We’re in the middle of an unprecedented upheaval in the global labor market. The COVID-19 coronavirus has caused more short-term job losses than have ever been recorded in history, and by some accounts the damage could be just beginning. Obviously there’s a lot of pain that will be endured by many people in the weeks, months, and most likely years to come.
With any major period of job loss or economic downturn, there’s a moment where everyone can take stock in what they’ve accomplished and place their career in context. While I’d like to believe a product like Careen will allow people to choose when to do that – the reality is we often have to wait for a major shock or jolt before we can really comprehend where we are and where we’re heading.
The “classic” career life-cycle involves something like:
- Go to school
- Find an interest that can get you paid
- Get better at your skills
- Ascend through your career, navigating the various pathways up, down, and around what interests you and what people value you to do
Putting your career in context involves stepping back and realizing that the process of ascending through a career is often not entirely up to you. I recall being a freelance web developer in 2007 – and business went from pretty good to nonexistent within a matter of weeks. The decisions made as a consequence of those few weeks then have rippled through the next decade of my life. So it’s not inconsequential to imagine that the context of these current circumstances may quite significantly cause your career to go rapidly in a new direction.
The most important question, and challenge, is: Can you control that direction or will the direction control you? Do you have the resources, tools, and runway to make rational thoughts and decisions? Or, are you caught by circumstances that feel outside of your control and that force you to make short-term decisions for more basic reasons – like feeding yourself and your family and providing for those you love.
Regardless of your circumstances – this will be a time of powerful change in the economy. Some industries may emerge from this stronger than ever, while some industries (like global hospitality) may take years to fully recover. Place your current career in context for your past decisions, and do your best to project your next moves in light of the situation we all find ourselves in today.