Insights & Ideas

Now’s the time to explore new careers and skills. Really, it is.

guy working on laptop

Let’s be real for a minute. This COVID-19 situation is mentally exhausting. Sometimes it’s hard to confront what you need to do today, much less look toward the future. However, all of this forced stay-at-home time provides a unique opportunity to focus on things you don’t usually prioritize, such as envisioning your future career path(s) and acquiring skills you’ll need to get there.Working constructively toward short- or long-term career goals during the COVID crisis has many career and mental health benefits, like:

  • Strengthening your resume/experience.
  • Making your current work seem more meaningful.
  • Energizing you with newfound interests.
  • Feeling a little more hopeful and accomplished each day.
  • Distracting you from checking the news and looking for snacks … again.
  • Getting started is easy. You don’t even need to change out of your comfy clothes.

Exploring new roles and interests

If you don’t already have a dream job in mind, there are several ways to brainstorm career ideas from the comfort of your couch, for example:

  • Mine trend reports: Each year millions of dollars are spent on researching business trends and you can view detailed trend reports about financial services or HR. These reports are goldmines for inspiration around in-demand skills and roles.
  • Create a job journal: Keep track of the tasks you do for work each day for a few weeks—pay attention to your favorite and least favorite parts of your work. Think of future roles the emphasize the parts of your job that you enjoy. Note: If you’re not working (or not doing your typical job), look through old job descriptions and think about which tasks you enjoyed or didn’t enjoy at previous jobs.
  • Phone a friend/role model/mentor: Know (or know of) somebody that has a job that interests you? Don’t be afraid to politely ask for a short informational interview to learn more about their role and what skills are required.
  • Take a career assessment quiz: Everybody likes a quiz and there are plenty of assessment tools to choose from. You can take a quiz specific to your area of expertise (e.g., accounting/finance or HR) or choose from this giant list of general assessment tools.
  • Get inspired by a book: Fortunately, books can be delivered to your device or doorstep. Try one of these popular books on career changes.

Acquiring new skills

There’s never been a better time for learning from home. Organizations are putting unprecedented amounts of educational resources online during the Coronavirus epidemic. And, many of these resources are free or low cost. You can immerse yourself in everything from professional certifications to soft skills (e.g., communicating effectively, managing a team) that employers are looking for.

  • Get a certification: The most traditional (and expensive) way to learn new skills is a professional certification—for HR there’s SHRM and HCMI and finance has lots of options. Alternatively, you could consider certifications in software, project management, or other complementary disciplines.
  • Take a digital course: There are hundreds of options for online classes. Start with LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, Masterclass, or your favorite college or university.
  • Attend a webinar or virtual event: Try, Hubspot Webinars, or your favorite professional association. (Check out these handy lists of HR and finance associations).
  • Knowledge swap with a colleague: Stave off quarantine isolation—and learn valuable skills—by collaborating with a colleague or mentor. This can be especially interesting if you work with a colleague in a different business function—for example, an HR professional working with their marketing counterpart.

Learning new things is good for your cognitive health1 and food for the soul. So, consider spending a bit of time each day—maybe the time you would have spent commuting (three cheers for no commute!)—acquiring skills and insights you can use to improve your work today and design the career you want in the future.

At Salo, we help finance, accounting, and HR professionals explore new career options every day. If you’re a finance, accounting, or HR professional, contact Salo to see if interim consulting might be right for you.


1. Learning several new things simultaneously boosts cognitive abilities