After over a year of the pandemic, is this the right time to reset your career?

31 Mar 2021

After over a year of the pandemic, is this the right time to reset your career?

As immediate pandemic crisis gives way to long-term recovery, taking some time to think through your career and consider what the market wants can position you for success.

We’re a long way since the job market of early 2020 when COVID-19 shut down the global economy. Some careers in critical roles thrived in the early days of the crisis, but many did not. Whilst uncertainty is still very much in the air, now is a good time for a career check.

Think long-term

If ever the observation that ‘a career is a journey, not a destination’ is worth remembering, it is now.

Taking the long-term view helps you get your eyes up and above the current frenzy of changes. Lockdowns are on, then off, restrictions are tightened, then loosened, there are new timelines, all adding to the pressures and stresses that feed into our organisations and ultimately our careers and personal lives.

It’s little wonder we feel battered and confused.

But do take a deep breath and consider that many organisations are committing to restructuring, reinvigorating and reinventing themselves, and this is opening up opportunities that might have not been there two years ago.

Boards and executive teams are looking beyond critical hires like HR, supply chain, finance, and IT, and re-evaluating which roles will be most important in the near future.

As organisations re-set the purpose, structure and strategies of their businesses, it is an opportunity for you to do the same for your career.

This is your opportunity to ask some fundamental questions when considering any new position, regardless of the role:

  • Does this role make sense for my life right now? For my family? My commitments?
  • What about the future? Is there a clear idea of how the role will develop?
  • Will it provide learning opportunities and challenges?
  • Can I find job satisfaction and bring value to the organization?
  • Does this organization fit with my personal values?

For many, the crisis has offered a time for a fundamental career re-evaluation. Questions are being asked about ‘Why am I doing this? Is it what I really want? Should I change my priorities?’

What exactly is your unique value proposition?

When you have firmed up your ideas of your desired future career direction, you’ll have to face the fact that the market is tight right now. And for the best jobs, it’s always highly competitive.

As a job seeker today, your priority is always to think about your unique capabilities and figure out which experiences and skills are the most valuable for today’s climate.

Take stock of the past, where were you the most successful? Where do you add the most value to teams and organisations? Be honest with yourself, is what you delivered in the past just as relevant in today’s climate? Or do you have to have a rethink on what you offer?

Next, how you position yourself to help an organisation solve its problems is critical. So you have to be prepared to reframe your past experience to find a good fit. An executive search company can help provide an independent and objective view of that process, and an honest analysis of where suitable openings are in the market.

If you’re applying to multiple roles, one CV won’t fit all. Tailor your CV for each role and organization. Write a clear and focused cover letter and tell us why your experience is relevant for the particular role. Do make sure your online profiles support and underline your ‘product’.

Covid and its disruptions are likely to be with us for some while, so tell us how you’ve supported transformations or led through difficult times.

And as businesses seek to disrupt markets, now’s the time to tell the story of how you have been a positive disruptor, in markets, processes and organisations. What did you change, and what was the outcome?

What kind of leaders are in demand?

Turning from yourself to the market, what type of leadership is wanted right now, as the reset to a new normal begins? Our research confirms that it is your mindset more than your skillset that determines success in a world of disruption. Particularly, leaders who are more inclined to lean into change, not away from it. 

  • Proactive leaders are in demand. Many organisations want to shape, rather than defend, their position in the market. Are you able to help them to look beyond their own markets and the obvious, current trends? Can you identify opportunities to innovate by exploring ideas emerging at the convergence of markets and across value chains?
  • Humble leaders are in demand too. Leaders with the humility to accept that they don’t know everything can create a culture of innovation that includes collaboration and diversity to think through business problems.
  • Complacency is not in demand. Clinging to past achievements doesn’t mean that you have the skillset, mindset or the capabilities to help the organisation confront future change and challenges.
  • Boldness is in demand. Leadership unafraid to clear away old ways and create space for fresh thinking can be a real asset if companies are looking to genuinely reset themselves for a viable future. It takes courage and determination to start again and to take the tough decisions to drive things forward

Own your story, ups and downs

Not all careers proceed smoothly. Covid has been a major, familiar disruptor.

If you’ve had to take a less senior role during a time of crisis or for personal reasons or wanted to try something new, don’t be shy about it.

Tell your story honestly, and turn it to your advantage by revealing what the experience taught you about yourself, how you developed new skills, what you learned about a new industry and how you grew in the role. Every role brings new experience and perspective.

2020 has been a massive, shared experience, your story won’t be the only one of someone who has had to pivot, rethink and redirect their energies.

Organisations are still hiring, but if you’re a job seeker today you’ll need to stand out. Be clear about your value proposition, tailor your CV, practice your pitch, and be prepared for many rounds of video interviews.