I wanted to write a blog post about managing your career during Covid-19 because I am having similar conversations with clients and I realised I hadn’t said all of this openly.
It’s OK to have no headspace for your career right now
I feel like it’s really important to say this. As I talk to my network I am hearing reports of ‘brain fog’, of being unable to focus. People are experiencing a lack of energy, increased apathy and anxiety. People are scared. All of this is OK. These are symptoms of feeling overwhelmed, out of control and they are symptoms of change. I have talked about the grief of change before but to touch on it for a moment now – we all go through the emotions of change. First noted by Elizabeth Kübler-Ross when she was looking at grief. They include shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression (no energy) and acceptance. John Fisher expanded the research in 2012 and went into more detail noticing anxiety, happiness, fear, threat, guilt, depression, disillusionment, hostility, acceptance and moving forward.
Credit: Business Balls
Depending on where you are on this transition curve will determine how much headspace you have for anything, let alone your career choices. So if you can’t think about managing your career right now; that’s OK.
It’s OK to have a ‘bad’ day
Let me tell you that you aren’t alone in this. I have gone (and am still going through) this process as I get more information or as this virus moves towards people I know and/or care about. On my good days, I see my purpose, I know what I need to do for you, for me, for my family. I get lots done. Perhaps a blog post, a podcast. Maybe a run or a poem. I am able to clear the kitchen at the end of the day and rest.
On other days, when it doesn’t feel so good I am impatient, irritable. I feel guilty that I am unable to do more. I’m scared for my future and the future of my loved ones. I don’t have the headspace to tidy up or get any ‘jobs’ done. I’m unable to be creative.
It is on those days that feel overwhelmingly difficult that I allow and accept those feelings. I don’t try and get anything done and I don’t apologise for it. I do the minimum I need to do for myself and my family to survive. Sometimes that means sitting in front of the TV and eating toast for every meal.
When this is all over, and it will be, I think the world might look and feel a little different. It won’t go back to exactly how it was and I believe that is OK too. We have all changed in this process. Sometimes it’s going to feel like one step forwards, five steps back. That’s OK. What helps is a routine so if you can commit to doing something that feels normal for you every day then it will help you. Here are some things that I have been doing over the last few weeks that give my days structure and feel like normal to me:
- Getting my weekly blog posts written
- Exercising – running, PE with Joe in the mornings, yoga
- Meditating for 10 mins regularly (I aim for daily but given that never happened before this I just do what I can!)
- Coaching others
- Looking after our kids
I would like to expand on these if I may? Firstly, writing helps me clear my head so the blog posts are paramount for me. Exercise is my biggest self-care activity and if I can’t look after myself safely and constructively then I can’t look after anyone else. Similarly, meditation gives me calm in what feels like a very chaotic time. Finally, focusing on others helps me forget my fears and anxieties and gives me purpose.
What can you do today that feels normal for you?
What makes you feel normal (in control)? Maybe it’s drinking from your favourite cup, cooking, reading your favourite book. Whatever it is you want it to make you feel safe in that moment. Remember that you can only control your own actions. I promise that these moments will become longer and those moments in fear will become shorter. This situation will pass. You (and the rest of us) will be more resilient at the end of it. We will get through it.
Managing your career during Covid-19
You might think that thinking about your career during this time is pointless, even incongruous or unimportant. That’s OK. It is likely that managing your career will only be important to you right now if you were job searching before this happened, if you have been furloughed or made redundant during it or if you are re-evaluating your career choices. For anyone who is safe in their role then it’s probably not on your to-do list but it might be worth thinking about a career plan.
Searching for a new job
So if you feel that you have the headspace and need to move forwards professionally, here are 5 easy tips for managing your career during Covid-19 (or quite frankly in any crisis!):
- Understand your rights and get support. You can find help if you are a business and/or if you are an employee
- Update your CV making sure it’s tailored to the role and remember to shout about your achievements. (I can help with this if you need it). Include all the relevant skills and experience.
- Keep an eye on the job market. We are seeing people get jobs (even right now) so register with recruiters and use job boards like Indeed and be open to opportunities that you might otherwise not have considered including part-time/freelance options – this could be an opportunity to update any skills you need.
- Stay in touch with your tribe. From offering support to your community to letting your colleagues know you’re OK or reaching out for help it’s always a good idea to keep your tribe updated.
- Know your worth. It’s easy to give your experience and knowledge away when you’re feeling vulnerable – make sure you’re paid what you’re worth. If you want to volunteer – go for it but make sure everyone is clear on the expectations and again, use the opportunity to update your skills on your CV/LinkedIn profile or make a career change.