How To Successfully Pull A Dramatic Career Switch During COVID-19


Many workers have moved in completely new directions when looking for jobs after the coronavirus pandemic changed their lives and careers.

According to a Harris survey of more than 1,970 Americans conducted in October, 63% of workers who lost their jobs due to COVID-19 have switched industries. The main reasons for switching careers have been firing or fear of being laid off, needing more money, and feeling that there is no room for growth in their field.

If these reasons resonate with you, it’s never too late to start a new career – but landing on the other side of the transition can be easier with some preparation and research.

Here’s what you can do now as you prepare to take the plunge:

1. Identify which of your skills can be transferred to your new area.

When you’re at your desk right now, craving change, you know that you may have more tools than you think you can use to achieve the career you want.

First, identify which of your core functions can be carried over to your new field.

Marketing, general management, finance, consulting, sales – this is the role you will take on whether you are in engineering, biotechnology or manufacturing, ”said Kristen Fitzpatrick, executive director, alumni, careers and professional development at Harvard Business School.

“They are looking for professional, academic and technical skills that can be easily transferred to this other industry,” Jessica Hernandez, career development coach, told HuffPost.

She gave the example of a person who switched from the hotel industry to logistics. “If you are in the hospitality industry and you have to work with vendors and suppliers and have to schedule shipments or the like – even though you did in this hospitality industry, those things are still transferable to new industries,” said Hernandez.

If you don’t have any of these transferable skills, Hernandez recommends continuing your education and taking online courses in the skills you need to get certifications that can be included on your resume.

You should also read up on the basic technical skills and concepts you will need to survive in your new field, Fitzpatrick added.

“If you get into the financial industry you should be able to read a 10-K [filing]you should be able to understand how the stock market works. There are fundamentals in every industry you should know and then you can create a more compelling story about why you are worth a small risk as a career switch, ”she said.

2. Rewrite your resume to highlight how you are moving your career in this new direction.

Think of your resume as an explanation of where you want to go in your career rather than a summary of what you have done before.

If you have a radical linchpin that isn’t reflected in your formal education, career experts recommend starting your self-paced study, such as B. Include LinkedIn learning courses and digital boot camps you’ve completed at the top of your resume. That way, a recruiter skipping the page can easily understand your reasons for jumping off your career and how you are working towards them.

“If for some reason the experience isn’t particularly solid, but then [applicants] show that they went to hackathons on the weekends … or doing things on their own that shows determination, shows focus, shows self-motivation, and these types of candidates definitely stand out in my experience, “said Alison Daley. The founder of a technical recruiting and training platform called Recruiting Innovation previously told HuffPost. “Moxie and determination certainly compensate for certain educational trees.”

Ask someone who has no idea what you’re doing to look at your resume so they can help you figure out what’s not clear and what industry language you may still be using from your old career, Fitzpatrick said.

“The amount of abbreviations and jargon I see when it comes to how you’ve been speaking for years – you forget other people don’t know,” she said.

3. Network with people whose careers you want.

To expand your network, reach out to people with the jobs you want and ask them for informational interviews.

“Find out what made them so successful, what they did before they got into the position or industry they were in,” said Hernandez.

She suggests answering your request in a language like, “Hey, I saw you work for this company. I really admire your career path. I want to move into this industry one day. I was just wondering if you wouldn’t mind sharing a step or two that will help you get where you are. “

It is important not to go through this transaction and ask them for a job that may put people off on a first encounter. Rather, they ask them for information and actionable advice. Once you’ve had many of these conversations, you’ll start to notice patterns on these career paths and, in the meantime, build relationships that could eventually lead to a referral, Hernandez said.

4. Identify your risk and budget for the money you will need during the transition.

“If I was someone who was risk averse, it would probably take me eight months to prepare before leaving my job.”

– Ramona Ortega, founder of My Money My Future

“You don’t want the stress of money to come up during the transition. The transition is difficult enough already, ”said Ramona Ortega, founder of the personal finance platform My Money My Future. When making a big career change, you need “a pot of money to hold you up whether you are just starting a new job [and] It will be another three to four weeks before you actually get paid or find a job, ”she said, which can take an indefinite amount of time.

Before switching, Ortega recommends taking a holistic view of your bills, consolidating the accounts so you have a complete picture of where your money is going and where it is coming from, and saving enough to save on fixed expenses like rent, mortgage, or car payments for three to cover three six months. If you are taking money out of a 401 (k) you should consider planning this promotion so that you will make less money and be in a lower tax bracket, she said.

If you’re moving from a full-time job and don’t know when your paycheck is coming, Ortega suggests getting a side gig to help make that transition easier.

“This could be something really random,” she said. “You want the income to come in, especially if you are leaving a job that you’ve been at for 10 years and you are used to check-ins every two weeks [situation]. It’s a very difficult transition for many people, ”she said.

How much money you need for your move depends on your risk comfort. Ortega said some people fall into the “fuck it I’m leaving” camp while others who are risk averse may need a longer period of time to plan and build a larger emergency fund.

“If I were someone more risk averse, it would probably take me eight months to prepare before leaving my job,” she said. “I would make sure my expenses were down. I have a very good sense of my professional prospects and have planned interviews. It takes more planning. ”