You’re reading If This Is The Year, a series of guides to tackling those big life goals the pandemic has put on hold – with the help of experts, we’re breaking things down into more manageable steps to take in 2022.
The pandemic has changed the world of work forever, and for many of us, it’s also changed what we want from our jobs.
In 2021, as employees around the globe reassessed their career paths, hundreds of thousands of people handed in their notices, in a trend dubbed The Great Resignation.
But finding career fulfilment in 2022 may not necessarily mean quitting your job. It could mean getting a promotion, reimagining your role, or even building your own business on the side in preparation for making that dream leap.
Whatever career move you’ve got in mind, there are steps you can take throughout the year to make it happen, says Nancy Roberts, who offers career training, coaching and mentoring. But before you dive in, it’s important to establish the right mindset and prepare for inevitable setbacks.
“Try to reframe setbacks – such as rejections, which we have all had at some point – as opportunities to learn,” she says. “For example, if you are turned down for a promotion or a new role, can you get feedback on any weaknesses in your application and act on these?
“If you’ve started a business and find that someone else is already doing something similar, don’t abandon your plan, take it as confirmation that you have identified a real need and interrogate what your competitor is doing and where you might have a different value proposition or a different market sector to target.”
Changing your critical voice into a curious voice will help you get through the down times and keep you focused on moving towards your goal, she adds. Also, remember there are things that you can’t control in good ways too – you never know when the right opportunity will arise and it won’t always be when you are expecting it.
“Don’t obsess about the end goal too much,” says Roberts. “Instead see your
project as one of preparing yourself to be as ready as you can be when the right thing does come along.”
Here, Roberts provides actionable steps you can take in 2022 to help make that career move a reality.
Step 1 (start today): Research and self-reflection
“Do a personal SWOT analysis to help you understand what you may need to work on, what strengths you already have that you can build on, and where opportunities might arise – these may well be outside of your current sector or role, so try to think broadly at first, you can then narrow down your focus as you learn more,” says Roberts.
“More than a specific role or company, you should consider things like salary, work location, flexibility, and your personal values, to ensure you are going to pursue the best course of action for the career that you want to achieve.”
Step 2 (spring): Start taking action to move yourself forward
Look around sites like LinkedIn and reach out to people who are doing things you admire, says Roberts.
“In my experience people are generally flattered to be asked about how they got to where they are and will happily give you half an hour of their time to share some advice,” she adds.
“This is also a good moment to shore up any weaknesses you’ve identified that might hold you back; are there LinkedIn Learning courses you could take? Or could you sign up to a site like Skillshare and brush up on some key skills?”
Step 3 (summer): Revamp your CV
Summer is generally a quiet time for recruitment so don’t be disheartened if the opportunities you are hoping for seem a bit thin on the ground.
“Use this time to make sure your CV is perfect,” says Roberts. “Write a personal statement that gives a recruiter a very clear idea of what makes you special, and put this front and centre. And get someone else to proofread your CV to ensure there are no spelling mistakes!”
If you’re planning a summer holiday, you could take along some reading that will support your development.
Roberts recommends Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence, which “will help you develop those softer skills that are vitally useful in any role, sector or organisation, and even more so as you move up the career ladder”.
Step 4 (autumn/winter): Really push forward
If you are looking for a new role (and haven’t yet got applications under way) set yourself a target of sending out two or three applications per week.
“Don’t set this figure too high as you need to spend time putting in the best application you can, but make sure you are stretching yourself a bit too,” says Roberts.
If roles being advertised aren’t right for you, send some speculative applications to companies that you admire. “You never know when a gap might open up that isn’t being widely advertised,” says Roberts.
If you are planning to start up your own business, then get your business plan in place, think about funding, and get ready to launch.
“At this stage, networks really come into their own, whether you are job hunting or launching your own idea into the world, so share what you’re doing on LinkedIn and social media,” says Roberts.
“Also remember that reciprocity is important in building influence so if people help you out with leads, tips and insights, try to find a way to support their work too, and you will have them coming back to you whenever they hear of anything that might be of interest. And when you do finally nail that dream career, take time out to acknowledge and thank the people who have helped you along the way!”
A tip from someone who’s done it
Ruth Lue-Quee, 30, from Wolverhampton, was a career-driven deputy headteacher who’d risen through the ranks by the age of 27. But in 2019, she had a son and realised the 75-hour working weeks simply weren’t possible any more.
“I would be in school at 7:30am each morning, leave around 6pm and work evenings and weekends,” she recalls. “When my request for flexible working was turned down I decided to resign not knowing what I would do.”
Fast forward to June 2021, and Lue-Quee set up her own business, My Mummy Teacher, which offers play cards, resources and coaching services to support parents in helping their children to learn.
Her top tip for those wishing to make a big career move in 2022 is to “trust your gut, follow your instincts and just go for it”.
“Little steps lead to big progress and be inspired by others – if you see someone else doing something similar, it’s proof that it can done – so go for it!” she adds. “You don’t have to be stuck in the career you’ve always done, there are always options, you just have to believe in yourself.”