Changing careers during a global pandemic seems to be an insane idea, not to mention an incredibly risky move. It is always risky switching careers and starting over, but even more so during a global health crisis. Unemployment is high and job opportunities are scarce. According to the UK’s Office for National Statistics Vacancy Survey, there were an estimated 476,000 vacancies for March to May, 2020; 342,000 fewer than the previous quarter between December 2019 and February 2020. The unemployment rate is estimated at 3.9% from February to April 2020.
Some industries have been hit harder than others. The travel and tourism industry is barely scraping by, while the foodservice industry had to rely on take-out and delivery options. The effect on those industries of the easing of lockdown restrictions remains to be seen.
While changing careers is inevitable for some, careful consideration and evaluation should be diligently done before making the switch. Here are things to consider and work on if you are planning a career change:
People have could have many reasons for considering or needing a career change. It could be due to wanting a more challenging role, the desire for higher pay, they’re stuck in an unfulfilling job, or worse, being laid off. Unless your current situation falls under the latter, assess if your plan for a career change is urgent. If you currently hold a secure position, consider holding off on your career change plan for at least another six months.
Evaluate your reasoning
Life-changing decisions such as a career change should be approached in a logical and rational manner. Ask yourself tough questions and give honest answers. Understand the root reason for considering switching careers in the first place. One way of assessing without bias is making a list of the pros and cons. Areas to cover when writing down your list are: current employment situation, mental and psychological wellbeing, quality of work-life balance, financial status, and urgency of the career change. By focusing on these areas, you will gain a different perspective when you categorize the advantages and disadvantages of a career change mid-crisis.
Choose your new career smartly
As mentioned earlier, some industries have been hit harder than others. When choosing a new career path, thoroughly research and take into consideration the industries that are still thriving and have not been drastically affected by the pandemic in terms of employment. According to McKinsey & Company, careers in health, social work, and public administration are some of the sectors with a fairly low job risk during the pandemic.
The reality of switching to a completely different industry is that you may not end up with the position or level you expect. After all, a recruiter is not likely to give a rookie a taxing scope from the get-go. Expect to start your new career with an entry-level position.
Get comfortable with an informational interview. An informational interview allows you to get a glimpse of the job you want. It is an opportunity to gain first-hand experience and get the real-life, day-to-day scope of someone who already has the career that you want. From the challenges, the rewards, the nitty-gritty, and everything in between, engaging in an informational interview will help you make an informed decision before making a career change.
If one of the more urgent reasons for that career change is to make more money as quickly as possible, doing it during a pandemic may not be the best time.
Take account of the finances you have on-hand. Are you in a financial position where you feel secure, starting over with a new career without the need to dip into your savings? Will you be able to live comfortably once you switch careers?
As much as possible, avoid switching careers unemployed. Keep the current job that you have until you have successfully secured employment with your new career. Make sure that doing so will not interfere with your ongoing tasks at hand or deter you from doing your current job properly.
Being financially fit and healthy is incredibly important, and maybe the hardest thing to do. Make sure this is taken care of before you make that career change.
Develop and hone multiple new skills
Sharpen the skills you have on-hand and develop new ones. Take advantage of online classes or training to develop new skills and hone your existing ones. Include certifications and training undertaken on your CV. If you have decided on a new career, it’s a given that you have researched the requirements and qualifications for it. If you lack the skills, work on it. Switching to a career in healthcare? Medical assistant training is between 9-12 months to acquire certification. Get the training or qualifications required for that new career before making changes to your current employment situation.
Polish your CV and interview skills
If you have not applied for a job in a while, take the time to review your CV. While there are different formats to present your CV accurately and that will fit the job you are applying for, the content of your CV must be updated and tailored according to the new career that you will pursue. Ensure that the skills, qualifications, and experiences listed on your CV are relevant to the job you are applying for.
While your CV will get the recruiter’s attention, how you present and package yourself during the interview will make or break your career move. Depending on the profession that you are switching to, each industry has its own standards for the interview and hiring process. All the information you can possibly need to be guided is at the touch of a button. Make sure you do ask yourself the “salary” question. Keep researching resources to help you prepare for an interview and practice until you get comfortable.
Talk to a career coach
It never hurts to get a professional opinion and advice. A career coach is an expert in assessing if your current skills and chosen career match with the current job market. A career coach can guide you through your career change plans and help you spot possible challenges you may have missed and find solutions to overcome these challenges before you take that leap.
One of the precious teachings that this pandemic has taught us is a lot of introspection; to rethink our life choices and examine if we are putting value on the right things. It will be more challenging now than ever, but it is not impossible and is entirely doable. Thankfully, there are jobs and being practical is more important than ever.
There are jobs if you know where to look, are patient, and, most of all, not picky. More importantly, analyse if the timing is right before deciding to change careers and move onto a different path. Wanting a better job is not unheard of. Having a clear plan for a career change is smart. Successful career changes or transitions take time. Whatever it is, make sure to take your time and not be rash in making a decision.
Post written by Linda Reed for thejobcrowd.com