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Progressing your career during a pandemic

Redundancies and remote working are, unfortunately, strongly associated with the coronavarius pandemic. Those of us who are lucky enough to remain in employment may be thanking our lucky stars and not inclined to push our luck. But the pandemic doesn’t have to mean promotion is out of the question.

First, be visible. Make sure you schedule regular one to ones with your boss and update them on what you’re doing. Remember that they’ll be just as time-stretched as everyone else so don’t needlessly email every time you complete a task, but remind them to schedule in face-to-face one-to-ones regularly so you can talk through progress and report on your successes. People who do well have a habit of just getting on with things, particularly women, so don’t be afraid to be vocal about your achievements. Other people will be, and they’ll be the people who are being earmarked for progression.

Look at what stretch development you can do working remotely – something that takes you out of your comfort zone. If you have capacity, ask if you can take on something different or new, or if you have ideas for new ways of doing things, suggest them. Businesses are increasingly looking to develop and recruit people who thrive on change, so don’t be afraid to suggest new ways of working. Demonstrating a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset is critical, people have to reimagine how they do business in a way they’ve never had to before.

Get yourself an internal mentor in the business and take advantage of the fact that working is online to expand your search to an office in a different city, or even a different part of the world. Choose a mentor who’s senior to you obviously, but also think about someone who’s in a different part of the business to widen your knowledge. If they are in a different country, take the opportunity to learn about the culture and ways of doing business in that country.

If you have time, also volunteer to become a mentor to someone more junior so you’re making a wider contribution to the business. Report back to your line manager with suggestions and insight to show that you have emotional intelligence. If you don’t have time to formally mentor someone, look out for people who are struggling and offer emotional support to them.

If you want to progress as a leader look at some of the latest thought leadership books that are out, if you learn through reading, or watch the latest TED talks and other resources on YouTube. Find the latest reports that are coming out on the future of leadership, learn about the new skills needed to progress.

When you are in meetings make sure you’re positively contributing so people can see your value. It can be hard to be noticed on an online Zoom or Teams call, so if you find yourself repeatedly passed over or talked over suggest a round-table format, where everyone gets the chance to talk in turn, or even offer to host the meeting yourself and set the agenda.

Find networking groups in your business, sector or geographical area – they’ll all be online now so you can meet a good spread of people with valuable experience in just half an hour or an hour a week. Introduce people you meet to your line manager, explain how they can add value or discuss new ideas you heard during the networking meetings. Again, be visible. Make sure you’re seen to be pro-actively pushing and stretching yourself. It will be noticed.