Pandemic Panaceas

How to navigate job uncertainty, establish work-from-home boundaries and embrace virtual exams


Voices | CAREER Q&A



By Lindsay Scott

I’m worried about how the pandemic could impact my current project—and even my role. What should I do?

You need to call on your internal and external networks now for support and direction. With so much up in the air, it’s natural to feel helpless and not in control. Mentors and other professional contacts can help you start to plan the next steps without fear clouding your judgment.

First, assess your current role. Even amid uncertainty, your organization will need projects and project managers. Talking to senior-level colleagues—sponsors and portfolio managers—will help you understand what changes might be coming. If new projects or strategies are on the horizon, get a sense of how your skills and experience align with a new resource model and talk to your manager about what role you might have in projects coming down the line.

Even if you prefer to stay with your organization, know that it’s a port in a storm. Play it safe: Refresh your resume, update your LinkedIn profile and reconnect with previous colleagues so that you’re ready to shift as needed.

If it’s time to move on, prepare to dive into a hidden job market, where many roles are never advertised. Again, this is where your external network can prove invaluable, by tipping you off to opportunities that otherwise might not land on your radar. Talk to as many connections in your network as you can to get an objective—and healthy—perspective.

Work-from-home will continue at my job until at least early 2021. How can I deal with video meetings and manage work-life boundaries?

Take some comfort in the fact that you’re not alone: People inside and outside of your organization are dealing with these challenges, too. Don’t hesitate to suggest changes. Can teams schedule more time between video calls? Can they reassess who needs to attend, inviting only those who take action from them? I’ve seen many brilliant examples on how to make video calls more effective and leave participants happier and less stressed. Don’t be afraid to seek them out and try different approaches in the future.

As for long hours cutting into your home life, it’s all too easy to devote the time we might have spent commuting to knocking out extra work tasks instead. But establishing clear boundaries is imperative to performing at your peak. (Remember, it’s working from home, not living at work.) Try delineating the work day by taking a walk around the block before you log on, keeping your work computer in a designated spot and making it clear to colleagues that they’ll get the swiftest response to any requests during typical work hours. Fortunately, the pandemic has forced many organizations to renew focus on the mental well-being of their employees. But self-care—and self-discipline—are just as important.

I’d like to take the PMI-Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)® exam online, but it’s new to me. What do I need to know?

Virtual work and learning have become part of the norm for project professionals these days. So it’s highly likely you already have the necessary equipment for taking an online-proctored exam: a computer with a camera, a quiet space and a reliable internet connection.

It might feel strange at first, but there’s no need to panic. You’re able to set up the system well in advance of your exam. You’ll need to be able to show the proctor the space you’re in (via the camera). If any technical problems arise, your proctor is there to help resolve them.

Trust me: Joining the converts to online exams is easy. Once you try it, you’ll wonder why you ever made the trip to a test center. PM

Pro Tip: Get the Last Word

Want to leave a lasting impression at the end of a job interview? Make sure you have a great project-focused question lined up to punctuate the conversation. Even a passing mention of “if you have any questions …” from the interviewer as you’re being shown the door is an opportunity to shine. So choose a question that— once answered— you’ll be able to tie back to a project experience that reinforces why you’re best suited for the role.

Have a career question for Lind-say Scott? Email [email protected].

img Lindsay Scott is the director of program and project management recruitment at Arras People in London, England.



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