5 Steps to Career Growth in Challenging Times

What if you really want to grow in your career, despite the pandemic?

Career growth may not be top of mind for you right now due to the upheaval from the current global pandemic. But what if you really want to grow in your career? You are just bursting for a new challenge. Should you just stay where you are, even though you’re feeling stuck and unfulfilled?

Maybe you were looking for a new opportunity before the lockdown, but you put your search on hold. You just want to stay put, grateful for to have some level of financial security, hunkering down and waiting for the economy to improve.

Or maybe you’re are among those who have been laid off or furloughed. Perhaps you anticipate your company may be restructuring in the near future. As the economy re-opens to varying degrees and you turn your attention to searching for work, should you look for career growth or just apply for any position that seems to match your skills?

The fact is people do find new jobs – and opportunities for career growth –  even during a recession. So if you want to advance in your career here are 5 steps to take.

1. Prioritize

Consider your interests, your skills and talents, your values. Also consider your needs – including salary, benefits, your preference for remote work or working from home, vs a commute. Think of your long-term career plan and the importance you place on future opportunities for advancement. 

Prioritize what’s important to you in terms of your lifestyle. Would you benefit from alternatives to the traditional 9-5 career path? Consider that your future career may include positions that are part-time, temporary, freelance, or contract-based. What would be the ideal blend for you? 

The benefit of taking the time to evaluate your priorities means that you won’t waste your valuable time and effort on chasing after positions that would not be a good fit for you. 

2. Assess

If you’re not really clear on your priorities or on the full range of value that you bring to the table, it’s time to assess. There are many online assessments available to help you gain clarity and direction. You can take assessments on your own that are free or low-cost, however the best ones have been properly field tested and validated, and usually cost a bit more. 

When you work with a professional career growth coach like me, you’ll have access to a range of assessments. I’m there as a trusted guide, to help you select the assessments that will bring you the greatest value and also to help you fully absorb and apply what you learn from the results. 

3. Research

What are the growth industries, and where are the good jobs to be found?  Even in a recession there are industries that are doing well and skills that are in demand. And some industries that laid off employees during the height of the lockdown will be re-hiring in the coming months.

Stay current with what’s going on in your local economy through news reports, and the newsletters or websites of your Chamber of Commerce, Board of Trade and industry associations.

Remembering that the demands of the labour market are constantly changing and even pre-Covid there was much discussion on the future of the workplace, here are a couple of recdntly-updated resources, that provide insights into the future of work:

Future of Work: Ways of working in uncertain times – Deloitte

The future of work is here: 5 ways to reset labour markets after coronavirus recovery – World Economic Forum

4. Network

Your network is always important for your career success. But never more so than when you are looking for new opportunities.

Be strategic about using your network. Here are some pointers.

List the people who already know you and who have some insight into your career or the career you aspire to. Ask them for 20 minutes of their time – virtual coffee meetings are a popular option in today’s world where many are cautious about face to face meetings.

Be respectful of their time, and be prepared by knowing what outcome you’d like to achieve in the meeting. Do you want to solicit advice about your career direction? gather information about an industry, a company or specific role that interests you? gain introductions to other people who may be able to help you find opportunities?

And, even though you don’t necessarily go into a networking meeting to ask specifically about job openings, remember that your network is often the top way of finding out about new positions – even before they are publicly posted.

5. Complete your Career Growth Checklist

I’ve created a Career Growth Checklist to help you explore where you want to go and how you will get there – this helps you with the decision-making and evaluation of career growth possibilities. It’s available free here.