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Talent Talk: Embrace Risk to Advance Your Career in the COVID-19 Era

Risk vs reward
Now is the time to be open-minded to change and to not miss a positive career move because of this virus. With chaos comes opportunity.

I am going to tell you something you might not have heard during the COVID-19 pandemic — now is a great time to take a little risk.

Something COVID-19 has us all really thinking about is the concept of risk vs. reward. It is a concept as old as time. Our distant ancestors might have asked themselves, “Should we go out and hunt for food, which we need to live, knowing we might be eaten ourselves?”

I heard a debate on the news the other day about whether or not to open local schools in the fall. I am sure that debate is happening in thousands of school districts across the country. One mother said that opening schools would be exposing children to risk and was against it.

How does this concept of risk-reward translate to your career? Ask any successful person if they ever took a career risk and they will tell you, "Yes." Not all risks are created equal — think about the reward side of that equation. Many companies are and will be changing in a lot of ways — some for the better, some for the worse. Now is the time to be open-minded to change and to not miss out on a positive career move because of this virus. With chaos comes opportunity.

If you want to have your best career, you must put on the table the idea of switching jobs, moving to a new location, or going back to school. Within your own company, consider volunteering to be part of a new project team. Look for what is new, what is growing, what excites you.

Mark Zuckerberg once told a group of young entrepreneurs at Y Combinator’s Startup School in Palo Alto that it is risky not to take chances. “In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks,” he said. Need a little proof? Talk to someone who stayed till the bitter end at Enron, Sears, Kodak, or Circuit City.

Image: Gustavofrazao/Adobe Stock

About the author

Paul Sturgeon is CEO of KLA Industries, a national search firm specializing in plastics, packaging, and polymer technology. If you have a topic you would like to see discussed, a company that is growing, or other ideas for this blog, e-mail Sturgeon at [email protected].

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