Professional Development Tips During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Professional Development

Professional Development Tips During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Employers have announced furloughs/layoffs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some tips that can increase your marketability and help you land your next job.

Across the nation, employers have announced furloughs and layoffs. Below I will detail several professional development tips during the COVID-19 pandemic that you should consider if you are in the search for a new job.

It is likely you’ll be prompted to reinvent yourself at some point, through no fault of your own. 

The reality is that even before the pandemic, lifetime employment with any company rarely exists. Every company has its peaks and periods of decline, and this cycle seems to be repeating at a faster rate.  Or possibly your company gets a new top executive and this person wants to replace the current team with their own people that they know and trust. Sometimes the turnover goes pretty deep.

I joined a fast-growing retail company, Tuesday Morning, Inc. in the early 1990’s as part of an entire department renewal.  This company had promised the old department personnel a bright future with hefty pay raises and increased responsibility. 

They were all terminated as part of the department renewal.  In order to qualify for severance, each person was required to train the new personnel.  Imagine how these employees felt after investing years of loyal service. 

Our new team made the transition and continued to grow the company for 11 years until a new CEO arrived and wanted an entire department renewal for our group as well as many other departments. 

Sound familiar?  This cycle of renewal had happened on our watch and gave us a firsthand perspective on what our predecessors had experienced.  Since the department/company renewal was outside of our control, we all did our best to embrace the uncertain future.

As it turned out, we all found better jobs with an increase in salary and the opportunity to share the knowledge and experience we gained from working for Tuesday Morning, Inc. 

Lesson learned:  Change is hard, but it is inevitable

Has your department been downsized or are you recently furloughed?  

Here are a few professional development tips during the COVID-19 pandemic that you should consider if you are in the search for a new job. These will improve yourself and your marketability.

Contract Work

Consider contract work as a way to generate income.  Before you depart your current place of employment, let your immediate employer know that you are available for contract work.  Next, post that same update on your LinkedIn page. 

When companies reduce staff, they cut fat and sometimes muscle and occasionally even bone. As a result, they often need to bring back terminated employees as contractors.

So, if are caught up in a reduction in force, never burn bridges and let your employer know that you are available for contract work.


Reconnect with other professionals by attending monthly meetings held by professional groups.  Most of these meetings are happening via Zoom. Often the group organizer will prompt you to type your LinkedIn URL into the chat box.

This prompts others at the virtual meeting to connect with you. This is a simple and active way to start making new connections, explaining your expertise and interest in contract or full employment. 

Technical Skills

If you are a casual user of Excel, study to become a power user who is proficient with Pivot Tables, VLOOKUP, graphs, if/then statements and all the good stuff that go with each. 

If you occasionally use Word, study to become a power user who is proficient with tables, formatting, pulling data from Excel spreadsheets, mail merge, etc.

There are unlimited resources out there online for there to use to boost your technical skills. The best part is that most of these are free. Expanding your technical prowess is one of the great professional development tips during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Further Your Education

Consider investing in education that reinforces your soft skills such as Emotional Intelligence.  Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist helped popularize emotional intelligence. 

The four sets of skills within emotional intelligence are: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.  Why is this important? 

There is a demand for leaders who can manage stress, creatively solve problems and collaborate with others.

By improving yourself while the economy recovers, you will be moving in a positive direction because you are retooling yourself for the next job opportunity.  Learning never stops, even in a pandemic or economic downturn.

Professional Development Tips During the COVID-19 Pandemic – Summary

As adults, we move through life finding that at times our personal, professional or financial life does not always unfold as planned, and this is a big deal.  There will be many small and large ups and downs in life, and your reaction to these changes will determine the outcome. 

Life constantly throws curveballs. Expect them and be flexible and adaptable.  Stay centered and don’t make changes impulsively.

“They say everything happens for a reason. I don’t know if that’s true, but I do know everything happens, and it’s up to you to maximize the reality of your situation.”

Ken Jeong, Stand-up comedian, actor and former physician

I hope that this article detailing professional development tips during the COVID-19 pandemic were helpful. For more professional development articles, check out this section of The Daily CPA.

Alan L. Oppenheimer, CPA, MBA has worked for both large and medium size companies and experienced a variety of management styles and business situations over his 40+ years of professional tenure. 

Alan has also consulted for several companies in situations such as mergers and acquisitions, bankruptcy, bank loans, forecasting, and year-end audit preparation.  

For more insight and direction for productively handling issues that are encountered in the workplace, learn more thru his quick read, Workplace Secrets Revealed (Passing the Baton to the Next Generation).

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