Fed up with being furloughed? Initially, the concept of receiving 80% of your salary but not having to work can seem alluring. You start to create a list of all the things you can finally get round to doing, which then shrinks when you remove the ones that are now restricted due to self-isolation and social distancing requirement.

For some, it may be the first time in your career you have ever take time out other than your annual holidays. But as time goes on it can become very unsettling, with a promise of a review of lockdown but no end date or what restrictions may start to be lifted the anxiety of the unknown continues to challenge our emotional status. Some days we feel motivated to take action and other days all we want to do is curl up on the sofa, stay in our PJs, eat and watch TV all day.

For individuals where their career is central to their lives, where their socialization and majority of their contact is through work it can feel as though you are losing your identity and maybe you start to question your self-worth and your confidence. Even though the rational part of your brain knows it’s not about your performance or ability to do the job, it’s more about the Company’s ability to supply you with work and or to pay you.

Firstly, these emotions are part of the rollercoaster of life in a world filled with uncertainty. Don’t beat yourself up for them, don’t try to ignore them, just let them be. However, when the world is telling you to get fit, to bake a cake, go into DIY override or landscape your garden remember it’s your life and you have the freedom to choose if you want to do this. It’s all about finding your happy place, what works for you and recognise how you’re feeling not letting someone else determine what you should and shouldn’t do. We are all unique and things are done best when we do them at a time that’s right for us. So stop comparing yourself to others as you don’t really know what is happening in their lives but only the bits they are willing to show.

So today’s blog is not here to make you feel guilty for not taking action but to say trust yourself and when you are ready just take that one small step forward towards bringing the changes you want to see for yourself in your career.

Our starting point is to help you understand what you can do as a furloughed employee and then using this information I have made suggestions on how you may like to use these activities to start to gain greater insight about what would suit you as a career move.

Volunteering. Volunteering is a great way to test out how you feel about working in a particular industry or career without having to leave your existing job. While a number of volunteering placements are temporarily on hold as they don’t comply with current guidelines, there are still a number of options available. Check out sites such as Do It which list opportunities in your local area. If you feel that you would like to work with the elderly, kids or animals etc. volunteering with these groups is a way to get a deeper understanding of what a career would be like.

If there are organisations that you have a strong affinity towards, you like their values and what they stand for, while they might not have volunteering options that comply with current restrictions still do your research so that as restrictions are lifted you are ready.

Training. The guidelines stipulate that you can participate in training as long as it’s not providing services or making money for your employer or a company linked to or associated with your employer. One of the positives to come out of lockdown is that a lot of organisations are now providing free content online. Here are a couple of organisations you may want to check out. Review the online catalogues and notice what grabs your interest and go exploring. To find your ideal career you need to start with a willingness to open your mind to try new experiences which in turn will open your eyes to careers you had never considered before or seemed out of reach.

Paid work. Yes while you are furloughed you can actually work for someone else if your contract permits it as long as this is not for a linked or associated Company. You will need to be able to return to work for the employer that has placed you on furlough if they decide to stop furloughing you, and you must be able to undertake any training they require while on furlough. Although a lot of organisations may have pulled their vacancies there are still some that are recruiting for temporary workers. Making new connections and working in different organisations and industries can be invaluable in your quest to finding a career that can work for you.

Explore your network. 70% of jobs are filled through networking. Reconnect with people you have worked with previously, particularly those you enjoyed working with. Find out what they do now, how they got there and what it’s like. Share with them what you are doing and what you are looking for so you are front of mind when and if something becomes available.

If there are organisations that you are interested in, follow the Company page and build connections with people who work there, this will start to make you aware of the working culture and employment opportunities as they begin to recruit again.

As you use LinkedIn for building your network and investigating organisations make sure it gives the reader a good insight into you and that it's serving you well. There are some great resources online to help you build your LinkedIn profile, this is one to get you started.

Consider a career coach. And lastly, there is me! Yes if you are ready to work on your career change but need someone to guide you through it then let’s talk about how I can help you do that and the different offerings I have to suit your needs and budget. Interested to know more, then just select a time that works for you from my online calendar and we will take it from there.

For government information on Furlough, I find the gov.uk site a great starting point.

If you found this useful and want to hear more from me, check out these three blogs.

  1. Planning a career change in a recession
  2. The emotional roller coaster of a career changer
  3. Midlife crisis or time to quit