Changing Careers During a Pandemic
Author: Mike Scaletti
There is a ton going on in the world right now. Many people are still furloughed, and others are in positions that make them uncomfortable or unhappy in this trying time. That means that many people are likely thinking about changing careers right now. Whether you've been thinking about a career change for a long time, or you're reconsidering your career path in light of everything going on, there are some definite questions you need to be asking yourself before you make a move.
Leaping into a new career should not be taken lightly, especially given all the uncertainty the pandemic has brought to the world in 2020. This might be the perfect time for you to make the leap, but it is also possible that your perspective might be skewed by all the stress that many of us are feeling these days.
Is Changing Careers REALLY What I Want Right Now?
It is vitally important that you carefully consider WHY you might want to make a career change at this particular moment in time. Are you addressing something that might be temporary, like the environment or circumstances brought on by the pandemic? That is not generally a good reason to make a career shift.
For example, if you are unhappy working from home, or not taking meetings face to face, or some other factor that might be tied to COVID-19, then your unhappiness is likely caused by the realities of the pandemic, and not by your underlying role. Consider how your job has changed recently, and whether you think it will change back eventually or if this indicates a permanent shift in the reality of this career. Take a minute to analyze how your answer to that question made you feel. Is it possible that you actually WILL be satisfied in your current career once we move past the current global health crisis?
Does My Career Bring Me Happiness?
There is a very real possibility that the pandemic has revealed or even intensified all the ways that you were already unhappy at work. Feeling undervalued or underappreciated, struggling to make a connection with your boss, not being able to work well as a team with your coworkers, all of these things can be exacerbated by working remotely. Alternatively, you might have been dissatisfied with your workload or with the way your projects are managed, and that dissatisfaction might have been focussed by recent events.
These are all entirely valid feelings, and you should certainly pay attention to them, but remember that being dissatisfied with your current job does not necessarily mean that you should change careers entirely. Perhaps you simply need to find a new team, boss, or company that offers you the things your current environment doesn't. Be honest with yourself about the root of your unhappiness.
If, however, it's not actually the environment but in fact the type of work you're doing that is making you unhappy, a bigger change might be necessary.
What Do I WANT Out of a New Career?
One of the key things to remember, when considering a career change, is that you need to focus on what you are moving TOWARDS, not what you are moving away from. Rather than focussing on leaving behind and avoiding the things that made you unhappy in your old career, try to focus on the things you think might make you happy moving forward. What are you interested in? What kind of environments do you enjoy? How much oversight or social interaction would you like? These are all things you need to think about.
For example, if your old career made you feel inconsequential, rather than focussing on those feelings, ask yourself what you would need from a new career to make you feel like you mattered, like you were making a difference.
Where Am I At, Mentally and Emotionally?
During a pandemic, even more so than at other times, it is VITALLY important that you examine your mental and emotional state, especially before making any large changes to your life. Living through a global crisis can wreak havoc on your mental health. The current global environment is unlike anything any of us have ever faced before, and it's possible that there are other things going on, besides career dissatisfaction, that you might want to address before making a life-altering decision.
Really take a look at the way you're dealing with the trauma of living through a global pandemic. Examine your coping mechanisms. Separate your thoughts and feelings about what is happening in the world from your thoughts and feelings about the world. Are you thinking clearly? Are you panicked, depressed, unhappy, or anxious, and could that be leading you to jump into this decision? If so, hit pause and take a breath. It's okay to be feeling those things, there is no shame in it, but you certainly don't want to make irrevokable decisions while not in calm and collected.
If you feel like you are in a solid state of mind and still want to make a career change, then it might, in fact, be the time to do so.
Am I Prepared for the Stress of a Career Change Right Now?
Career changes are a life-altering event. Like other life-altering events, they are stress invoking and can be tough on your mental state. You know what else is a potentially life-altering event? A global pandemic. Are you ready to deal with both at the same time?
Not only are the two events individually stressful, but they can actually exacerbate each other. The pandemic has brought a lot of hiring to a halt. Are you prepared to perhaps take longer than you thought to break into a new career? It has also moved many industries at least temporarily remote. Do you think you'll be able to become acclimated to your new career when you can only interact with your new boss and new coworkers remotely?
It is possible that the general upheaval we are all experiencing actually makes this the perfect time to upend your career, but make sure you are prepared for the fallout.
How Financially Secure Am I?
The pandemic has also brought about a recession, and all the financial insecurities that go along with one. Jumping careers in the middle of a recession is very scary, and potentially disastrous. That isn't to say that you shouldn't even consider it, but take an honest look at your finances. How much of a savings buffer do you have built up? What are you mandatory expenses on a monthly basis? If it takes you significantly longer than you expect to break into your new career, will you be able to meet your financial obligations and maintain a standard of living that you are comfortable with?
What are the Short Term and Long Term Outlooks for my Industry?
Potentially one of the best reasons to look to make a career change currently is because your industry has been hit hard by the recession. If you are in one of the hardest-hit industries, such as sales, retail, or travel, analyze how long you think it will take for your skillset to be in demand again in that industry. If you think it is going to be a very long time, it might be worth figuring out whether you can transfer that same skillset into a different industry.
If you've taken the time to answer these questions and begin to understand your motivations, desires, and capabilities, then you'll have a more clear understanding as to whether a career change right now is actually the best decision for you. It may be that the stability of your current career is actually more desirable, but you may also decide that now is the perfect time to look at a career change!
If you do decide to make that change, consider getting in touch with us here at The Job Shop. We'd love to help you take the first steps on your new career path! Send us an email with a current resume and what it is you're looking for at email@example.com.