The world has certainly been turned upside down since Covid-19 hit the world stage and our NZ shores. The fall out over the next few weeks, months and years is going to be immense – way more than we can anticipate. And of course, the casualties of businesses folding, including those that are iconic in our society, with the inevitable large-scale redundancies that will follow, does not make for a pretty picture. The world as we knew it is irrevocably changed.
Those of us who work at the coal face of human services will already be aware of the human toll this is going to take – people losing their jobs, their livelihoods, their ability to make money, their house, their lifestyle, their opportunities to travel, their ability to fund the extras, their confidence….and often a loss of their identity. This significant event has thrown the entire world into complete chaos, and we are all scrambling to figure out what the new rules are.
However, this is where those of us who do work at the coal face can make a real difference. We are no longer dealing with how it worked in the past, but we need to all look for new ways to make it work in the future. That requires a rethink and reframe of where we are all at. This is the work that career professionals do.
Career professionals have had a bit of a PR issue over the years. The pervading view that career professionals only match whatever you are skilled at with where the jobs are, write CVs and help you to get jobs, and that anyone can do this, has done the profession a huge disservice. The work of the career professionals I have known and worked with over my 20+years in the industry would certainly negate this view.
Some of us may do some ‘transactional’ type work. But what career professionals have a superpower in is the ability to work with an individual to support them where they are at. When people are suffering from what life has dealt them, and to help them to see the world differently, to gain an understanding and insight into what they have to offer, to gain confidence and competence in how they can approach their new reality, to build resilience in the face of adversity, to support them to reframe their current reality and to think creatively about how they can look at new options or apply different ways of working to create a new way of working and to thrive.
The traditional view of career – that a career equals what you do for a job, is no longer valid. Career is far bigger than your job. Career covers your entire life, encompassing the many and varied experiences that you have over your lifetime. It covers the many roles that we all have in life – being a student, a parent, a child, a caregiver, a friend, a volunteer, following a hobby, being in paid work…the list goes on. Each of the many roles that we occupy over our life-time presents opportunities and experiences for us to develop skills and strengths, to add them to our kete of what we have to offer, and what we can take forward into the next part of our journey.
This is the starting point. Looking at strengths and what can be transferred from the past and current into the future. Looking at how we can rethink and reframe what was, to what will work for the future. And using a creative mindset to reinvent ourselves, to look for opportunities, to look at how we can contribute in new ways, and to look at different ways of thinking and working. The work of career professionals is to help individuals to move from yesterday, and what worked then, to tomorrow and how it will be in a changed world, different from what we have all known.
So what does career mean in the Covid-19 environment? We know it will look different from what we expected. But with that is hope, and readjusting, and a change of thinking, and a creative approach to figure out how the future will now look.
If you are supporting someone to reframe their career, or reframing your own career, we have developed some resources that may prove helpful for self-reflection and to explore possibilities.
Caroline Sandford is an Executive Director at The Career Development Company