How to bounce back if COVID killed your career

The world is coming to terms with new ways of living and working since the pandemic. If your career has been unalterably changed, how do you decide what to do next? Grab a pen and paper, there are some steps you can take:

  1. Grieve your old job

For many people, work is part of identity, so the loss of a job reaches deeper than how we pay bills. It’s ok to have feelings about that. In fact, it will set a better foundation to take your next steps if you do. Be specific about why – this will give you tips for later work. Remember: you are not your job. You can, in fact, still be you with a new role. Let it out, write it down, and clear your head.

  1. Reassess before you rebuild

It’s tempting to jump into problem-solver mode and look at options straight away, but just like any project, you’ll benefit from mapping out an overview first. You need to be clear on who you are and what works for you. Thinking about your values, skills, experience, attributes, and interests, both professional and personal, is important so that your next steps move you towards a role that works for you. It’s helpful to look at previous jobs and write down their pros and cons too. Be honest! This is a chance for a full reset of your working life, so make the most of it.

  1. Brainstorm new paths forward 

Now that you’ve taken stock, where can that lead you? Write down your ideas, no matter how frivolous, to get you thinking outside the normal constraints – it’s not a commitment, so don’t hold back. Think of all the plans and ideas you’ve shelved along the path to where you find yourself now, or new careers that build on your skills, or that let you do something meaningful to you. Try mind mapping job tasks and skills to help you branch out your ideas, and don’t forget to identify your favourites.  

  1. Take action

You’ve got some ideas together – it’s time to follow up. Make enquiries, read reliable employment data, and dig deep into your networks. If you can, volunteer. There are so many benefits you can gain, not least of which is doing something meaningful for your community. Write a list of actions you can take, add some dates, and tell a trusted friend. There’s nothing like a pep talk and some accountability to keep you on track.

There are no easy answers, but taking these simple steps will yield good information to make decisions and find new opportunities, as well as providing some sense of control of your future.

Originally published in BDmag, July 2021.

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