“I don’t want the ‘old normal’”
“I’m dreading a return to commuting and long days”
“I enjoy working remotely and have proved it can work”
“I’ll miss spending time with my family”
“I’ve realised that my 20-year corporate career no longer lights my fire”
“I don’t need a six-figure salary to be happy”
“I don’t want to ‘live to work’ but I want to find a job that I enjoy and which plays to my strengths”
Do any of these sound familiar? As a result of the transformative changes to our work, lifestyle and finances during Covid-19, are you reflecting on your work and re-evaluating what it really means to you? I’ve certainly been hearing some of the above in my recent coaching conversations, particularly from Gen-X clients who feel they have spent too long in a career which has always looked ‘successful’ but deep-down isn’t how they define ‘success’ themselves. They want something different once we get through this: a four-day week or more flexible hours; freelance work; helping others or work that feels more ‘human’; or finding a role which they can look back on and say was ‘valued’ (like our key workers). For some, this might be about ‘following the dream’.
Of course, we need to be realistic. The job market is pretty stagnant and who knows how long it will remain so. But even in ‘normal’ times it can take months to change jobs so why not use this time to really consider your long-term career goal and what steps you need to take to get there?
You’re unlikely to be short of skills or experience but do your skills really play to your strengths (when you are at your best) and values (when you do what you care about)? The more the three are aligned, the better, so start by listing your ‘top 5’ of each and rate how both your current and ‘ideal’ roles stack up. You may actually be surprised that you are in your ‘dream job’ or vocation after all and have perhaps just been unsettled by current events.
If not, you need to go further and list the possible jobs that fit with your skills, strengths and values. Use this time to talk to others who’ve made similar changes or to contacts in your desired role or sector. Find a mentor or engage a career coach. If you need to re-skill, take advantage of the many free online courses which are available or read around your subject. It might involve embarking on a more formal qualification. Speak to recruiters and, if you’ve been out of the interview loop for a while, up-skill on your interview technique. Update and refine your CV and LinkedIn profile. But again, be realistic: given the current climate, you might need to consider a broader range of options than plot a single course. You really can be creative!
Clearly, many people will be forced to consider a career change as a result of redundancies or restructurings. If so, the above strategies will still be helpful in moving you towards your next role. If you’re fortunate to be making a more active choice, then spend your time wisely and create an action plan for how to achieve your ideal next step. Use this time to create your own vision of the future of work. Who knows where you might be when you feel energised, motivated and happy with your work?