Global Entrepreneurship Week is upon us, giving us a much-needed chance to sit back and take stock of the impact that entrepreneurs have around us in day to day life.
In the economy, socially, and in our hopes for the future, much is relied upon by our communities for entrepreneurs to take action and create change.
This is also a chance for us to take stock of our own careers, particularly with consideration for the past year of lockdown, furlough, uneven economic change, and of course the realisation of the value of autonomy.
The global pandemic has profoundly changed the nature of work for many people across the world. Career trajectories that previously felt secure now feel uncertain as many jobs are lost across varying sectors, and many organisations struggle to survive. Even for employees who have remained in the same job, it is highly likely with the move to working from home that there has been significant change to their working day.
Against this backdrop of change and uncertainty, it is important to know that there are practical ways to help you to regain control of your career identity and direction.
Realise your responsibility
Firstly, it’s vital to realise that your professional and career identity is bigger than the organisation by which you are currently employed. It’s important to take some time to look up from your immediate activities to explore your professional identity and employability as separate from the organisation and your role within it. In uncertain times such as these, it becomes necessary to take responsibility for your own professional development and trajectory.
Check your options
Whilst it can seem a big decision to invest in personal development, such as a undertaking a Post-Graduate course, hiring a career coach and attending career-events, these can also bring a new sense of confidence and provide insights into your next steps. Not only this, but their networking opportunities, both in person and online, are exceptionally strong and will help you to identify your options and choose which routes to follow.
The skills and knowledge inferred from such routes can also be of fundamental influence on your direction and in your ability to maintain whilst on route to your chosen destination. Often times, such as when studying an MBA, you’re learning from those who have been there and done that, so listen and learn.
Be flexible and open
During times of uncertainty it’s important to avoid having a fixed and rigid career goal where career progression is viewed solely in linear terms. It may be that whilst the structure and opportunites in your current organisation change, this also brings the possibility to shape and mould your current role, or to diversify and to try out new activities within the organisation. It’s important to be open-minded to new and multiple career possibilities. Especially if you have been in the same role for a while it can be difficult to appreciate how transferrable your skills are.
In addition, the opportunities outside of your organisation are also present, though must be discovered. These will be become increasingly apparent as you initiate greater networking, but remaining open to ideas throughout is a constant in any route to security and success.
You will need to contribute to and nurture the networks you are already involved with, but you must also seek out and build new networks and contacts. This needs to be a more purposeful act when working from home as opportunties to come into contact with people are lessened without our natural networking occasions, such as in an office or simply in passing with friends and associates. However through tools such as LinkedIn, attending virtual conferences and seeking out new contacts, networks can be expanded and diversified and, most crucially, utilised.
Whilst the circumstances of lockdown have us reliant on exploring virtually, you will discover that the virtual world is now the host of opportunity for learning and networking and is a gateway for the exploration you will need to conduct. One key tip is; ‘sign-up, tune-in, take control’.
Whilst career uncertainty can be challenging, there are ways to gain more control over career identity and direction. Through actively bringing agency to our careers and seeing them as something we can actively shape, there is more opportunity to find and create work that brings us purpose and the ability to make a difference in your life and the lives of others.
The coming months and years will require the creative bravery often found in entrepreneurs and those that are keen to seek opportunity and possibilities. As you take your first steps in this direction, remember that taking ownership of your career is also a means of taking control of your life and you are worth the effort and the rewards this control will bring.
About the author
Nicola Urquhart is a Lecturer in Careers and Employability at Kent Business School. As a qualified Careers Adviser and Coach she is experienced at supporting students to be successful in the highly competitive graduate labour market, and to develop the necessary skills to effectively manage their careers.
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.