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How to remain positive about your career prospects during a pandemic

By Alison Rodericks | 27 April 2020


The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives – personal, public and professional. While many of us may not relish working from home, we need to realise that this is a privilege not everybody has and make the most of it. 

Of course, this is easier said than done. If you’re a parent working from home, you have the trifecta of trying to be productive, taking care of your kids and also helping your children with their online learning, which can be challenging and chaotic. If you live by yourself, social isolation can be lonely. If you live with roommates, it can mean a lot of adjustment in terms of personal space and privacy. 

According to the WHO, over 264 million people around the globe experience depression and, at times like this, this number is bound to spike. Now, more than ever, as we undergo rapid global changes and uncertainty, we’ve got to stay positive, especially about our career prospects when so many around us are losing their jobs. Let’s figure out how to thrive, not just survive, in these unprecedented times. 

1. Make a plan.

Whether you live with your immediate family or roommates, sit down and make a plan pertaining to everyone’s work schedule – who is working where, who gets what device and when, what each person’s priorities and problems are. 

Yes, kids and roommates have the tendency to interrupt those Zoom calls at the most inopportune moments but see the humour in it – life does get in the way. Talk about boundaries and figure out how to support each other while working from home, so that you meet work targets. Create a timetable, set phone alarms and reminders and, above all, exercise your self-discipline to get work done efficiently and on time.

2. Share your fears.

virtual meeting on laptop with colleagues

Everyone’s emotions are bubbling at the surface and it can all get too much at times, on the work front and at home. Make sure you have a support system in case this happens – partner/friends/co-workers/boss. What does your ideal workday look like and what’s getting in the way of productivity? Focus on what and who makes you happy during the day and how you feel after doing core elements of your job. It’s important to talk about your apprehensions but try not to let them bog you down.

3. Set boundaries.

The issue with working from home is that the boundaries between your personal and work life can get blurred. This is why it is important to keep clear parameters around your workday. How about silencing work-related notifications that keep pinging during your leisure time? 

Set clear expectations with your manager and colleagues that you are not going to be online all day – and stick to it so that you can spend the rest of your day with your family or pursuing your hobbies.  

4. Study online.

father studying online with toddler

While it may be tempting to binge-watch all your favourite shows on Netflix, use your time wisely. Enrol in an online course to help you upskill and boost your career prospects. If you’ve lost your job, have your hours cut back or just want to retrain, now is the time to start studying online. Upskilled has a range of courses from business to community services and IT. 

5. Job hunt differently.

If you’re looking for a job, you’re probably thinking you should put your job hunting on pause. If your workplace seems secure enough, you’re probably right. But if you do need to look for work, it pays to think outside the box

Recruiters on LinkedIn have said that hiring new staff has gone virtual, with online interviews being the new name of the game. Don’t forget to network with previous colleagues and bosses – it’s who you know, not what you know. 

6. Keep physically and mentally fit.

Stretch your legs by going out for a walk/run, download a mindfulness app to practise guided meditation (start with just 3 minutes at first), get some fresh air and get some sunlight. Dust off those board games and puzzles, organise a movie night, have a dance-off. 

Take the time and trouble to cook healthy meals and sit down to enjoy them. It’s your chance to engage in all those activities you’ve been putting on the backburner. Not only will they reduce your blood pressure and cortisol levels (stress hormone), they will also keep you engaged.

7. Keep connected.

Thanks to modern technology, we can keep apart physically but stay in touch online. Use this gift of time to call up your friends and family. Reach out to someone in your network or give a co-worker a recommendation on LinkedIn. Think of those who are lonely and less fortunate and reach out to them. 

You have an important role to play in how you deal with the coronavirus pandemic. When you look back on it in years to come, what do you want to remember? It’s your chance to make it a time for growth, introspection, connection and positivity
 
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