Whether it’s exploring career options, knowing what questions will come up in an interview or wondering if you’ll be offered the job, career journeys can be full of twists and turns and with that, comes a big dose of uncertainty. Uncertainty is a part of everyday life but we know that COVID-19 is adding to the mix for many of us at the moment.
Managing the unknowns is a natural part of any career journey and it is still possible to do this now, even in these more challenging times. We wanted to take a moment to talk about uncertainty when it comes to careers and offer tips on how to handle it.
Read on for our take on what you can do right now.
- Check in with yourself
This might sound fairly obvious to some but it can be a useful first step if you are worrying about what you can do. Acknowledge your concerns and what is important to you right now. Consider how you are managing daily life and studies – for some exams need to take a front seat and that’s ok. It’s important to feel ready to start thinking about career planning, rather than rushing into it. If you meet with an LSE Careers Consultant, we will work with you to explore if the building blocks are in place and how you can move forward.
- Take the pressure off
You may have arrived at LSE with a specific plan for after your studies, or perhaps one emerged during your time here. Plans can be helpful and serve a really important purpose to help you get from A to B but try not to hold yourself too closely to a set plan. Plans often change and it’s okay to deviate from your original idea. Being able to be flexible and respond to the labour market demands will stand you in good stead moving forward. Most importantly, if your original plan shifts a bit now it doesn’t mean it’s gone for good by any means. Consider some alternatives and see them as a stepping-stone. Think of a tube map, and how many routes there are to get from one side of London to the other!
- Your sphere of influence
List elements in your career journey (or life more widely) that you can control, those you can influence and finally, those you can’t control. For example, things you could control could include, working on your CV, dedicating a certain amount of time a day/week/month to your job search, proactively reaching out to contacts via LinkedIn. Things you can influence might include, your likelihood of learning about new unadvertised roles via building your networks, or improving your chances of securing a job offer by preparing well for an interview. Finally, it’s important to also acknowledge what you can’t control, for example the graduate labour market as a whole, or whether your original target company is hiring.
- Focus on your areas of control and influence
Once you have your different zones mapped out, hone in on each individual element and break these down into manageable goals. Breaking these down into short term and long goals can be useful too. This could range from the next few days or weeks all the way through to months and years, if you’re someone who likes to look ahead!
Whilst focusing on where you can have impact, be mindful of the amount of time you’re dedicating to the process and make sure you’re balancing this with other aspects of your life too, be that studies, dissertation or leisure time too. Just because these are things you can control, it doesn’t mean they should become all consuming. Remember, quality rather and quantity is the best approach whether its writing applications or building your network.
- Accept and manage what is out of your control
Name and accept what is out of your control and think about the ways you engage with these aspects. For example, if you find yourself reading lots of articles about the current graduate labour market, consider to what extent this is helping your job search. Media is a great source of information but do make sure you’re looking at a wide range of sources and be aware of generalisations. Do you need to read these updates daily? Could you reduce your intake of the news here? Even though the landscape is changing, we do know that organisations and companies are still hiring and the situation will continue to evolve.
- Draw from the past and look ahead
Sometimes, to help steer your way through a current challenge, it can be helpful to reflect on challenges you’ve handled in the past. For example, how you rose to the challenge when you moved to London to study, received unexpected news or other life changes caught you off guard, perhaps when you had a rejection from a previous job application…. Think about what helped you navigate those situations. Tapping into our experiences and inner strength, gives us the confidence to meet new challenges and this time is no different. Of course, there might also be things you would do differently and this too can be a great way to adapt.
As well as looking back, looking ahead is important too. Visualise yourself five years from now and imagine yourself looking back on this period, or your first post-LSE job. Creating some mental distance between the present creates a different perspective. It can help you think more broadly and establish what is important to you.
- Use the support systems around you
The community around you can be a valuable support. Whether it’s LSE Careers, the LSE Student Wellbeing Service or your friends and family, connecting with others can help you realise you are not alone in having worries, see a different perspective and allow you to identify next steps. You can make a one-to-one appointment with a Careers Consultant via LSE CareerHub to discuss anything related to careers or if you’d like to chat to someone about how you’re feeling more generally there is lots of support on offer from LSE Student Counselling service or LSE peer mentors too.