(4-minutes to read, lots you can do)
To discuss the future of your career, I want to tell you a bit about mine. During my working life, I’ve reinvented myself three times. Now I help others redefine their careers. What I’ve learned over two decades is that successful reinvention follows a process. This blog is about beginning that process. It’s organized around a series of questions to help you think about your career reinvention.
Uncertainty, need and opportunity are the optimal conditions for career reinvention.
Coronavirus has wreaked havoc on every aspect of our lives. Its presence hits us head-on with crucial questions, among them; Will I be working in the near future? What is my new work-life balance? Will I return to an office? Will my industry survive?
What is certain is that we will work differently. Our needs and the needs of employers will be different. Opportunity arises when we can identify those needs and connect our value with what employers want. But first, we must move past the uncertainty.
If left unchecked, the questions raised by uncertainty can loop endlessly in our minds and freeze us in place.
Accepting unknowns as facts and becoming comfortable with “I don’t know” is the first step toward quieting your mind. With a quiet mind, you can think proactively and objectively about your future. Future-focused thinking opens your mind to new ideas and encourages curiosity and optimism. An open mind is where reinvention begins.
Shifting to a future-focused mindset begins with asking “What if…” questions. It’s a great starting point for exploring new directions.
What follows are tactical steps you can take now to explore your personal “What if’s?”
What if I could do something else?
This question invites you to listen to your aspirational voice and think more expansively about your definition of work. To do this well, make asking yourself this question part of your daily routine. Put a journal next to your bed. When you first wake up, before your ‘To Do’ list takes over your brain, write down your ideas and thoughts about the work you’d like to be doing in 3 years. You may have multiple paths to explore. Multiple pathways expand your career options.
What if I created a new narrative?
With the enormous spike in unemployment, the balance has shifted from scarcity to an abundance of available talent. Backing up your aspirations with facts and experience is what will make you valuable to an employer.
Start with a skills assessment. There are many from which to choose. Gallup StrengthsFinder or the leadership, emotional and interpersonal skills assessments offered through Skills You Need and Myers-Briggs are among many options offered online.
With your skills identified, update the tools you’ll need. Recast your resume to include or highlight the skills that align with your new ideas. Always illustrate your proficiencies with examples from current and past jobs. Highlighting your expertise on a resume codifies your thinking and expands the conversations with your network and in interviews.
Dedicate 20 minutes every other day to LinkedIn.
As a business tool, it’s exceptional. Connect with people working in your area of interest. Let your voice be heard by joining affinity groups and offering your expertise and advice.
With clear career aspirations, connect with recruiters and start telling your story. Most recruiters aren’t busy right now and are willing to meet new people and listen to new stories.
What if I learned something new?
Keep the momentum going and your creative pathways open by learning something new. Online learning and certification courses that build your analytical and leadership skills prove to prospective employers that you have been actively developing your capacity while working from home.
LinkedIn Learning , Coursera and just about every University offer online learning programs. Expand your critical thinking and keep the creativity flowing with tools like MasterClass or online art classes, virtual museum visits or an online writing workshop.
Learning something new every day makes you more attractive as a candidate and flexible in your thinking. With intellectual curiosity, conversations with your network and in interviews are more productive.
What if I activated my network?
Make a list of the people in your network; you may be surprised to see how many people you know. Connect with those in your network, especially those you admire, ask for their advice and talk about your goals. These conversations help you hone your narrative and set you up well for introductions and connections.
What if I asked some friends for help?
Get out of your head. Put together a peer mentor support group so you’re not exploring this uncertain world alone. Encourage debate by asking your group to challenge your thinking and add their ideas. Discussion helps you clarify your value and goals so you’ll be ready to pounce and make a strong case when opportunities arise.
In a post COVID-19 world, we will work differently.
Use this in-between time to identify the career paths you want to explore or pursue.
With a future-focused mindset, you’ll be prepared and ready to move towards the career you want when the world finds its new normal.
Be well and stay safe
If you’re not already on the list and would like to receive my blogs directly,
Sign up here >>
My career transition and leadership blog will be delivered to your inbox the first Tuesday of every month.
Check out my column on the Forbes.com/CFO blog
I’m writing about communicating with and motivating teams.