Covid-19 has taught us many life lessons and reinforced one thing: The future of work is here and here to stay. Trends that had been waiting in the wings have been fast-tracked and we have entered a new normal. Different times require different approaches so if you want to make 2021 your career year, I suggest avoiding these five mistakes (as they’ll have more of a negative impact than ever before).
Mistake No. 1: Not Building Your Brand
Unfortunately, Covid-19 has impacted many industries and professions. Some have recovered, some will still be down for a while, some might never come back. Because of this, it’s important to build a brand that goes beyond your job title and profession. You want to be known for something bigger.
You own your name and, with that, your reputation. So managing and focusing on what makes you different and being able to communicate that clearly, online and offline, is required to thrive in this fast-changing world of work.
Take a hard look at yourself and answer these questions:
1. What would people say about you who work with you, know you or have heard of you?
2. How easy is it for others to refer you and make relevant introductions?
3. Are you known as the go-to-person for something?
4. When people Google your name, what comes up? Are you happy with the results? Is it you in the picture or someone else?
5. Are you searchable at all?
6. Would decision-makers know straight away what you could do for them and get in touch?
Mistake No. 2: Neglecting Your Online Presence
If you currently don’t have or neglect your online profile and don’t manage a presence that you’re proud of that showcases your point of difference, then you’re likely missing out on career opportunities.
Covid-19 has both restricted and also presented new opportunities for the way we live, work, act and interact. The online world doesn’t just offer incredible flexibility because you can work from wherever you are and whenever you want, but it also opens up opportunities that weren’t there before. On the flip side, it has also made the market more competitive. No longer are we just up against local talents — we are competing with a global pool of experts. There is also no lack of information and knowledge anymore. What really makes or breaks your success is your “how to” — your approach and personality.
The questions you want to ask yourself are:
1. What does your online profile say about you?
2. Do you have social proof (through LinkedIn recommendations, podcast interviews, media features, your own content, etc.) of your claims?
3. Can people connect with you and get to know you before you actually have the first contact?
Mistake No. 3: Not Investing In Ongoing Development
Traditional education isn’t cut out to equip you for constant change. By the time you finish your degree, a lot of what you’ve learned may already be outdated.
Learning for the future of work is bite-sized and on-demand; it’s self-initiated and self-paced. It requires you to know what type of learner you are. You must be able to access relevant information and resources quickly and also have a system to put theory into practice straight away.
Research suggests that by 2022, we’ll need another 101 days of additional learning. Going back to school whilst managing a full-time job, family and ideally some downtime to stay sane isn’t an option for most. So, learning needs to be integrated into everyday life. Here are some ways to engage in ongoing, integrated development:
1. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks on the go.
2. Tap into communities of like-minded people and learn as a collective from and with each other.
3. Have an accountability partner, coach or mentor to prioritize implementation and avoid knowledge overwhelm.
Mistake No. 4: Having Only One Career
We can now combine learning with getting paid. For example, you might have a day job in accounting but can get paid for hosting a workshop or event outside of work. Building a portfolio career enables you to diversify your income and reduce the risk in the event of one company, one industry or one engagement being disrupted. It will also help you build your skill sets, industry experience and networks.
Here’s how to build a portfolio career:
1. Identify the skills you want to focus on improving.
2. Ensure that the portfolio career works with your other commitments.
3. Get first-hand insight from people who already have that type of portfolio career.
4. Start small with one-off projects or smaller commitments.
5. Commit to a certain period, then evaluate if it’s the right fit. Every start can be tough as it requires a new routine and too many give up too early.
Mistake No. 5: Not Building A Diverse Network
Given that the majority of jobs are filled through networking, chances are you will get your next opportunity through someone you know. In our busy bubble, we often forget to not only build relationships inside the company and industry we’re operating in, but also extend our reach through building a diverse network. Good news: It’s never been easier thanks to technology!
To get started:
1. Join a meetup group. Many of the events are now online and affordable.
2. Engage with groups on Linkedin or Facebook.
3. Attend online summits and events.
4. Be proactive — reach out directly, make introductions and don’t be shy about asking for introductions.
Big results don’t happen overnight. If you want to kick off the new year with a bang, you better get started now and lay the foundation. As the saying goes, “You build a roof when the sun shines; not when it’s raining.” Here’s to taking control of your career in 2021!