Changing Careers During a Pandemic - Discover Podium

Changing Careers During a Pandemic

Stacy Jackson

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

The first step in a successful career transition is to take stock of your wants and needs, and the right time to understand your motivations is now. Which of these six drivers is prompting you to contemplate a new role?
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Survival:

If you’ve been laid off or work in an industry that’s shrinking, you may need to transition to survive.
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Change:

Maybe a new profession or a different industry excites you. What do you need to do and who can help you?
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Career Progression:

You’re motivated by the idea of advancement in your chosen vocation. Ask for feedback from your peers, bosses, and direct reports. Study past performance reviews. Use this information to plan your next steps.
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Location:

Do you want to be closer to aging parents? Maybe you want to work from home or move somewhere with a lower cost of living. Would you be willing to take a job with a salary reduction to live in your ideal location?
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Compensation:

Do you know your value? How much money do you need to make to achieve or maintain your desired lifestyle?
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Quality of Life Benefits:

Beyond salary, what do you need from an employer to live your best life? Flextime, promotion opportunities, company culture?
Be honest about why you want to make this change so that you get your new career path on the right course.

Reach Out to Your Network

The middle of a pandemic may seem like a less-than-ideal time for switching careers. After all, the market is scarce and competitive. However, you don’t have to go it alone. Leverage your network to make your next career move.
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Reconnect with past colleagues

A network is only useful when you nurture it—check-in with people you’ve done business within the past. Take an active interest in what they’re doing, and let them know you’re looking for new work.
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Gather performance feedback

Talk to your connections about your performance. Ask for honest feedback that can help you assess your next steps to change careers.
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Ask for leads

If you’ve built a strong network, you will find your contacts are happy to share information regarding job opportunities.
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Be human

LinkedIn is a terrific place to start, but don’t underestimate the power of a phone conversation (or video chat). A one-on-one human connection allows you to build stronger relationships and keeps you top of mind the next time that person hears about a job that may be perfect for you.

Enhance Your Personal Brand

In a crowded job market, you need to capture the attention of potential employers. An outstanding personal brand can help you outshine your competition.Let’s examine four areas where you can dramatically improve your brand.

1. LinkedIn

In recent years, LinkedIn has become the go-to professional network for hiring managers, recruiters, and HR professionals to find potential candidates. If your LinkedIn profile is outdated or devoid of relevant information, you’re making the wrong (or no) impression.Your LinkedIn profile is your personal brand’s landing page. Think like a marketing or PR professional as you build it.
Photo by Ben Kolde on Unsplash
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Use a professional headshot.

Consider your profile picture the logo for your personal brand. What do you want it to convey about you?
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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Ask for Recommendations.

Aim for getting at least two recommendations for your LinkedIn profile.

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Be active.

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:

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Stick to one-or-two full pages that demonstrate how your experience and education have prepared you for the job you want

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Don't list more than the past 15 to 20 years of experience (ageism is real)

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Don't include any information that isn't 100% relevant to getting the job you're applying for; don't even list references

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Keep things simple when it comes to design elements so that your resume complies with a company’s application tracking system (ATS)

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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.

Resume Template

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:

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels
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Take some online courses or consider a fast-track certification program.

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Start a side hustle that helps you build new skills.

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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

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.

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