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5 Ways to Positively Disrupt Your Career During the COVID-19 Pandemic

By: Katie O’Malley, M.Ed., BCC and Founder/Executive Coach of (en)Courage Coaching Economists and entrepreneurs often tout economic recessions as an optimal time to launch a new business. When markets are down, they become ripe for disruption and roll out the red carpet for innovative services, solutions, and produts. Which makes me wonder, do these same […]

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Katie O'Malley
Katie O'Malley

By: Katie O’Malley, M.Ed., BCC and Founder/Executive Coach of (en)Courage Coaching

Economists and entrepreneurs often tout economic recessions as an optimal time to launch a new business. When markets are down, they become ripe for disruption and roll out the red carpet for innovative services, solutions, and produts. Which makes me wonder, do these same truths hold true for individuals (and their careers!) during an economic downturn? My answer is an unequivocal yes! The recipe is simple: a little reflection and a dash of connection, sprinkled with objective, expert guidance will allow you to positively disrupt your career trajectory before the market, or burnout, disrupts you. Take a peek below for some foundational strategies to launch your new career path:

  1. Reflect on Your Strengths, Values, and Interests

I can feel the collective eye roll of folks reading this article as they say, “Reflection, really?” Yes. Reflection. Really. I encourage you to carve out five minutes everyday to reflect on your values, interests, and strengths. At the intersection of these identity components and what the world needs, is the career path you are meant to start walking. Unsure when and where to start? You are not alone. The next time you find yourself mindlessly scrolling on your phone, set a timer for five minutes and pick a prompt below to get curious about: 

  1. When I am experiencing joy, what am doing? Who am I alongside? Where am I?
  2. Consider your most successful moment(s). How did you get there? What skills did you leverage? Who lifted you up?
  3. What gives you energy throughout the day? How do you positively utilize that energy when your tank is overflowing?
  • Get Acquainted with the Informational Interview

After a few days of reflection, begin looking for emerging themes. Does your joy seem to stem from a particular set of activities? Do the folks that lift you up embrace similar values or work in a particular industry? Have you rediscovered new interests, but are unsure where to start? This is your chance to acquaint yourself with the informational interview. Start by identifying folks that work in a field that piques your interest or hold positions at places where you’ve considered submitting a resume—then reach out and ask to buy them a virtual cup of coffee. Nervous to make that connection? Here’s a little secret: people love talking about themselves and feeling like their helping someone along. Just be sure to prepare a solid set of questions to ask and be ready to answer some questions about yourself too. Remember, be both interested and interesting! These folks may have an opportunity available for you one day—wouldn’t it be great to be on top of their mind?

  • Cultivate Your Dormant Network

Remember your high school and college friends? The former colleagues at former jobs you commiserated alongside? The super cool professors, bosses, and acquaintances you always wanted to get to know better? Now is the time to reconnect. Our dormant network, comprised of folks we knew in another season of life, is one of the best places to begin expanding and building the community that will support your next career step. Not convinced? Take a peek at this article by Adam Grant, Wharton Faculty and world- renowned organizational psychologist.

  • Revamp Your Resume (and Create a Functional Resume)

When was the last time you updated your resume? As a Board Certified Career Coach, I encourage my clients to update their resumes constantly. Learned a new skill? Add it to the resume. Met a workplace benchmark? Add it to the resume. Began supervising employees? I think you get the picture. When we wait to polish our resumes until we choose (or are forced) to leave our current role, so many of our accomplishments get missed, forgotten, and ultimately left of the resume. Start this process today so when the time comes for you to disrupt your career, you’ve already captured the very best of you! Additionally, if your reflection, informational interviews, and network cultivation have you ready to make a 180-degree career pivot, consider building a functional resume that showcases the transferability of your skills. Take a peek here to learn more about the functional resume.

  • Engage with a Career Coach

Feeling overwhelmed by the previous suggestions? You are most certainly not alone. Exploring our strengths, identifying our values, and creating a new professional path is work that often requires support. Engaging with a Career Coach not only provides an objective lens to see your career in a new way, but ensures that you will have champion and thought partner in your corner throughout the job search process. Updating your collateral materials (resume, cover letter, LinkedIn, etc), searching job boards, and preparing for interviews becomes much more tolerable when you have someone holding you accountable and cheering you along! Want to get started? (en)Courage Coaching would love to meet you! Learn more about us here and connect today!

About the Author

Katie O’Malley, M.Ed., BCC, is Leadership Coach and Educator with fifteen years of professional experience serving the nonprofit, corporate and higher education sectors. Across these workplaces, Katie noticed her strengths and values consistently steered her toward the support and development of others. In 2013, Katie translated this observation into action and pursued a Master’s Degree in Counseling and Board Certification in Executive and Career Coaching.

Currently, Katie works full time as the Senior Associate Director of Leadership Development at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business. In this role, Katie designs developmental workshops, provides team and leadership coaching, and contributes to the creation and delivery of leadership education curriculum for students in the Full-Time MBA Program. In her spare time, Katie serves as a Coach and Mentor for start-up businesses through the Polsky Center for Entreprenuership and founded (en)Courage Coaching Chicago, a private coaching practice specializing in career and leadership development for underrepresented populations in the C-Suite.  Prior to these roles, Katie served as a coach in leadership development offices at The University of Texas at Austin and DePaul University.

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