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The Strategies Working Parents Need NOW to Build a Covid-Proof

Take a deep breath because this is about to get REAL uncomfortable — and I don’t mean that brain tickler of a Covid test (though that as well). No, I mean the return to school, or virtual school, or creation of in-home pods — whatever you and your family are doing this fall, this is a god-awful situation. Add in working an actual job on top of it and you may feel that the “how far does it go up there?” nose swab test on repeat would be a better experience.

I get it — and so does every major news outlet out there. Two favorites that touch on key topics include that New York Times piece shared around the world about how you can have kids or a job during Covid-19 but not both, while CNN covered how families are scrambling to find alternatives to school as districts roll out virtual plans for the fall. Based on my social media feeds, Facebook groups, article-reading, and — yes — actual conversations with friends and other parents, there are *quickly calculates* precisely zero good options for the start of school this fall.

While not a rule across the board, we all know that many of the additional needs connected to schooling will fall to one parent and if that parent is a working one, the effects could be severely detrimental to that individual’s career.

If we already see this coming, what do we do? Make more schedules in hopes that we can all work / learn (but that we know deep down inside our kids will not follow said schedules)? Find more apps so they can be occupied, thereby actually increasing our ability to work while simultaneously stressing us out that they are getting too much screen time? Cough up the money for a sitter so they can oversee virtual school and you can work? Quaranteam with another family or two or create a pod for schooling?

The answer may be E, all of the above and that’s okay — do what you need to get through this year!

For working (and furloughed/laid off) parents, though, I want to go beyond that and not just serve up some platitudes that everything will be okay. You working parents deserve so much more than that and I am here to give you actual strategies for leaning into this year while knowing that you can create a bulletproof, er, Covid-proof career even as we face an increasingly nutty fall 2020 – and beyond.

Who am I to say any of this? For what it is worth, I am a 3X Certified Master Resume Writer and career strategist who works with clients globally on moving from career crisis to a place of career resiliency. I also have a rising first grader and infant so, yes, I know something about being a working parent trying to balance it all during this incredibly difficult time.

These are in no particular order and I suggest finding which one or ones work best for you at any given moment. Additionally, keep in mind not only that this, too, shall pass but that we can all use some preparedness now to achieve a more resilient career later.

1) Show Your Value — Whatever your level or sector, track what you are doing, especially in response to Covid-19, that is helping your company in any way. What are you working on, to what end, what steps are you taking as part of that work, and what has the outcome been / expected to be? Track this info! You will want to note it in your resume, LinkedIn profile, and for future conversations with your current boss or a potential one.

If you are not working at the moment but have an idea about what you want to be doing once the pandemic passes (and it will!), look for courses on Coursera, Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, or even eCornell that align with your next-step career goals. Not only will these look great on your updated resume and LinkedIn profile, but they will also show how proactive you have been during this time.

2) Keep on Networking ­­­– Again, whatever your level or sector, continue connecting with people in your space (or desired space) to stay on their radars. If you feel like I am adding a request to your already overloaded schedule, think again — the goal here is to be efficient and effective. If done well, this bi-weekly task will take less time than it took for you to locate your kid’s mask again.

Here’s what you do — think through 3–5 people already in your professional orbit and/or people with whom you wish to re-connect. Then, either through LinkedIn (connect with them there if you have not already done so), or via email / text (depending on how close with that person you are), check in on them. As this is the time of Covid, please do genuinely ask each person how they and their family are doing. Then, provide a 1–2 sentence update on you as well as what is happening in your career or what you are planning for at this time. Here are two samples; the first is for someone currently working and the other is for someone not working at this time.

Hey Mike,

I hope you are doing well — how is your family handling this ongoing challenging year? All is well here — we are getting by and preparing for virtual school. Professionally, I am taking on a bit more work, handling additional project management and supply chain needs; this has been interesting, especially in light of having more work to do in less time but I am enjoying the challenge. Let’s catch up soon — I would like to hear what’s going on with you as we continue to navigate Covid.

Hi Amanda,

How are you and the kids doing? What is the plan for school this year? We are looking at a hybrid option and it should be interesting! I have been furloughed since May and while we do not know when that will end, I am using the extra time to take digital marketing courses through eCornell and really enjoyed a Coursera course on social media for crisis management. My goal is to continue expanding my skill set and am also discreetly looking for roles (just in case). Let’s catch up soon — I would be interested to hear the latest on your end.

Want to use either of these as a basis for your own notes? Go for it! Like I said, being efficient and effective is key to productivity this year. Is there more networking to be done than just this bi-weekly connecting or re-connecting with people? Absolutely but I am going easy on you — we all have enough to do.

3) Be Agile & Embrace the Pivot ­– As with the others, this next point will be applicable whether you are working or not but the approach is different. In general, I am asking you to shift your perspective and see your productivity in a different light. This, along with handling any crisis in life, is about perspective and noting the wins when possible.

If you are working and especially if you are being asked to take on more or even different work than pre-Covid, recognize that despite it all, you are not just working, you are expanding your skill set and during a global pandemic. You are, in short, a total badass.

Again, this is all about perspective as you have the option of seeing the negative (taking on extra work you did not ask for and have less time to do) or the positive (being thankful for not just a job but the chance to expand your skill set). Those additional proficiencies and the tracked wins you can speak of later? They are going to be music to a hiring manager’s ears soon enough — you continued to be an integral team member during a crisis situation and despite it all, you grew during a tough time.

If you are not working at this time, I suggest showing your agility and pivot in two ways. The first should sound familiar as I suggested it earlier in this article: take some online courses in your current or desired area.

The other? This is a similar approach to how we position clients who have been out of the workforce for a period of time: by demonstrating and speaking to the kinds of work they successfully did do during that time, even if it was unpaid.

For example, did you put together and oversee a quaranteam to ensure a group of kids were able to continue learning? Handling that kind of logistical nightmare is also demonstrative of a logistical win. Did you organize a fundraiser for a business affected by Covid? Then you were likely cultivating some project management, budgeting, and social media skills. There are a myriad of options here so think through what you have done and, more specifically, what would not have happened without you. Note that this kind of work is about leveraging transferable skills.

4) Be Prepared! If you are showing your value in some way, networking, and embracing the pivot in your professional life, just what do you DO with that? Simple: make sure your resume/cover letter and LinkedIn profile are updated and focused on your record of achievements.

Is it worth outsourcing that kind of work? I am 3X Certified Master Resume Writer telling you…not necessarily (we are in a recession, after all). If you do want to invest in partnering with a team, I fully support that and encourage you to work with someone who is taking the time to get to know you and can craft not just the professional documents but provide strategies for what to do moving forward. Yes, my team and I do that but I urge you to find a team you click with — check here to find highly certified resume writers through the National Resume Writers Association.

If you want to craft those documents yourself, I suggest checking out the wonderful resources put out by industry giants Wendy Enelow and Louise Kursmark.

Here’s the thing – not only is Covid-19 NOT going away anytime soon (le sigh) but this has not been the only crisis to hit our professional lives (and economy), nor will it be the last.

However, rather than hide out waiting for the next major crisis, you, your family, and your career will be far better off if you prepare now and continue to leverage the strategies outlined above. They are designed with you in mind and your need for career resilience.

Parents, whether you are working or not at the moment, this is hard and I see you. Let’s buckle down for the next phase of Covid Craziness and work towards building not just resilient kids but also careers. I am here if you need me — reach out anytime.

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