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Susan Del Percio: How flexible thinking can set you on the path to career success during COVID

While 61 percent of women are looking to pivot careers now, the Lincoln Project senior advisor and Republican consultant advises them not to limit themselves to the four corners of a job posting.

Typically, when a conversation about flexibility in the workplace comes up, it is assumed that the discussion will focus on the need for adjustable hours, an accommodation for personal style, or adapting to a new situation.

This was not the case back in February when “Morning Joe” co-host and Know Your Value founder, Mika Brzezinski, brought up the of subject of flexibility and how it pertains to career success, especially when it comes to women.

During the interview we discussed how women prefer to know the rules and play by rules. That concept is backed up with research from LinkedIn’s 2019 Gender Insights Report: "In order to apply for a job, women feel they need to meet 100 percent of the criteria while men usually apply after meeting about 60 percent.”

Working during the pandemic has left us all little wobbly, and many people, particularly women, are looking for stronger footing as we evaluate our careers. In fact, new data that suggests as many as 61 percent of women are looking to pivot careers due to Covid-19.

Therefore, it’s critical that as women search for new career opportunities they must not limit themselves to the four corners of a job posting. In other words, do not take yourself out of the application process just because your skills or experience do not line up perfectly (there are plenty of people who will do that for you). Instead, focus on your qualifications and expertise that make you stand out from the other applicants. And, of course, a little creative interpretation never hurt either.

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The coronavirus has forced large corporations and small businesses to re-examine their operations and requirements – so should you. This is a perfect time to reassess the idea of flexibility in a new job or seeking a promotion. We have all learned a lot about how to work under a new dynamic. You may have been working remotely or your office has been restructured to incorporate social distancing rules, either way you have found new ways to get the job done.

Those skills, along with rethinking the requirements of a job, can open new doors. During that February interview with Mika, my colleague Adrienne Elrod, who is currently the director of talent and external relations for the President-elect Biden Inaugural Committee, explained the importance of thinking outside of the box. Sometimes the job you are interviewing for may lead to a different outcome. For example, if you have your own business, and you see an interesting job posting, you may want to explore if that company is willing to hire you as a consultant. It could end up as a win-win.

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This is also a great time to remove barriers that prevented you from applying for certain jobs. For example, if traveling or scheduling for a prospective job was a deterrent, today it may not be. In the wake of the pandemic, businesses are re-evaluating the need and expense for travel and office space.

In fact, Microsoft co-founder, Bill Gates anticipates that, “over 50 percent of business travel and over 30 percent of days in the office will go away in the pandemic’s aftermath.”

If there is ever a time for norm-busting it is during a pandemic, so go for it. Reach out to a recruiter, search job sites and most of all stop limiting where you see yourself. At a time where everything is upside down and sideways, you never know where you may end up.