After a few months stuck at home, more than half the world is either just beginning to return to normal (and the office) or they’ve been left wondering what comes next.
It’s going to take a while for recruitment and the economy to pick up again, and we’re certainly going to face a few more challenges and shake-ups in the year ahead as we deal with the fall-out of COVID-19. Anxieties abound, making a plan for your career or finding work might seem like a mammoth task.
Rest assured, that’s a completely normal reaction. Even without recent events, a reported 48 percent of us have concerns that we’ll be made redundant from our jobs. A number that is undoubtedly skyrocketing given the uncertainty we’re all living in right now.
It’s in times like these that we need to take a step back. There are a thousand unknowns and attempting to get a handle on them all will only leave you emotionally exhausted. Instead, it’s best to focus on the things that are within your control, no matter how small they might seem.
The small things can quickly become the building blocks of bigger changes and help you feel empowered rather than trapped during this time.
Aside from the stock standard ‘update your resume and cover letter, here are six to get you started:

1. Update Your LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn has a bit of a love-it or hate-it vibe but it’s still a great resource to utilize when you’re looking for work or thinking it’s time to move on.
If it’s been a while since you took a peek at your profile, now is the perfect time to get stuck into some updates. LinkedIn is continuously improving the way your professional profile is presented and has inbuilt step-by-step guidance to help you maximize visibility. You can now set your profile to ‘Actively Seeking Opportunities’ to indicate to potential employers and recruiters you’re looking for work and follow companies for job openings as soon as they happen.
Spend some time making sure all your job titles are up-to-date, remove anything outdated, and include links to projects or resources that align with your work or professional identity. Endorse colleagues skills and politely seek recommendations from past employers.
It’s a project that might take you a little while to polish up but one worth investing in.

2. Expand Your Knowledge

When I work with graduates and young people on finding work, we’ll scan through job ads looking at the skills and requirements to identify gaps. More often than not, they become agitated when their dream role wants them to have skills they don’t have.
It’s a great learning opportunity to let them in on a little industry secret. Learning professional skills? It’s a lifelong hobby.
Once we finish our formal education, we have to make a continual commitment to staying up-to-date, identify where we have gaps, and act proactively to address them. I’m willing to bet that for many people over the last few months, professional development and learning as likely slipped onto the back-burner.
If you’re seeking ways to feel in control and proactive about your career, an online course or workshop could be just the thing you need. There are quite literally limitless options when it comes to stacking up your professional credentials, and it doesn’t have to cost the earth. Whether you want something to help you in your current role or you’re seeking to strike out in a new direction entirely, there’s something for everyone.

3. Check-In With Your Network

A lack of face-to-face meetings includes zero opportunities for professional networking, and all conferences are off the table until further notice. Networking might seem like a foreign concept in our current climates, but it’s not completely off the table.
A tip-top LinkedIn profile comes in handy here, as you can reach out to potential contacts online. Identify people doing work you admire, or in roles, you aspire to and drop them a message to see if they’d be open to chat about their work.
Are you involved with any professional associations for your industry? I’ve found that many of them have been offering free professional development workshops, as well as regular Zoom meetings simply giving members a chance to chat and discuss how COVID has been impacting their industry and day-to-day jobs. It’s a great way to feel less alone but also connect with some new faces.
And connections definitely something we could all do with a little more of right now.

4. Set Up A Professional Website

I’m the first person to initiate a heavy eye-roll at the concept of fostering a personal brand, but I have to grudgingly admit it does hold some weight.
If unemployment is on the books, setting up a digital space that contains your resume, write-ups of any projects and programs you’ve helped on, as well as a weekly blog on your own thoughts about your industry (positive please!) could be exactly what sets you out from the rest of the pack.
Consider this a portfolio where you get to showcase your in-depth knowledge and understanding of the work you do (or want to do) and include the link to your site on your resume. It’s a great way to invite employers to get to know you better.
Share your site across your LinkedIn or social media sites and you’ll start to establish yourself as a credible individual in your profession who’s invested in their work (extremely impressive to those making hiring decisions).

5. Create Some ‘How-To’ Guides

Digital literacy is a very real thing, and there are heaps of us who frequently have to Google how to do specific things — whether in email, Excel, or Word — I’ll happily admit I have a few knowledge gaps!
But it’s not just digital skills. Lots of people every day are looking for ways to simplify their workday or understand how to do something quickly and easily. If you’ve got a little bit of niche knowledge, creating a How-To guide is a great way to boost your professional identity. When working with graduates, I always encourage them to do write-ups for their portfolio or blog showing how they can do particular tasks or utilize specific techniques/programs. This way, even if they don’t have hard experience in the workplace, they can showcase that they know (some) of what they’re talking about and give an employer confidence in their skills.
Identify common question-points in your day-to-day job or industry and do a write-up — you might even visit a few of your own gaps and write about those! Share online (LinkedIn/your website) and invite others to comment or share their input. You could even ask if anyone has a knowledge gap they’d like you to write about.
You might find it’s a surprisingly cathartic process!

6. Start A Business Book Club

Okay, so it doesn’t necessarily need to be a ‘business’ book club per se, but reading a good book is a great career-boosting activity as it can help to expand your thinking and introduce you to new concepts applicable to your workplace.
There is a world of books out there for every single industry imaginable, or you could pick a broader topic of interest such as leadership, workplace culture, or emotional intelligence in the office.
You can read alone or rope in a few other colleagues or industry peers to read along with you. You could read a chapter a week and follow it up with a Zoom discussion or read the whole thing before you discuss it together. Either way, it’s a different way of adding to your personal knowledge and growing as a professional.

Or you could choose not to do any of these things.
Losing a job or part of your professional identity as a result of the current pandemic can be a shock to the system. It’s more than okay to take the time you need right now to grieve what’s happened before you start to look at how you might move forward.
Know you are not alone in this experience. When you’re ready to take the next step forward, there’s plenty of ways to do so.