We are now for some people in a second or even third period of layoffs. Many complain they didn’t maximise their time in the first series and want to do better this time around. So how can you make the most of furloughs in the next round to manage your career in times of uncertainty?
A furloughs is a temporary leave of absence or layoff, historically associated with the military or missionaries. I had only ever heard the word routinely used by Americans, but now it is part of every day vocabulary in most geographies during lock down. Furloughs usually result in reduced income which is supplemented by governmental aid until the employee is needed again in the organisation.
For many, coping with furlough is difficult, particularly parents who find themselves juggling home schooling and other domestic and family needs. There are others however, especially those without children, who are active and healthy, where they basically find themselves on another period of extended leave. It’s important to make the most of this period because the chance to be so “time rich” many not present itself for a while.
6 ways to make the most of furloughs
1. Prepare strategically
- Check out your statutory rights
Find out what benefits and state support you are entitled to and make sure you have completed all the necessary paperwork. We are beginning to hear stories of businesses abusing this financial aid. This abuse of the system includes forcing employees to continue working on a part-time or ad hoc basis for the company, despite declaring them as furloughed. Other cases include those where employees who were not even told that their employer was claiming reimbursement of their wages and were let go.
- Budget carefully
Being on furlough doesn’t give you employment protection and you can still be made redundant. It’s therefore important to monitor your expenses carefully and adjust your budget. Most people say that by physically not going to work they have reduced their expenses considerably. So take a “hope for the best and prepare for the worst” approach now by being strategic. Many young people with no kids have quite frequently (where they can) gone back to the parental home.
2. Work on Your Personal Brand
Most career coaches would suggest you work on your personal brand personal and make sure you have your basic career tools up to date. It can be a good moment to do some inner reflection work, especially if you have worked in a sector which has been hard hit. Make sure your CV and LinkedIn profile are up to date as a bare minimum. Your resume should be ready to send out at a moment’s notice.
This is a perfect opportunity to adapt the Ikigai method and ask yourself these 4 key questions:
- Knowing what you love (your passion) — Feeling passionate about your life and work.
- Pursuing what you are good at (your vocation) — Fully utilizing your talents.
- Engaging in what will pay you (your profession) — Knowing what others are willing to pay you to do.
- Understanding what the world (market) needs (your mission) — Understanding what others need.
3. Research other opportunities
If you work in a heavily impacted sector such as entertainment, hospitality, events or travel, start to systematically research other sectors. You may find that there will be opportunities in fields you hadn’t even considered before. Now you have time to pull together all the data you need to make an informed decision.
4. Extend your skill set
For this group there is actually no excuse for not acquiring new skills which has never been more affordable or easier, as many qualifications shift to online offerings. Search on platforms such as LinkedIn to see the type of opportunities available. Make sure you check out the credentials of the provider carefully, as we have seen an uptick of many so called “experts” as a result of this crisis. Their expertise is pretty dodgy.
If you find qualifications or continuous learning possibilities that may support a career pivot investigate seriously. This is your moment – carpe diem! Continuous learning can no longer be a hobby.
And clearly do something for the sheer joy of it. I have heard reports of people taking cookery D.I.Y. and photography courses.
5. Network, network and network
In the current climate you have the time to increase your network. Do it. Make sure your networking moves are in line with your career goals where you can. But you can also just reach out to new people to expand your horizons for the sheer pleasure of it. Online networking is a great boon in these times to make useful contacts. Arrange virtual coffees or do what I have started doing which is “netwalking. ” This is social and socially distanced, outside and healthy.
6. Tap into your existing skills
Let’s not forget that we are defined exclusively by our jobs. We all have different skills that can be used to either generate revenue or save money. They can also be adapted to current market needs.
Mario wrote, illustrated and self-published a children’s book which generated interest in his network and he is now writing a second. Gemma and Barry remodelled their house with free online tuition from You-Tube. Matthieu a laid-off builder, set up a Virtual Assistant’s business specifically for the construction industry. His inside knowledge is putting him ahead of the game in relation to existing generalist vendors.
Many have skills can be shifted online to offer remote working services. Just take care that any revenue generation doesn’t impact your statutory rights.
The final factor is to take into account, you will be asked how you spent lock down or coped with the pandemic in any upcoming interviews. Make sure you are prepared.
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