Advancing Your Career Transition During COVID-19

Five strategies to accelerate job change while sheltering in place

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Landing a new job can be challenging even in economic boom times. But in the current pandemic and unfolding recession, successful career transition might feel like a pipe dream. Furthermore, when the very thing that’s most effective in job search – networking – is hampered due to social distancing, it can leave you feeling helpless and hopeless.

Admittedly, job seekers are in for some rough times ahead. But all is not lost. The truth is, amid the embers of global disruption the seeds of opportunity are often sown. Needs are emerging and companies that meet those needs will be expanding and staffing up.

Now is a good time to begin with the end in mind, as Stephen Covey would advise, and ask yourself: What results do I want to create in my next career transition? What can I do now to set me up for success later?

Here are five strategies to help you leverage this unique time of sheltering in place, move forward productively, and identify opportunity:

1. Spend time in reflection to get clear on your bigger “why”, your vision, and goals. Crises have a way of quickly bringing priorities into sharper focus. As commitments drop off your calendar during this time of disruption, use the extra bandwidth to reflect on your goals for this career transition. Perhaps they’ve shifted. Having a long term vision that excites you can be a good way to balance a short-term scarcity mindset and stay energized throughout the process. If you need help or a non-biased sounding board, reach out to a trusted mentor or career coach for help.

2. Reshape your brand language and refresh your marketing materials. Once you’ve articulated your “why”, clarified your vision, and honed your goals, take advantage of your newfound clarity to reconsider your brand language. This includes your professional headline and summary on your resume and LinkedIn, as well as the story you tell during networking and interviews. What’s your professional identity now? How do you want the market to see you? Share your updated marketing materials with a trusted advisor or two and get some feedback.

3. Identify and research target organizations using their website, LinkedIn, glassdoor, and company research databases, such as D&B Hoovers. How does each target connect with your “why”? Which would you identify as your top five to pursue first? In which of those companies might you be able to make inroads through fellow alumni or former colleagues? Hone your target list accordingly. Having a list of prioritized company potentials provides much-needed focus to your search.

4. Reach out via email to contacts at target companies with whom you’ve developed a positive rapport, in other words, two or more rounds of interviews or significant networking conversations. Try to schedule a short (15-minute) chat, if possible. Check in on how they are adjusting to the new normal. Share a personal update, reaffirm your interest, and commit to touching base once things have settled down. You might even offer to do remote-based project work on a consulting basis while the economy is in flux and companies are slower to hire. In the case of smaller organizations, non-profits, or start-ups, consider becoming a customer or board member to strengthen the relationship.

5. Be on the lookout for emerging opportunities. It’s not all doom and gloom in the job market. Disruption creates new opportunities. Brainstorm a list of industries and companies that are likely to thrive in the new normal, such as grocers, healthcare, medical device, video chat companies, digital, gaming, and so on. What seems interesting to you in this economic reboot? Add these companies to your list of targets and begin networking accordingly. Then consider, how might you connect the dots from your background to these new players?

Taking action now and working steadily will give you a sense of progress and boost your confidence. Your increased confidence will energize you and create a virtuous cycle of productivity. Consider everything to be a work in process; there are no mistakes, only opportunities to learn. You’ll be ahead of the curve by starting now. Six months from now you’ll be glad you did.

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