the corner and that’s ok.

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” (Seneca, Roman Philosopher born 4 BC)


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