Our lives have been transformed in almost every aspect with the COVID-19 pandemic, including how we work. Many have been affected by lay-offs, tightening company budgets, pay freezes, and promotions, resulting in an opportunity pandemic within the workplace. As we consider our careers, there are factors greater than merely measuring them by pay or promotion. Building new skills, increasing our experience, and building a strong network are only a few of the additional ways we can measure our success. 

In a period of career stagnation, these opportunities still exist and you can help set yourself up for future promotion, new roles, and other opportunities. Here are six ways for career development during the COVID-19 pandemic, all which are available in a remote environment.

1. Audit Yourself

The first step to personal development is understanding where you are going. Take some time to envision where you would like to see yourself in 12-month, 24-month, 5-years. What skills are you lacking? Does your company have a role within your company on where you’d like to move? What do you want your job to be in the future?

Once you have clarity on your goals, required skills, and experience needed, this will be helpful in knowing your next move. This is not an easy exercise, if you are struggling to figure out the skills and experience required, explore resources like Indeed and LinkedIn to review role descriptions and find people in similar roles you’d like to have.

2. Share your Goals

If your manager has regular one-on-one sessions with you, take time at your next meeting to share your goals with your manager. If this is not a practice in your company, book time with your manager. Before the meeting, take the time to articulate the ‘ask’ from your manager, give them a heads up on what you plan to talk about, and what you are hoping to accomplish. This will give your manager time to prepare for the discussion and be more productive.

Its vital you arrive prepared, bring notes is needed, on what you want to discuss. Keep your expectations manageable for your company, if you are looking for career support, this doesn’t mean a promotion or a raise, it can mean investment in skills, education, or experience. Be prepared with ideas on how your manager and your company can support your goals.

Remember, stay positive. Be concise. Be clear.

If you are asking for more responsibility, discuss ways you will handle the modified duties. Communicating your goals and expectations will help your manager for when new opportunities come available.

3. Network Your Community

Building strong connections with people you work with or for is vital for your career development. Keeping positive relationships with your colleagues, inter-company managers, vendors, and customers will help when future promotions or new projects arise.

Sharing your goals with your extended network can help build bridges into your networks’ network as they may know people or projects that will help your career growth. 

One way to build new relationships inside your company is to take advantage of social gatherings, inter-departmental committees. Alternatively, research to find others with common interest both personally or professionally – and then reach out yourself. 

4. Get a Mentor

There are various types of mentors: near and far.

Near mentors are people within your network, who are in a role similar to the one you aspire for and can help you with tangibles as you navigate towards your career goals. Far mentors are industry leaders with podcasts, books, or online courses who can help you get the experience and hard skills required.

Once you have identified at least one mentor, near or far, set up time to regularly invest in your skills and future career growth.

5. Take Online  Courses

There are hundreds of online courses that are recognized by many industries. Taking regular courses, investing in your career in small pieces is one of the best ways to grow your career – and often many are low cost or offer financial support.

Here’s where you refer back to step 1, what skills you need to grow and get where you want to be from a career standpoint.

Learning new skills online can set you apart from your colleagues and set you up for a promotion or make you more attractive to future employers.

6. Grow with Small Steps

If the thought of taking an online course is overwhelming, taking smaller steps in your career growth is possible. Expanding your learning through podcasts, books, documentary, pre-recorded webinars, are also great ways to keep your learning fresh and continue to build on your skills.

If you are too busy, there are apps that will give you the condensed version of the book in under 12-minutes.

Your mission: Start to take in content that will help support your goals. Even taking in small amounts of content, making small progress on your skills will some amount to larger combined efforts.

So stay focused on your career growth, set small attainable goals that will move you forward to your next big move in your career.