Perhaps you’ve been laid off during the Covid-19 pandemic or chose to quit like one in four women have done, according to McKinsey’s latest research. Or maybe you’ve decided that this is the time to get your career going again after a pause. Whatever your situation, here are five things to consider as you contemplate your next career move.
1. THINK EXPANSIVELY ABOUT WHAT’S NEXT
Many women Diane coaches at ReBoot Accel, a company that helps women return to work, fall back on whatever they’ve done before in their careers. Accountants go back to accounting. Lawyers return to practicing law. But the ones who find the greatest fulfillment are often those who think more expansively about what’s truly possible. This is your chance to design the life you WANT, not continue the life you’ve HAD. We’ve seen women develop start-ups, become coaches, pursue new dreams and pivot into brand-new roles. They spend the time reflecting on their non-negotiable values and what really makes them tick. Do you seek flexibility, health benefits, remote work, a mission-driven enterprise? Many benefit from this Personal Inventory that Diane developed when she resumed her career after a 16-year gap to raise kids. Spending time in self-reflection can make a world of difference in landing a role that brings fulfillment and joy.
2. CULTIVATE YOUR PERSONAL BRAND
Whether you think you have a personal brand or not, rest assured that you do! If you’re nowhere to be found on social media (especially LinkedIn,) then that’s your brand. We always advise people to think of their brand as “aspirational.” Don’t just focus on what you’ve done in the past; focus on projects or employment you want to land next. If working in sustainability is your passion and you haven’t done a project in this area in a decade, then lead with that project. Start following bloggers who write about the environment, post thoughtful and informed comments, and perhaps become a thought leader yourself. Write a blog on zero-waste packaging. Get involved with a volunteer organization so you can add that as a current activity on your resume. And remember, no one really cares if you are paid for your work or not. They care about the skills, talents and passion you bring to the role. Make sure your brand is consistent across all social media platforms, and if you only want to invest in one platform, it must be LinkedIn. This is the first stop for recruiters and hiring managers seeking talent. THIS is the place where your brand must be consistent and convincing.
3. REMEMBER: YOUR NETWORK IS YOUR NET WORTH
More than 85 percent of individuals over 50 will land their role through networking. Sadly, ageism is a reality, so our resumes don’t naturally float to the top of the pile when run through automated resume filters (ATS.)
But that parent at school, that former colleague (even from decades ago,) that friend of your spouse’s – they can be just the referral you need. They know your integrity, commitment and passions, and can provide valuable connections to help you land the job. LinkedIn “magically” connects you with alums from your high school or college and others who can open doors at desired companies. Buy them a (virtual) coffee and learn more about the role. Perfect your “pitch” and always have a kind “ask.” If they’re not the right connection for you, ask who else with whom you might speak. We have seen over and over that THIS is the way people over 50 are finding dream jobs.
And remember: your next job will not likely come from your innermost circle on any social network. Two to three rings out hold the most promise – especially if you’re reinventing. Posting valuable content in the areas you care about on LinkedIn is one way to get a conversation going. Responding to the comments is another.
Lesley knows one woman who decided to break into the tech space by setting arbitrary goals of following the top 200 people in the industry, attending 20 conferences, and having deliberate, informed conversations with anyone in the industry she met for a year. That’s how she actually worked her way into an entrepreneur-in-residence position at one of the major software developers!
4. USE THE EXTRA TIME DURING THE PANDEMIC TO LEVEL UP OR UPSKILL
One of the unexpected boons of the pandemic is the downtime it has afforded some women – particularly those of a certain age. With no tiny kids to homeschool, no breakfast meetings or client dinners to attend, no trains or busses to run for, many women 50+ find they have more time to dedicate to discovering what’s next for them. Use this time to level up your skills that were lagging or upskill. There are literally thousands of courses and weekly workshops online for free or at varying price points. Check out Udemy and Coursera if you’re willing to make a semester-long commitment. For more intimate, personal settings, check out Lesley’s CoveyClub where they teach everything from how to nail your LinkedIn profile to launching a small business or buying one instead. Reboot Accel, where Diane is a co-founder, offers weekly workshops and coaching on all subjects surrounding workforce re-entry.
5. REINVENT HOW YOU PRESENT TO THE WORLD
We don’t want this to sound superficial, but here’s the truth: there’s nothing like time out of the office to work on your physical rejuvenation and feeling your best. Since no one is seeing you on a daily basis, now might be the perfect time to experiment with a new cut or embracing your silver gray.
And by the way, experimenting with what looks good on camera during this work-from-home moment may give you some ideas for updating your style. Try a new color and see how it goes (yes, step away from the black!) It could inject new life into your personal brand in a way that makes you stand out from the crowd. And that, after all, is what pivoting in the pandemic is all about.