In recent years, the influence of technology has helped to level the career playing field in many areas. Capable computers and mobile devices are more affordable; this places the information-delivering power of the internet in everyone’s hands.
Most jobs are just a quick search away. And if you don’t meet the prerequisites, you have the tools to figure out what it takes and address the gap. But this accessibility of information also makes the job scene more competitive. Throw in the effects of the pandemic, and as employers are grappling with uncertainty, it’s getting harder than ever to advance your career.
Amid this climate, how can you build and sustain momentum in your career? Here are some tactics you can explore.
Keep on learning
Drawing up and refining your resume, it can be easy to perceive your career as a linear progression. One job leads to the next; within a company, you gain experience, take on new roles, and possibly get promoted.
However, your development and advancement will always take place within a context. It’s like churning a tank full of viscous oil; you need to keep things in motion and maintain the flow with a submersible drum heater. Because even as you fight to make your way forward, the environment is also changing. New skills will be required for the jobs of tomorrow. At the same time, current skills can become obsolete.
Of course, it’s great to take advantage of opportunities as they come. But if you want to set yourself apart, you have to do more. Especially in a downturn or gap year created by the pandemic, you must start to take charge of your learning. Leverage your spare time wisely; use the internet to take online courses, and participate in communities to facilitate new skill acquisition.
Fortify your mindset
Among the many effects of the pandemic on our lives, social isolation and loneliness can be the most pervasive. In normal circumstances, people who experience difficulty and stress in one area of their lives can offset it with leisure activities and social interactions. Now, many of our options in those areas have been taken away.
Strengthening your mindset to deal with anxiety and unpredictable events in life is always a good thing, and particularly during these times of upheaval and disruption. But it can also lead to a career advantage in unexpected ways.
Businesses are now looking to retool and overhaul their structure. They are becoming more agile to respond better to sudden change. And in an agile organization, roles and boundaries are blurred.
It’s like working at a startup; people are empowered and expected to chip in, rather than operating within a clearly defined and restricted role. Change your mindset accordingly; embrace change, and you’ll be an attractive asset to the employers of the future.
Momentum is a concept borrowed from the science of physics. It’s the mass of an object multiplied by its velocity. And velocity isn’t just speed; it must have a specific direction relative to the point of reference.
If you don’t work in STEM-related fields, it’s easy to forget this detail. Momentum has to be headed somewhere. And that’s also true when you carry that concept over to your career. Even as you prepare for your next job, how often do you consider where you’re headed in the long run?
Find purpose in your career, and align every move with that direction. It will make all the small stuff worthwhile because you feel fulfilled knowing its impact in the big picture. This keeps you focused and energized. It makes you the sort of colleague that people want to work with. It’s an intangible quality that guides your momentum towards steady overall progress.
Build a system
For many people, the concept of a career ladder doesn’t apply anymore. Instead, you’re more likely to follow something like a career lattice as you seek ways around organizational rigidity and restricted upward mobility.
The ability to pivot in response to situational demands and stagnant scenarios is critical to sustaining your momentum. How do you recognize plateaus in your development? What’s your basis for determining when a job is likely to be a dead end? And how do you successfully transition out of such situations before your career gets stalled?
There’s no secret formula for success because everyone is different. What you can do, however, is to develop a personal system of feedback and decision-making. Consciously arm yourself with the skills and qualities that transfer well and allow you to pivot as needed. It will help you to adjust amid change or the lack of it.