The Covid-19 pandemic has affected every role in the country. For the office-based, their roles became a juggle with childcare or managing feelings of isolation. For key workers, they put their health at risk every time they went to work. And then there are those that were furloughed or made redundant.
Disruptions to the career landscape are never easy. But for those who have lived through a pandemic, it’s especially challenging to move on from what was once a very certain career path with clear-cut goals to something that will remain uncertain for some time.
So how do you rebuild after this change? We’re strong believers in the power of a support network and feel it’s time for everyone to look at who has their back and see if they need to bolster, regrow or revise that group for a stronger future.
What is a support network?
When it comes to career support, your network can include your loved ones, employers, former and current colleagues, industry peers and industry bodies and groups. Each can provide valuable support to you when you need it and we’ll look at each one to determine whether you need to invest some extra time in them.
Support network 1: Your loved ones
Partners, parents, friends and children can give you a special kind of support that your employer can’t. They can give you physical and emotional assistance after a tough day in the form of a hug or your favourite meal for dinner, unrelenting encouragement and praise, and even understanding when you have to work longer hours, attend an early morning meeting or put in some hours over the weekend.
But, have you exploited this support over the last few months? Have you given them your support in return?
As the world of work stabilises, you could need this group more than ever, so make sure you are taking the time now to check in, show your gratitude and give them care and attention in return.
Support network 2: Your employer and colleagues
Employee mental health and wellbeing has been a key issue for employers, long before covid-19 came along, and it’s likely that many companies will have increased their efforts in recent months. Many companies have introduced flexible work hours, they run programmes that keep staff healthy and they even provide counseling services for employees going through tough times.
However, many of the programmes will rely on the employee speaking up or opting in to the support. Make sure you do.
With regards to colleagues, it is always good to have friends at work especially when you are feeling low. If that friendship group is no longer available, find out if there is a buddy system that you can use or set up if none exists.
Support network 3: Former colleagues and peers
This group can be valuable if you’re looking to change roles, take on new challenges or increase your skills. However, during the pandemic, networks – however strong they were – couldn’t be adapted as quickly to meet new needs as the job market was changing so rapidly.
That’s why it’s important that you stay on top of your network and who is in it. When you find someone that could be a great contact for you, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. That way, when life changes again, so does your network, and you’re never left behind.
LinkedIn continues to be a powerful tool for making connections and keeping in touch but many of your contacts may have either moved on to new roles, been laid off, or taken on a new challenge. Reconnect with people to offer your support but also to identify who can help you get where you want to be. Reach out to alumni at your school or university, use LinkedIn’s “People You May Know” feature or join or create a group on the site for your profession/industry.
If you are struggling, log on and read the posts of others that have been through what you are going through then reach out to them. You never know how your words may help someone get through another day.
Support network 4: Industry bodies and groups
LinkedIn has a number of groups you can join for further networking, support or training, classified by industry, profession, gender, interests and more. Do your research to identify which will have most value to you as some may be focussed too heavily on audiences in other countries and some will be used purely as a way of sharing self-congratulatory news or sales messages. Get the group right and you could identify potential new career paths, mentors, life long friends and, if nothing else, some helpful advice to develop your skills and resilience.
Take some time to research what options there are available to you, and how they might be suitable for your skills, experience and interests.
Beyond LinkedIn, there are numerous industry bodies and groups created specifically to offer those in work more support. The key to finding which are best for you is to open yourself up to new opportunities.
It might be that your current role is no longer right for you or you’re interested in acquiring new skills. Now is the opportunity to put your best foot forward and experiment with different models of working.
You might also find that there are great roles out there you didn’t know existed, such as work-from-home opportunities, freelancing and digital nomadism. And it’s never been easier to get these jobs now that the tools to enable remote working are so readily available.
Rebuild your support network now. Today could be all about getting back into the swing of office working again, but later, when life shifts again and it becomes time for a career change…you’ll already be prepared.