Measures to control and contain the spread of coronavirus have ground economies across the world almost to a halt. It’s likely to be a long time before the situation recovers.

Many students and newly qualified accountants have been left reeling as they suddenly face job uncertainty, thwarted promotion prospects and a lack of opportunity for career development. If this is the first time you’ve worked in a tough economic climate, you might be struggling to find your feet.

These tips can help you deal with the disappointment and frustration of finding your career is stuck on freeze frame.

Consider the long term

The timescales on your career plan may need adjusting. Like a business, you need to be agile and willing to change your strategy to fit the current environment. Economic cycles take time, but history demonstrates that they all move on and change.

Zig and zag

Your original plan may have been to be promoted straight from role A to role B. Be open to the fact that there could be some extra steps to take in order to reach your final destination. By being flexible, there will be more opportunities available to you, and you may discover that your goals change along the journey.

Learn and develop

Of course, keep honing your technical skills, but also consider what skills and experience will set you apart from your peers when opportunities do emerge. You could tutor or mentor new ACA students or learn practical skills to demonstrate your aptitude for management. Let people know you’re ready to progress.

Build your experience

There might not be an opportunity right now in your target team or field, but you can still grow your expertise. Offer to help out, find a mentor field or take a day to shadow the team as they work. You’ll gain tangible experience, and the team will already know you well when it’s time to recruit.

Build your personal brand

In a competitive job market, many roles never make it to the job boards. Learn how you can build your own ‘personal brand’ to promote your skills and be at the top of the list for those hidden roles. You can start a blog, build a new professional network based on your key interests or contribute expert opinion to discussions and forums on Linkedin. CABA offer a range of free online courses to support your career development. 

Invest in yourself

The measures during the pandemic forced many people to slow down and re-evaluate how they were spending time and what’s important to them. Maybe this is the moment to reset your life balance in a more permanent way. Make time to connect with family and friends. Develop your hobbies and interests, and enrich your personal life.

Talk it over

You don’t have to find all the answers by yourself. Talk over your ambitions and objectives as well as your frustrations and disappointments with a colleague, manager or mentor. They may offer a fresh perspective or have helpful experience they can share. Your friends and family can offer a balanced viewpoint that includes your personal life and goals too. Contact CABA to find out more about our free coaching. 

Written by: Kelvin Olusanya, Trainee Chartered Accountant at Moore Kingston Smith.

CABA provides lifelong support to past and present ICAEW members, ACA students, ICAEW staff, and their close family members

If you’re worried about the impact of the pandemic on you and your family, if you need someone to talk to, or individual career development advice find out how CABA can support you.