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Building Career Resilience - 8 Action Steps to Increase Professional Flexibility

I recently returned to a cardio dance class at my local gym after a two-year hiatus. The Covid-19 pandemic shut down many things for all of us, and this was one of the beloved things in my weekly ‘self-care routine’.

But… halfway through the first routine, my self-care activity started to feel more like self-torture. My body let me know that my stamina was left back in 2020 and regular stretching needs to be prioritized in my daily life. I was reminded that flexibility is a necessary requirement for movement. Another word connected to flexibility is RESILIENCE.

The American Psychological Association Dictionary of Psychology defines resilience as this:

“The process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences, especially through mental, emotional, and behavioral flexibility and adjustment to external and internal demands (psychological resilience, 2022).

In other words, we need flexibility to successfully overcome the challenges life can randomly throw our way. Now, let’s look at this in terms of your career. We all just faced, and in some ways still facing, career challenges due to the pandemic. That situation forced us to be real with ourselves and highlighted the need to be better prepared to adjust quickly in order to survive.

As a Career Resilience Coach, I aid others with learning how to flexibly move forward and achieve their professional goals despite challenges. Below, I have shared 8 action steps to help you strengthen your career resilience and become ready to make a move when needed.

1. Create a Work “Highlight” list of Achievements

We can easily forget all the things that we have achieved while we are busy working, so it is good to have a running list that you can refer to quickly in case of need. This list can include, but is not limited to, special projects you have done, recognition awards you have received, and training and/or certifications you have acquired while working. Your list will especially come in handy if you are negotiating a salary increase, seeking a promotion, or have an upcoming job review.

2. Volunteer for Special Projects at Work

This step has multiple benefits. Volunteering for a special project that involves individuals outside of your main work team will help you grow professionally by expanding your skills and expose you to job roles that you may not have previously known about or considered. It also is a great way to get to know your peers at work and make professional connections. Maintaining strong professional connections is important when you need personal references or to find out about ‘hidden’ job possibilities.

3. Go to Skill Development Training Workshops Regularly

Employers know that having a highly skilled workforce is key in remaining competitive in the marketplace. Many employers either provide free training courses or offer access to training opportunities that most employees overlook. Continually developing your skills shows that you are focused on professional growth and ensures that you are in a good position to be considered for higher level job roles.

4. Update your Resume - OFTEN

I recommend that you at least review and/or edit your resume once every 6 months because you may have new skills or job roles you would like to add. Also, by maintaining a current resume, you can send it to someone quickly if a new job role arises. If you remain ready, you do not waste time getting ready and possibly miss an awesome opportunity.

5. Maintain a CREATIVE Mindset

You do not have to stay in one professional ‘box’ for the rest of your life. Over time, you have most likely developed skills that can be useful in other job positions. Think about and write down other career interests you may have, then reflect on how you can apply your current skills to those interests. It is always good to know other areas that you could transition to if you find yourself needing to make a career move.

6. Talk about You and What You Can Do

People tend to shy away from the word ‘networking’, but really all it is, is making sure to include your interests and skills in conversations that you have every day with others. You never know when someone may be looking for just the thing you are good at doing or needs your knowledge on a particular topic. Keep in mind - it’s not just about who you know and what you know, but also about who knows you.

7. Think Positive

If you believe that you will be successful regardless of the circumstances, then you will be. Positive thinking helps to strengthen connections in our brains that enhance how we see the world. New opportunities show themselves when we are trained to look for them. With a positive mindset, challenges become smaller than they first appear, thus making them something you can tackle and handle.

8. Get Help from a Professional Coach

Having someone to help you remain focused on your goals and accountable for your actions is invaluable. Working with a coach can help you find solutions to career challenges quicker than on your own. They can also help you become clear about the things that are getting in the way of you making the movements you need to make.

So, let’s recap the action steps.

1. Create a Work “Highlight” list of Achievements

2. Volunteer for Special Projects

3. Go to Skill Development Training Workshops

4. Update your Resume

5. Maintain a CREATIVE Mindset

6. Talk about You and What You Can Do

7. Think Positive

8. Get Help from a Professional Coach

Yay! You have done a great thing by seeking information to help improve your life. Now it is up to you to move - one successful step at a time!

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