What will really make a difference to your career prospects in an overcrowded job market? Tech entrepreneur Vic Peppiatt tells writer Marina Gask that adjusting your mindset and developing the right skillset will ensure you thrive in challenging economic times
As we emerge from lockdown it’s becoming clear that a large percentage of the working world will not operate as it did before. Instead of returning to full-time office working, businesses are likely to opt for a hybrid of office presence and working from home. The good news for you is, with companies running virtual offices, there will be no limits if you’re armed with a career action plan letting you thrive in whatever sector you choose.
Vic Peppiatt, is COO of Phrasee, an AI-powered copywriting tech company where 55 per cent of the 50-strong staff are women and two thirds are under 35 and she’s optimistic about future career opportunities for woman. And she should know. Peppiatt, 41, knows all about resilience and survival after careers in advertising, the music industry and heading up a design agency. ‘It’s an exciting time for young people with ambition, because if you have the right skills, attitude and work ethic,’ Peppiatt says. ‘It doesn’t matter where you’re based – you can work for anyone, anywhere right now.’
Peppiatt’s five key points to kickstarting your career action plan
1. Focus on what’s in your control
You can’t change what’s happening in the world around us, so work on things you can control – like your thoughts. Don’t over-analyse what’s happened in the past or worry about the future, but be present each day and control your thoughts and actions for today. ‘Question any negative thoughts and stop them in their tracks – there’s no point spinning out over scenarios and ‘what ifs’ if there’s nothing for you to action,’ says Peppiatt. ‘What can you do today with your career action plan that will get you one step closer to where you want to be? Even if it’s only one small step, do it.’
2. Build resilience
See everything as an opportunity to learn. ‘You need to be constantly thinking about progress rather than dwelling on setbacks, by refocusing and thinking ahead. So if you get a knock-back or make a bad decision, think about why, then change tack and push on forward.’ If you’ve been furloughed and your industry or sector is suffering, or you just can’t seem to get a break – don’t punish yourself. ‘It’s out of your control and doesn’t make you a bad person or rubbish at your job. You are still you – with a unique set of skills that can be applied elsewhere,’ says Vic. ‘Stay strong and bounce back with more grit and determination than before.’
3. Stay positive and stop comparing
It’s too easy to look at social media and feel everyone else is nailing it. They aren’t, but when we’re feeling bleak we all have a tendency to ‘compare and despair’ over our apparent lack of success with our career action plan and happiness in comparison with others. Naturally, you will always compare your lowest qualities to other people’s best ones. ‘Instead compare yourself with yesterday and be a better you,’ says Victoria. ‘One of my favourite quotes is: staying positive doesn’t mean you have to be happy all the time. It means that even on hard days you know that there are better ones coming.’ And to keep you in the right mindset for a successful career action plan, surround yourself with people who inspire and motivate you.
4. Stand out softly
In a virtual world softer skills are a vital part of your career action plan and will be key to being a good team player. So think about how you can demonstrate the following skills during job interviews, with actual examples:
* Attitude – be positive and optimistic. This is vital for team morale and therefore highly valued.
* An ability to be pro-active and show initiative. When WFH you’ll need to be trusted to get on with the job.
* Grit, determination and good at problem solving. Things are changing so quickly, you need to be able to think quickly, change tack and find/suggest other solutions.
* A high level of emotional intelligence. When working remotely, being self-aware and empathetic are key for team and external relationships, as well as for team building.
5. Engage with your networks
Who do you know who can help and advise you with your career action plan? Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Keep in regular contact with your current network and reconnect with old work colleagues and even family friends. It’s a cliche but sometimes it’s just about being in the right place at the right time. So build your network by joining industry specific groups and using social media, actually engaging and interacting with posts. Use LinkedIn and ask for introductions. If you feel you need direct advice and support from someone in your industry find yourself a mentor; you may find that someone a few rungs above you will be flattered if you ask for their guidance.