Growing your career in the confines of a pandemic

make your mark careerThe coronavirus pandemic has put a lot of things, personal and professional, on hold over the past year and this can frequently be due to increasing financial pressures.

For example, many employers have had to postpone promotions and bonuses for staff until such a time where businesses, and the economy, are on steadier grounds.

Nevertheless, this hasn’t stopped employees taking it upon themselves to upskill and broaden their horizons, with many taking the initiative to continue learning and developing. According to research, a quarter of the UK’s workforce have begun learning new skills over the course of the past year. This substantial proportion of employees report that their desire to continue learning is not only to build their skill base and aid their career progression post-pandemic but is also a way of guarding themselves from the current uncertainty around job security.

If you’re looking to continue expanding your horizons, here are four areas to explore.

Online courses

Online learning has boomed over the past year. Overall, the younger generation (16 – 24) were much more likely to engage with online course material such a print outs and books, while those aged 35 – 44 were more likely to engage with online courses. Enrolment on one widely used online learning platform, Coursera, saw a huge increase of 640 per cent from mid-March to mid-April 2020 alone!

The biggest benefit of online training is that it doesn’t have to be costly. Many companies and organisations, such as the UK Government, Exeter Works and Google Cloud, have provided large numbers of free resources and opened hundreds of free spaces on courses designed to help adults upskill and gain further qualifications. The range of courses on offer is vast, from Coding to Life Skills, Accountancy to Management.

If there’s a certain area of your sector that you’re not fully comfortable with or a skill that will help you secure that promotion when it’s possible – now is a good time to take the leap and develop yourself.


Networking virtually is just as beneficial to your progression as it would be in person. It is a terrific way to meet others within your field and share contact details. You never know who might be holding the key to the next stepping stone in your career.

If you’re struggling to know where to start, explore your sector’s governing body such as the CIPP or ICAEW for accountancy and finance, or UKLSA for legal professionals. Their websites will offer some fantastic resources, learning opportunities and events for you to attend.

Ask for stretch tasks

If you simply can’t find time to do extracurricular work outside of the usual 9 – 5, there’s no harm in turning to your employer for advice. They may be able to offer you guidance as to how you can improve and develop your career.

This could include being given tasks outside of your usual remit that will stretch you and open you up to new opportunities. For example, your company may be looking to upskill and develop junior members of the team, a perfect opportunity to build upon your management skills.

Progress can only happen if you choose to move forward, so don’t be afraid to raise your hand and try something completely new in order to grow personally and professionally.

Look after your wellbeing

The current lockdown restrictions and the threats of the pandemic can become overwhelming, so it can be difficult to maintain motivation to achieve long-term goals.

It’s important to remind yourself that you’re only human and you are doing the best you can at this moment in time. To make your goals more manageable, break them down into bitesize chunks and focus on a little bit every day. Taking just 10 minutes to read a resource material or 15 minutes to sign up for a future event will all count and will go some way to help you get that little bit closer to your desired step up.

Jo CaineAbout the author

Jo joined Exeter-based Cathedral Appointments in 1998 to cover a maternity leave and never left. She now owns the recruitment agency and loves her job. She has a great team of recruitment consultants who work with her in ensuring that Cathedral Appointments provide an excellent service to candidates and clients alike.

As a specialist recruiter, Jo has gained an excellent knowledge of the employment market and has long established relationships with many leading employers in the Exeter area. Jo sources candidates for a number of commercial organisations as well as the public and not for profit sectors and has a strong network of HR and Executive contacts.

If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTheCity has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here

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