Choose a growth mindset and create a P.L.A.N. that helps you anticipate career changes explains Julie Perrine
We are living in unprecedented times. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of people have been ordered to stay home to help stop the spread of the virus and minimize the impact. We see examples of panic buying and hoarding each time we go to the supermarket for food and other essentials. Schools are closed, social gatherings are prohibited, and a video chat is the closest most of us have been to our friends and family in weeks.
Business has been affected in ways we have never seen before. Small businesses and huge corporations alike have shuttered. Some have moved to a “work from home” model, allowing their employees to keep their jobs. Others have furloughed workers, promising to take them back as soon as life returns to some semblance of normalcy. Unfortunately, some businesses will never reopen.
Even the most optimistic among us can have moments of doubt, fear, and worry. Many of us remember the fallout from the tech bubble bursting in 2001 and the financial crisis that took over the headlines for most of 2008 and 2009. It’s easy to look back and see how bad things were then and extrapolate that to our current situation.
Take a Proactive Approach
While it’s natural to be anxious, I find that allowing myself to be consumed by things that are out of my control forces me into a reactive mindset. I’m reacting to things that are happening to me, rather than being proactive and focusing on the things I can control. And believe it or not, there are plenty of things you can control – even now!
I’m a planner by nature, so anytime I start to feel things sliding sideways, I take a proactive approach. What do I need to be learning in this moment that will help me later? What do I need to do to quickly course-correct and, if necessary, hit the reset button? How can I get myself back to normal as fast as possible? If plan A fails, am I immediately able to transition to plan B or plan C?
If you already have a strategic administrative career plan, now is a fantastic time to revisit it, make sure it’s up to date, and account for and adjust it to current events. If you don’t have a career plan but would like to develop one, I invite you to join us over at AllThingsAdmin.com where we have a free 5-day challenge that will help you.
Whether or not you have a formal administrative career plan already in place, there are specific things you can do today to create an instant strategy P.L.A.N. to help you be prepared for whatever career changes lie ahead.
P.L.A.N. is an acronym I use to make these steps simple to remember.
P Stands for Professional Portfolio
Your professional portfolio is a compilation of all the things you’ve accomplished in your career. It shines a spotlight on your skills and experience, highlights career achievements in an easy-to-share format and proves that you can do what you say you can.
Your professional portfolio can be in digital or print format, although I recommend you have both. Your digital portfolio will hold your “best of the best” examples, while your print portfolio gives you more space to include documentation of your skills and accolades.
A professional portfolio is a useful tool during your annual review or when you’re seeking a raise or promotion, as it proves your value and commitment to your executive and organization. And it’s invaluable during a job search, where it serves as physical proof of your skills and abilities.
Examples of items to include
- Your resume
- Proof of education and training, such as diplomas or any certifications you may have earned
- Copies of favorable performance reviews from the past three to five years
- Physical letters of recommendation and screenshots of online recommendations from your LinkedIn profile
- Copies of personality type and strengths assessments
- Work samples, including templates you have created, samples of procedures you’ve written, project plans you’ve managed, photos of events you’ve planned, etc.
- A list of professional associations you belong to
- Documentation of leadership roles you’ve held and a list of things you were responsible for within the role
- Awards you have won
- Places you’ve volunteered and details about the duties you performed
Remember to redact any confidential company information from the things you include in your professional portfolio. Not only does accidentally sharing trade secrets open you up to liability from your previous company, it can cause future employers to think twice about your judgement and professionalism.
Make it a habit to regularly review your portfolio and include new certifications, awards, recommendations, training certificates, etc. as you receive them. Start pulling work samples, templates, documents, photos, and screenshots of items you want to include immediately! It’s not impossible to recreate a work sample after you leave a company, but it’s a lot easier to use what you have access to right now as your starting point. Ideally, your professional portfolio should always be up to date and ready to share at a moment’s notice!
L Stands for Your LinkedIn Profile
If you don’t already have a LinkedIn profile, now is the time to create one. The platform is an invaluable resource for networking, job seeking, and learning from your peers. Underestimating the power this social media site can have on your career can be disastrous!
If you already have a profile but haven’t visited it in a while, it’s past time for an overhaul. Make sure that your information is up to date, your profile picture is professional, and everything is in order.
Worried that your connections will get the wrong idea if they see you updating your LinkedIn profile? It’s easy to disable notifications. Simply uncheck the appropriate box in the settings, and they’ll be none the wiser.
There is a popular fallacy that says companies aren’t looking to hire during an economic downturn. The truth is your dream job could present itself at any time! Don’t use current events as an excuse to stall or procrastinate – you never know when opportunity will come knocking!
A Stands for Accomplishments-Focused Resume
All too often, I see admins make the mistake of focusing their resume on their duties and responsibilities rather than their actual accomplishments. Did you create or streamline procedures? Did you save the company time or money by making something more efficient? Have you led a project team or played a key role supporting one? What results did you get?
Here are some examples to get you thinking:
- Implemented X, which reduced average processing time by X hours/days/weeks/months.
- Increased productivity by X% by implementing X.
- Saved $X in a 12-month period by doing X.
- Reduced customer complaint emails by X% by learning basic HTML so I could assist with basic website updates.
A potential employer doesn’t care that you were responsible for budget meetings or that your duties included handling expense reports; they want to see that you created a template that streamlined the budget meetings or reduced inaccuracies in expense reports by 15 percent over the course of four years.
Numbers have power, so use them whenever possible, provided they’re accurate. “During my time at company X, I increased my department’s revenue by $Y in Z period of time” sounds a lot more powerful than “I increased sales.”
N Stands for Nurture Your Network
Your professional network can be one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal, provided you take care of it properly. It really is all about “who you know”, but if you’re not actively nurturing these relationships in the good times, they won’t necessarily be available to you in the bad. No one likes to feel used.
Make connecting with your network on a regular basis a priority. Check in by phone and email and, when it’s safe to do so, in person. Even just sharing the occasional article with someone in your network who might find it relevant can help keep the channels of communication open without being overly intrusive!
We’re All in This Together!
The future seems uncertain right now. We haven’t seen such an impactful global event since the Spanish Flu more than 100 years ago. And the long-term effects on the economy will likely be felt long after the virus is just a memory.
Unlike other localized disasters, both manmade and natural, we are all in the same boat. Everyone is feeling the same strain and experiencing the same unsettlement. We’re facing an economic reality we cannot afford to ignore – but when we choose to adopt the growth mindset and create a P.L.A.N. that helps us anticipate career changes, we ensure that we’re as prepared as we can be for whatever lies ahead!