Changing Careers During a Pandemic
By Stacy Jackson | September 4, 2020
Making a career change has always been a decision tinged with a modicum of anxiety. After all, you don’t really know what the new job will be like until you’re in it. However, the opportunity to forge a new path is often exciting and brings with it financial and intangible rewards.
Now, consider making a career move during trying times—like a pandemic—and your anxiety around that decision will probably spike. Why would you leave your current job that you’re lucky to have when so many other workers have lost their livelihoods?
The unfortunate truth is that you don’t know what the future holds regarding job security with your current employer. Even if you’re not in a hard-hit industry, your company may eventually feel the impact of the financial crisis caused by the pandemic. The reality is that layoffs can happen at any time, for any reason, pandemic or not.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, you may have begun to reassess what’s important to you. Instead of staying with a company or on a career path that’s no longer fulfilling, use some of your “safer at home” time for some career planning that can lead you to your dream job.
Let’s run through a few career switch tips that can help you find your new role, even during a pandemic.
Re-evaluate Your Wants and Needs
Quality of Life Benefits:
Reach Out to Your Network
Reconnect with past colleagues
Gather performance feedback
Ask for leads
Enhance Your Personal Brand
Use a professional headshot.
Write a headline that shows where you're going, not where you've been.
Your headline is your personal brand promise.
Don’t merely default to listing your current or most recent job title there. Tell employers what to expect from you. Look at these examples. Which person would you want to interview in these scenarios?
“Fundraising Executive, ABC Nonprofit” OR “Successful fundraising professional who exceeds donation goals year over year.”
“VP of Sales, Seeking New Opportunities” OR “Driven sales leader with experience managing global sales teams generating over $XXX million per year.”
Complete the About section with a brief overview.
Keep it concise and focused on you as a professional. You want to capture someone’s interest in the first few lines. This is the place to get to the point, not wax poetic.
Use the Experience section wisely.
If you’re a seasoned veteran in your field, don’t list your high school job at Starbucks. Want a job that’s one rung up on the job ladder? Change your title (check with former employers first) or generalize your leadership aptitude.
List your skills in the Skills section and ask for endorsements.
You should also delete outdated skills or ones that don’t make sense for the role you are seeking.
Ask for Recommendations.
Aim for getting at least two recommendations for your LinkedIn profile.
You want to get the word out about who you are and what you have to offer. You have to show up and add value. Demonstrate that you have insights and opinions that will bring value to an organization.
2. Your Resume
Your resume needs to be concise, yet make an impact. As you’re creating this document, remember that it is not just a summary of your experience: It’s your “sell sheet.”
Keep the following tips in mind when it comes to creating your resume:
Stick to one-or-two full pages that demonstrate how your experience and education have prepared you for the job you want
Don't list more than the past 15 to 20 years of experience (ageism is real)
Don't include any information that isn't 100% relevant to getting the job you're applying for; don't even list references
Keep things simple when it comes to design elements so that your resume complies with a company’s application tracking system (ATS)
Create a flattened PDF format file that's clearly labeled as firstname_lastname_resume.pdf
3. Personalized Cover Letters
Take time to create personal cover letters for the jobs you apply for. Your cover letter gives you a place to share things that may be too specific for your resume and lets you explain why you’re the right choice.
4. A Personal, Yet Professional, Website or Blog
Creating your own website or blog isn’t 100% necessary for everyone seeking a new career. However, it can give you the edge over other candidates.
We’re not talking about sharing your Lord of the Rings fanfiction blog. Focus on creating your work portfolio or a blog that shares your industry or niche expertise.
5. Expand Your Skill Set or Further Your Education
During a pandemic (or any other crisis with widespread impact), a job search will take longer.
You can use this time to focus on career development. If you’re entering a new industry or looking to advance in your current field, you may need to sharpen some skills or attain new ones. Here are some options to consider:
Take some online courses or consider a fast-track certification program.
Start a side hustle that helps you build new skills.
Get involved with clubs or organizations that help you improve in areas where you may have weaknesses.
Ready to Discover Your New Career Path?
Maybe a pandemic isn’t the “perfect time” for changing careers, but there’s never a “perfect time” for most life choices. While a full-time job is nice, wouldn’t a fulfilling career be even better?
Did we leave anything out? Do you have any questions about transitioning to a new job or profession during a pandemic? We’d love to hear from you on LinkedIn or Twitter.
Stacy Jackson, co-founder of Jackson Marketing, Inc., is a content marketing professional who helps businesses and individuals optimize their online presence. She’s an editor and writer, and a regular contributor to various marketing blogs. She also co-hosts The B2B Mix Show podcast with her sister Alanna.