Get Ahead of the Curve – How to stand out at work during times of crisis

It’s no secret. The world, as we know it, is undergoing a time of crisis. No country or continent is a stranger to change, but perhaps we’re not used to such a unified sense of confusion.

However, rather than feeling helpless or like a sense of impending doom is hanging over you, we encourage you to take this time to work on yourself, continue to flourish and endeavor to find new ways to stand out in the crowd. For many of us, our jobs are in a state of flux. Whether you were working towards a promotion before now, or you were actively hunting down that next role, here are a few things that you can start doing to keep pushing your career forward.

… Because we will come out of the other side of this – and you can come out stronger than you might have thought possible…

Networking in isolation

It sounds kind of counter-intuitive/impossible… but it really isn’t.

Just as you jump on Houseparty or Facebook to call your family, you could be sipping a virtual (or real) latte over a chat with your colleagues. You could be organizing catch-ups with your seniors, showing initiative and going out of your way to ‘see what you can do to help’. Those that reach out are remembered! Get yourself on Zoom and start networking in isolation! (Hey, no one needs to know you’re only wearing a pantsuit on your top half…)

Stay present in your industry by catching up with others in the same field. For us, that’s our Females In Food community. Together, we discuss the challenges we’re facing in our relative roles, discuss where we’re going next, and mastermind the moves we need to make to keep on growing – all whilst supporting each other in our individual journeys. 

Be a social butterfly

Sure, you can’t gossip over the water-cooler or grab an after-work cocktail with your colleagues, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have lighthearted, inspiring, or insightful conversations…

Use your social presence to boost your professional brand. On LinkedIn, reach out to people and start conversations. Keeping your network small does nothing for you – you might think that it keeps you safe or protects your professional presence, but it actually renders your profile ineffective. Don’t be afraid to comment on relevant threads, jump into debates (with an air of impartiality) and post your own thought-provoking insights.

As with networking, no one remembers the person who said nothing. Add something constructive to the conversations around you and get your name out there in a professional and targeted way. Think about what your future employer or promotion-deciding-seniors would want to see from you…

Be an initiative taker

There are so many ways in which you can take initiative in your role, especially if you’re currently working from home. Operate under the premise of doing things before they are asked of you… for example:

  • Send update emails or reports to your boss on a regular basis, before they ask for them.
  • If you’re customer-facing, do the same thing. Update customers and get in touch with them before they start asking you questions.
  • If you’re currently out of work, take the initiative within your own schedule. Work on your social profiles, spruce up your CV, take some classes or undertake industry research.
  • Don’t stop applying if you’re looking for a new position. Industries such as the food industry are still hiring – because these industries must remain stable, no matter the global or economic climate.

Within specific industries, the initiative might look different. 

  • In supply chain, that might involve preparing for a shortage of drivers or forecasting demand ahead of time.
  • In foodservice, you might want to consider the rerouting of your product offering. If people can’t enter your premises, how can you go out to them? Have you created a re-opening plan? What strategies can you use to encourage people back through the door?
  • In marketing, how can you futureproof the image of your business? What pivots or initiatives could you introduce to protect the current business’ goals? How could you console and pacify your customers?
  • In food science, stay sensitive to the short term demands of this crisis, but don’t neglect your edge of innovation. Stay current and stay curious.

Future proof yourself

If you’re finding that you have a little more time on your hands than normal, excellent! Now is the perfect time to do all those ‘better-myself’ tasks that were on your pipedream list.

Whether you’d like to take on a secondary qualification or start a project on the side, use this time to bolster yourself in your industry. Like we’ve said before, the action takers, talkers, and do-ers are the ones that are remembered. How could you make yourself indispensable when this all blows over?

Overwhelmed with it all

Now, while there are a lot of tips in this article, it’s important to avoid analysis paralysis.

This is a stressful time. You’re entitled to feeling overwhelmed – in fact, you’re entitled to a few days under the covers, pretending it’s not happening. But don’t let that become the norm – don’t let overwhelm rob you of these opportunities.

Create a plan of the things that you want to achieve and just hit one thing at a time. Lists that are as long as your arm, that never get ticked off, are just going make you feel like an instant failure. Pace yourself, prioritize, and take the breaks you need.

For more career resources, networking, and job opportunities, check out our membership community Females in Food. Our mission is simple – to advance women into senior leadership positions across every segment of the F&B industry and close the gender gap.

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