5 tips for professional development in a time of crisis

The professional landscape of finance and accounting looks a lot different than it did a few months ago. Your daily routine has probably undergone some radical changes, and you may still be in the process of adapting. It’s also safe to say that these shifts are far from over, but one reliable constant is the need to invest in your professional development.

Easier said than done, right? It may sound difficult to build your career during a crisis, but here are five simple ways to focus on your professional development:

1. Re-evaluate your priorities.

Before the pandemic hit, you probably had a plan in place to advance your career. Maybe you were looking forward to networking at a conference, completing some on-site training or seeking a new role at your organization. Now you’re stuck at home and it definitely isn’t the best time to ask for a promotion.

Don’t let your change in circumstances discourage you. The whole world is in the same boat, and we’re all adjusting our expectations. Take some time to revisit your old plan and ask yourself what goals you could still reach and which ones no longer apply.

Are there skills you wish you had learned before the pandemic hit? What about new technologies? What else can you do to make yourself more competitive in our altered environment?

2. Make the most of online opportunities.

Does your organization have mandatory training requirements? What about supplemental learning opportunities? Now is the time to look into what online options it offers. Even if your company required in-person attendance before, it may introduce a virtual alternative in light of current events. If not, contact your HR department to suggest they explore the possibility.

Don’t just look inside your organization. From free webinars, podcasts and tutorials to self-study CPE courses, there are countless online learning options. Join LinkedIn communities of like-minded professionals to get specific suggestions in your interest area. Just because in-person meet-ups aren’t feasible doesn’t mean you can’t connect in other ways.

Conferences haven’t gone away, either. A few events may have been canceled due to social distancing requirements, but many are transitioning to an entirely online model. You can attend virtual sessions, take part in workshops and engage with fellow attendees and guests — often at a lower rate than in-person attendance, and without any travel costs.

3. Go the extra mile.

Trying to keep up with all the changes to our work and our lives has left many of us feeling spread thin, and we’re relying on our colleagues more than ever. The disruption to our routines also gives us a fresh perspective on our work and our workplace interactions. That means that your peers and your superiors are all paying more attention than ever to how you conduct yourself.


If you do the bare minimum to fulfill your obligations, it will be noticed — and not in a good way. But if you assist your teammates whenever and however you can, you’ll attract the right kind of attention. You may impress your boss. But even more importantly, you’ll strengthen ties with coworkers.

4. Turn your camera on (unless your meeting host says otherwise).

The easiest step you can take to improve your career prospects is to show your face in video conferences. Tempting though it may be to claim a technical difficulty rather than brushing your hair, not turning your camera on sends a negative message to fellow attendees.

Show them that you care enough to be present. You never know when someone you want to impress will join a meeting. A blank screen doesn’t help.

5. Incorporate professional development into your routine

Nobody likes it when their routine is disrupted, but the current situation has forced all of us to adapt — and there are advantages of how can COVID-19 benefit you. Even if your old routine didn’t incorporate time to work on advancing your career, your new routine should. If you’re no longer commuting, you could spend that time enhancing your skillset or networking on social media.

Only you know how much of your schedule you can allot to professional development, but don’t get so caught up in your daily grind that you fail to plan for the future. The current situation won’t last forever, and even once the current crisis passes there is no guarantee we won’t someday face another one. If you follow these tips for continuing your professional development, you’ll cultivate the strength and versatility you need to thrive no matter what comes next.

 

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