How to Overcome the Personal Growth Pressures of the Pandemic

If you’ve scrolled through LinkedIn recently, you might have come across an article about the pandemic sabbatical. The article was a plead to HR professionals to stop asking candidates how they used their “downtime” during the pandemic for personal growth. PSA: the pandemic was not a sabbatical.

I don’t know about you, but when the pandemic turned our lives upside down in March 2020, life became all about survival. Getting to Costco early enough to buy toilet paper, remembering to log in to my daughter’s Google Meet classroom every day at 11 a.m., and wondering if my husband would be the next one to lose his job after office closures.

To say the pandemic was a difficult time for most of us is an understatement. While, sure, maybe we didn’t have the commute or Saturday night plans like we usually would have, we also didn’t have the certainty of job security, school schedules, or stocked grocery store shelves. Life as we knew it flew out the window, so why would anyone expect us to have taken the time of mourning to take an online class about digital marketing?

The reality is, the pandemic sabbatical question will probably come up for at least the next few years. If it’s one of the questions you’re asked during a job interview, there’s one way to approach the question: with vulnerability.

Vulnerability is often seen as a weakness. Some might see it as too sensitive, fragile, or delicate, but I don’t. I think vulnerability is authenticity. It makes you a real human being. It will differentiate you from other candidates, because while others will be looking for the “perfect” answer to the unrealistic question, you will prove that you’re human, and despite the challenges of the pandemic, made it through one of the hardest years in our recent history.

Don’t be ashamed to speak up for what you believe in. If you want to prove your leadership skills, demonstrate the type of leader you are. By being vulnerable, you won’t just show them how honest you are, you’ll also establish a healthy dynamic.