Thinking about overhauling your career right now? You have lots of company!
Uncertainty and change have a lot of people asking if they’re doing what they really want to do. Many people who are out of work want a new career that’s crisis-proof. Parents need a work-life balance that actually balances. We get it.
Whether you’re in the “maybe I want something different” stage or need to earn some income soon, we’re ready to help. A lot of us have experience making career pivots, so we know change is possible with the right planning and support.
In this article series, we cover the basics of reinventing your career during COVID, including:
- Why now could be the best time to change your career.
- Where to pick up new career skills without taking on massive debt.
- How to line up financial and practical support as you launch your new career.
- How to build your new personal brand.
- How to make your personal portfolio website to reach employers or clients.
- How to promote yourself in your new field so you can find the work you want.
Let’s get started. Here’s why now could be a good time to make your career move and how to start planning.
Change is the new normal
Trying times encourage us to try new things, because stress shows us clearly what works and what’s broken.
In some cases, whole industries have shown how vulnerable they are, and workers are responding by getting out. Since the pandemic began, 63% of laid-off workers have moved to different industries. Four percent have changed their whole career path.
For lots of people who still have jobs, the combination of always-on remote work and always-on caregiving at home has become a slog. For others, the workday risk of infection is a stressor. The need to make things work better may be why 61% of women are now planning a “complete pivot” of their careers and 25% are planning to start their own business.
Decide what you want from your next career
When you’re fed up, looking for a job or bored with your work, it’s easy to say what you don’t want in your new career or next job. Getting clear on what you do want is harder, but to do work you love, you first need to know what that work looks like.
Your new career: the big picture
You know how every company has a mission statement—a sentence or two that outlines what they do? You need one for your career switch, too.
For example, if you’re a computer engineer who wants to work on climate change issues, your mission statement could be something like, “I help create solutions to improve our climate.” Or if you’re a teacher who wants to move into digital marketing, your mission statement might be, “I help clients reach their audiences online.”
A simple statement like this will help you stay focused, and it’s not so detailed that you have to spend hours agonizing over it.
After you write your mission statement, think about the role you want:
- Entrepreneur: You want to build your own business and you’re eager to learn everything you need to know to make it happen.
- Leader: You know how to run a team, bring out the best in people and achieve big goals.
- Contributor: You work best as part of a team and you’re not interested in climbing the ladder or going it alone.
Combining your mission statement and ideal role gives some shape to your career plan: Maybe you want to work as a green energy engineer who contributes to a team. Maybe you want to start a digital marketing business. Whatever your plan looks like, it’s time to add a few details.
Your new career: the practical stuff
The big picture is important, but what will the day-to-day little pictures look like? Answering these questions can help you start sketching in the details.
- What kinds of tasks do you like doing most? For example, if you enjoy helping people learn new things and want a career in cybersecurity, you might want a role in employee security awareness training, cybersecurity curriculum development or security consulting for businesses.
- What kind of interactions do you like to have with people? Do you thrive on in-person meetings and events, or do you do your best work on your own?
- Do you want a flexible work schedule or predictable hours? Look for employers who are serious about flexibility or consider starting your own business if you must have some control over your schedule.
- Can you work remotely, or would you rather go to an office? More employers are going remote permanently, which is great if that’s what you want. If you’re a commuter at heart, you’ll want to focus on employers that give you that option.
- What kind of income do you need? A rewarding career is most rewarding when you can pay the bills, handle emergencies, save for your future and have some fun along the way.
Take some time to think these questions over and imagine what your days might be like. Once you have a general idea of how you’d like your workdays to go, it’s time to do some homework.
Find out what you need to know
Whether you want to start a new career as a gluten-free baker, a licensed vocational nurse or a web developer, you need to know what to expect and how to get ready. For example:
- Are there educational or certification requirements for your new career? If you don’t have them, don’t worry. Right now, you’re just gathering information.
- What’s the job outlook for this career? Is it in a field that’s growing or one that’s in decline?
- What’s the pay range? Does it match what you want?
- What are some similar jobs? Take a look and see if they could be a good fit, too.
- Are there opportunities in your area? If not, are you willing to move?
For just about any job, you can find the answers to these basic questions with a quick search in the U.S. Occupational Outlook Handbook. You’ll find detailed information and up-to-date numbers to help you firm up your plans.
OK, but what if your dream career requires a degree or training you don’t have yet? Stay tuned. We’re going to look at ways to get the skills you need without taking on a bunch of debt in an upcoming post.
In the meantime, now’s a good time to learn how to make a personal website to connect with prospective employers or clients as part of your path to a new career.