Though the pandemic has stunted industry growth, a few of its upsides have done more good than harm. As the world around us bounces back, you might have pondered—more than once—doing the same with your career. It is natural and even beneficial, to feel stagnant and stuck professionally occasionally. Maybe you have thought about a complete change in your career path or simply feel motivated to push the boundaries and grow within your current role and organization. Often, these instincts motivate behavior that is goal-oriented and productive. You use this four-step plan to take that leap of faith you've been chewing on and drive your career to the next level.

Step 1: Pitch New Ideas and Bring them to Life 

A few weeks ago, my team and I had the eureka moment of making bite-sized videos on LinkedIn explaining our services and answering frequently asked questions. You can do the same to enhance your current company by pitching a new program that will add value (remember to stay in the budget given the economic downturn) or brainstorming ideas to streamline current processes. Innovating is something that will pay off in the event of promotions or future jobs.

Brewing new ideas that not only put you on the fast track to career growth but also channel your skills (like I did by filming videos), is another way of moving onward.

Step 2: Upskill Yourself to Broaden your Horizons

Another upside to the outbreak? There is an explosion of free or discounted online courses. If you work from home, you inevitably have spare time to enroll in a 2-3 week or even longer course extended by websites such as Coursera, Udemy, Alison, and LinkedIn. On your way to work, you can expand your current industry-specific knowledge by queuing up a podcast instead of your usual playlist. Earn a new certificate, learn a foreign language if that adds to your qualifications, and acquire subject-matter expertise in diverse areas. Keep your options open by assessing the industry you are in and, if need be, switching to a more desirable and lucrative practice. Upskilling will show present and future managers that you are proactive and willing to broaden your horizons despite the current landscape.

Step 3: Stay Active on LinkedIn

It's crucial to consider different avenues while enhancing your career. Leveraging LinkedIn is the best place to increase visibility and build a personal brand. 87% of recruiters use this platform to find job candidates, more than all other major social media networks combined. Adding connections on LinkedIn not only helps your profile rank higher, but also widens your network and, therefore, your reach, doubling your job opportunities. Here is an action guide on how you can effectively revamp your LinkedIn page with 7 pragmatic to-dos.

LinkedIn's Pulse is a powerful tool for marketing your services, with an incredible publishing platform for creating compelling content and highlighting your subject matter expertise. In the recommendation section, you can recommend your colleagues and ask them to return the favour. This instantly increases your credibility and indicates the strong bonds you've nurtured throughout your professional career. Using your spare time to strengthen your professional reputation is probably the most productive thing you can do right now.

Step 4: Collaborate to Turnaround your Business

The pandemic has shifted most, if not all, interactions online, making the bulk of us wary of virtual collaborations. Collaboration, according to research, is a significant predictor of how companies handle emergencies like the pandemic. Harvard Business Review offers an insightful take on this. The anxiety that follows a crisis makes people risk-averse and they are less willing to pursue differing perspectives. Relying on activities that have previously worked, businesses display what researchers refer to as "threat rigidity".

In other words, the dearth of opportunities in a crisis leads companies to focus more on self-preservation than collaboration. Underpinned by mutual benefit, co-creation and shared authority, cross-selling comes with a cruise of benefits, such as increased sales revenue and improved customer satisfaction, which, when persistently pursued, can turn around your business—even in the pandemic.

The pandemic has slowed the world down, giving us time to reflect... and act. How you spend this time depends on the choices you make. Making calculated, purpose-driven decisions will get you one step closer every day to your vision and what better time to start than now? To consciously shift from traditional career advancement techniques to new ones, a cognitive shift is a must. Actively working towards developing and reinventing your career in this "time-out" will yield results now as well as in the long run.

This article has been contributed by Shabbir Kagalwala

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