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Coronavirus Preparedness At Lighthouse

Five Tips for Continuing to Gain Career Momentum During Quarantine

By Nikki MacCallum

The 2020 COVID-19 shut down of all non-essential businesses is affecting everyone differently. Although official current figures haven’t been published, estimates place the current national unemployment rate at around ten to thirteen percent. For obvious reasons, this number is anticipated to increase before we’re through the pandemic.

Everyone is in a different boat right now depending on the industry they are in. Across all businesses, individuals have been laid off, some have been furloughed, and others are still gainfully employed, doing everything they can to become invaluable resources for their companies. The bottom line is, the current state of the world is a terrifying climate to be job hunting in. It can be frightening, depending on the state of your current company, if the work is drying up and everyone is gunning for the same assignments. If you’re one of the lucky ones and things are still going well for you, everything is just on hold so that forward momentum has slowed. The last scenario begs other questions like, “will that big project I just did matter in six months?” or “Will my good work be forgotten?”

This blog will arm you with five tips for continuing to gain or at least maintain forward movement in your career as we navigate the fallout of COVID-19.

  1. Reach out to decision makers, important business contacts, executives, etc. and simply ask, “How are you doing?” The thing that has struck me the most about COVID-19 is how much everyone has been exposed for being human. I’ve taken video calls with executives in backwards hats, pajamas, and with their kids running around in the background of the frame. We are all in the same boat, and just as you might be fearing your own job security or revenue stream, it’s important to remember that your clients and higher-ups are in that very same boat. Instead of asking for business or asking for something work-related, simply ask, “How are you doing?” It’s a great way to stay on people’s radars and once this is over it won’t be forgotten. Who are you most likely to remember? The person who reached out asking you for an interview or business during this time, or the person who just asked you how you’re doing?
  • Help someone else. It is so easy to get caught up in our own stressors, but being of value to another individual, who is equally as stressed during this time, can go a long way. Last week, I heard a story of a woman who’d lost most of her business due to COVID-19. She was a seasoned entrepreneur who ran a coaching business, most of which didn’t translate to the virtual world. Instead of panicking and trying to drum up more business for herself, she’s helping a long-time mentee build their business instead. As a byproduct of this, she’s been able to generate revenue for herself through this new venture and has also inadvertently had a few hits on her own business. Helping this other person has helped her to stay motivated and engaged. This is obviously an extreme example, but whether you’re employed or not, offer your services to someone in need. Helping others will naturally help you feel engaged and sometimes it’s easier to motivate others than it is to motivate ourselves.
  • Have a presence on social media. A lot of people have an aversion toward social media, but it is now more important than ever. During this period of time when we’re not speaking at conferences or having in-person client visits where we get to shine, if you aren’t visible you run the risk of being forgotten. There is no right, wrong, good, or bad approach, but if people don’t know what you’re doing you run the risk of becoming irrelevant. While social media intimidates a lot of people, it doesn’t have to be hard. Staying visible can be accomplished by reposting or re-sharing an interesting article you read on LinkedIn. In fact, there’s an individual I’ve recently come into contact with who doesn’t have any original social media content of his own, but has built his entire brand around sharing other people’s posts. First of all, it’s a cool thing to do to be of service to others, but second, he is doing an amazing job staying visible without putting out any of his own original content.
  • Implement some sort of structure around your day. Whether you’re working from home, or new to unemployment, creating some sort of structure can work miracles in terms of your productivity and/or level of engagement. That structure can range from taking an online workout class every morning at 7 AM to reaching out to contacts to check in on how they’re doing from 2 – 3 PM every day. It can even be as simple as, every day from 12 – 1 PM, unplugging and taking an actual lunch break. Our minds and bodies are naturally more engaged when we have some sort of structure, no matter how small, and aren’t left to our own devices.
  • Think outside of the box and find ways to add value. It’s important to remember that there are many ways to add value to an organization that might be outside the parameters of your current role. One mindset shift that can be helpful is, instead of thinking “what can I do to add value,” thinking in terms of “who can I help” to add value. Is there something you can take off your manager’s plate? Is there a colleague of yours who you know has a busy workload and you could increase your team’s productivity by offering to help, even if it’s outside the realm of your normal job description? If you’re unemployed or job hunting, you may need to think even further outside that box. Is there a connection you can make with someone who might be able to help you down the road? Is there an article you think a decision maker might find interesting? Check your ego at the door and find ways to create value.

We’re all in this together and we will all come out of this together. While being isolated can make you feel hopeless or like your career is on pause, especially if you’re an active job seeker, hopefully, you can apply these five tips and continue on that forward path, even if the train is moving slower. Ask people how they’re doing, help someone else, have a presence on social media, implement some sort of structure around your day, and think outside the box to create value. You’ll be a step ahead once businesses start to resume.

If you have questions about this blog article or want to chat about the concept further, please feel free to reach out to me at NMacCallum@lighthouseglobal.com.

Nikki MacCallum

Nikki MacCallum brings over thirteen years of experience in the executive search space with a focus on litigation technology and eDiscovery. She’s spoken on panels and at conferences nation-wide (ABC News, Women in eDiscovery, LegalTech, CALSM, ARIAS) and was recently the key note speaker for a global Career Panel Workshop at American Express. Nikki is also a resident speaker at New York City’s Coalition for the Homeless where she privately mentors underprivileged women looking to re-enter the workforce.

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