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How to confidently change careers during a pandemic

Many of us are being forced to address our careers amid the pandemic, sometimes in a abrupt and scary way. Whilst we may not appreciate it, change can be good: it pushes us to move forward and it highlights the blocks we’ve been avoiding. If you suddenly find yourself in a career flux – you’ve […]

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Many of us are being forced to address our careers amid the pandemic, sometimes in a abrupt and scary way. Whilst we may not appreciate it, change can be good: it pushes us to move forward and it highlights the blocks we’ve been avoiding.

If you suddenly find yourself in a career flux – you’ve lost your job, been furloughed, took a pay cut or are contemplating if the job you’re doing now is right for your future, the best thing you can do is lean into the change as you decide your next move. It’s equally important to recognize your own strengths and where you may struggle in order to have more clarity in your actions. Here are the best strategies if you want to pivot and embrace change in your career.

1. Start by allowing yourself some time to grieve – losing a job can cause shock and worry but lamenting over that loss for too long won’t get you your new job. So take some a few days to regroup after the initial shock and proactively channel your energy into finding your new career.

2. Build your network – and use it. If you’re active on LI you’ve probably seen quite a few job status updates – that’s a great strategy. A significant number of jobs are never advertised and come through networking, so start making those connections right away. Be creative – it’s not just past colleagues but people you come into contact with every day – customers, vendors, family members etc. You never know where your next great job lead is going to come from.”

3. Embrace a growth mindset – As a coach, I always work with clients to develop a mindset that prioritizes evolving. This means that people can take risks and make mistakes, but take the learnings good or bad to grow and constantly improve. The objective is is not to seek perfection; the objective is to never stop growing and learning. This mindset is critical as we find ourselves in a constantly shifting world. Developing a growth mindset doesn’t happen overnight. You need to work at it and be willing to push yourself out of your comfort zone, course correct when you need to, and always be asking for and accepting feedback on your performance. This will be a game changer in all aspects of your life.

4. See the positive in the situation – yes it’s a blow to your career and your self-esteem, but it can also be an opportunity to redefine success on your terms, as well as an opportunity to stop your career going with flow and get moving in a direction that gives you more fulfillment,

5. Structure your day – create a new daily routine one with small goals for each day or each week, such as send out two speculative emails per day, connect with 10 people in your network each week. Treat your career search like a job but just like you did when you were at work, allow yourself some me time as well, don’t let the job search become a chore.

6. Perform a self and situational evaluation – Invest some time reflecting on your current situation. Doing so can help you set a strong foundation for understanding whether this is the right time to switch careers, what you want out of a career change and what you may need to do to make it happen.
Some questions that could help:
– Is a career change the right answer to your current situation?
– Is now the right time? – You may not have a choice if your industry or job has been heavily impacted and you are no longer able to find sufficient opportunities – maybe you work in tourism and can’t find similar jobs. If you are able to wait until a more stable time to change careers, you might consider whether now is the best and most opportune time for you.
– Can you weather the expected challenges? – Do you have the resources to make a successful transition?
– Is it worth the expected challenges? will it pay off given the required commitment.

7. Perform a professional audit – Taking some time to understand your qualities, qualifications and values can help focus your career transition and help narrow down your career path options. It will further help you understand how you might position yourself during the job search.

Start by asking yourself the following questions:

Which soft skills do I currently have?
Which hard skills do I currently have?
Which skills do you need to build?
What are my biggest career “wins”? We sometimes overlook our achievements as it’s just what we do – reviewing them may come easy to you or you might feel challenged by the task. Regardless, we all have some career “wins,” it just might require some reflection to identify them. Another plus of taking note of your wins is that it can help you realize what you’re good at, what you like doing and how to communicate those achievements throughout the hiring process.
What are my core values and non-negotiables? This can be a biggie – an assessment of these should provide direction for the role, company and industry you want to work in next.

8. Be cognizant of your financial situation – Cut any unnecessary expenses, look to negotiate new payment terms where you can, you may need to tap into your savings, but the goal is to avoid financial disaster as this will be another worry and distraction. On the plus side it’s a great time to go through your spending with a fine tooth comb and actually prepare a budget that will make you feel in control and take the pressure off.

9. Be flexible in career paths. The kind of work you’ve been accustomed to may not be feasible given the current economic climate and the changes some industries are undergoing. Spend time researching which companies are prospering under the new rules, which industries are hiring and consider how you could transfer your skills – the role that presents itself may not be on your Plan A list, but still consider for your Plan B or C, there maybe opportunities in which you can leverage your skills in a different capacity.

10. Interview rules have changed – Be prepared for the virtual or telephone interview. It it’s virtual make sure you dress as if you were attending the interview in person. Make sure your surroundings are well lit and tidy, if this isn’t possible use a professional background to mask your environment. All the things you’d consider in a live interview still apply – your eye contact your tone, and your mannerisms. If it’s a phone interview, find a location that’s quiet with no distractions and if their using a platform such as WhatsApp, Messenger etc. make sure you have good WiFi or sufficient data to avoid disconnection.

11. Be constantly thinking ahead – anticipate 2021: The one thing we have experienced as a result of the virus, is that certain industries have changed to adapt and that change maybe permanent and evolve further. Consumer demands have seen greater adoption of digital solutions and what we see now may look a lot different like a year from now. To be relevant, don’t only think about what’s important right now, think into the future and how things will evolve. There’s no crystal ball, it’s good practice to stay on top of trends and continually think about where things are going.

12. Ask for help if and when you need it.

Adopting a constantly evolving mindset is a must. It will help you shift, adapt and provide the ability to rise to whatever opportunities and challenges you may face in the future.

Janice Sutherland is an award winning women’s leadership expert and founder of This Woman Can an online community for professional women. She provides coaching and training specializing in helping women and organizations build leadership skills through Executive Mentorship, Leadership Training and Executive Team Facilitation for both corporate executives and entrepreneurs globally. She is a sought after keynote presenter for corporate and nonprofit environments and speaks on issues relating to leadership, women’s advancement, professional success and work/life alignment. For more details, visit www.janicesutherland.com  

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