Your Local Recruitment Experts for Solihull, Birmingham, Coventry and Warwickshire

Self Development in Furlough



All around the country - furloughed employees are finding innovative ways to look on the bright side of this previously unknown status If you’re reading this article, chances are you’ve been furloughed or are experiencing a notable decrease in workload since having to work from home. 

Many people are struggling to fill their time meaningfully, even when they feel inspired to do so.

Self-development is always important but it’s particularly so in this lockdown. Having a sense of purpose and structure in your day is also a proven way to maintain your mental focus. Keeping up your personal development will also mean that, when the time comes to go back to work, you won’t struggle with structure. You never know, you may even have put yourself at a healthy advantage to your peers.

Many of the people we speak are looking on the bright side of the situation and using the time to learn skills they’ve always been curious about, or upskill in areas they knew they could be stronger in. One is already anticipating that their role will become more varied and fluid when they return to work, so is learning the core skills required in some other functions. That way, they’ll be able to shift across if necessary.


One of the places we recommend starting from is doing a skills gap analysis and building a skills plan from there.

This is particularly helpful if you’re unsure which skills areas you want to develop in 3 simple steps -

1) list the skills you have as well as the ones you need for your job - or your dream job. 

2) assess these skills (perhaps ranking them, or marking them out of 4 - terrific - good - could be better - not yet achieved

3) circle the ones you’d find in improving (tip! have your job specification or job description of your aspirational role to help inspire and inform)

Voila! You've just completed your 'training needs analysis'!

If it is some time since you updated your CV then it will be a really useful exercise to write a new one. You'll find we've some fabulous resources in our Learning Zone which will help you write a CV that can truly stand out from the crowd have a peek at

If you know exactly where you want to develop, you can search for online courses to find all the resources available. You’ll find videos, articles, book chapters, how-to guides, checklists, models… whatever best suits your style of learning.

We realise it's not easy to motivate yourself and difficult - not least because we’re in the midst of a pandemic, our mental health may impact our performance, we’re working around our family or flatmates, and we may have been furloughed or made redundant.

All of these will impact our productivity and personal mojo - and it’s important that we listen to these feelings, understand them, and find a way to overcome or adjust to them.

If you feel as though professional development is a useful way to keep your mind active while you’re not working, or if your workload has decreased and you have more time in your day you’re seeking to fill, then creating a structure for your learning with some achievable goals will help you on track. 

One last thing ... when setting your goals ... we recommend using the SMART method ... Specific, Measureable, Achieveable and Time-Bound.

Specific: be precise about what skill you are going to learn and why. Vague goals mean you can allow yourself to get either too carried away with how much you want to learn, or you’ll keep putting it off because you don’t know where to start!

Measurable: When writing down your specific goal, plot out smaller milestones to hit on your way there. Almost like a staircase, focus on one aspect at a time.

Achievable: When writing your goal, avoid looking through rose-tinted glasses. Remember that if you make a goal too unachievable you’ll demotivate yourself if you don’t excel initially. For instance, instead of ‘Become a CEO’, try aiming for a promotion; looking at the job spec of the role above yours will show you what skills you need to get there. 

Don’t try and skip out steps!

Realistic: Rome wasn’t built in a day! Likewise, chances are you won’t become a master of crisis management in an afternoon. Give yourself enough time to actually complete the task, and break your goal into measurable chunks.

Time-bound: In order to keep yourself motivated, give yourself deadlines for your goal and the milestones between. Little rewards (like a takeaway, some online shopping, or an extra chocolate bar at lunch) will help to keep you on track along the way - remember to congratulate yourself for your hard work!

Whilst being furloughed use your time wisely and help prepare yourself to be the best you can for a brighter future.



Posted on Tuesday Jul 28