While the pandemic has brought a tremendous amount of uncertainty, there is a silver lining. More individuals are taking a step back to reevaluate their priorities and values. Collecting a paycheck is no longer enough. Workers are also looking for purpose and meaning in their work. And the good news is that Covid-19 has created new professional opportunities in the long-term. According to a recent study, women, in particular, are preparing to transition careers with 25% setting up a new business and over 60% planning a complete career pivot. Changing professions during these unsettling times can be tricky but not impossible. Liz Elting, Founder and CEO of the Elizabeth Elting Foundation, offers these five ways to navigate a career change with confidence:
Remember, you aren’t starting from scratch
You’re making a career change, which presumably means you already have a career, and that’s a good thing. You’ve got experience, a work history, and a skill set you’ve built over time. Those skills are your biggest asset, especially across industries, because so many of them are transferable. If you were in sales, you’ve got experience in client management. If you were in accounting, you already understand budgets, which is so much of a manager’s job.
Bring value, not qualifications
There’s a minimum level of competence any adult applying for an office job is expected to have. Your best bet isn’t to go in pitching why you’re capable of doing the work—they already believe you can! Instead, focus on what you bring to the position that nobody else can. And at the end of the day, that’s you: your experience, your history, your skills and your energy. That’s what you need to emphasize.
Build on what you’ve already done
Think of your work history as less of a report card and more of a baseball card. It shows where you’ve been, how you’ve developed, and where it’s taken you. Show employers in your newly chosen career that you’ve been growing into exactly this new role—that you’re not just ready for a career change but primed for it. That means focusing on more than just technical skills, but also skills like collaboration, leadership and teamwork. None of it has been a waste, and all of it has taught you something that makes you the best candidate.
Leverage your passion
You can train people in software systems or management techniques, but you can’t teach someone how to be on fire for something. Passion is exciting and energizing; it affects everyone in the room, getting the teammoving in the same direction. Bringing out that fire, more than anything, communicates to hiring managers what makes you an exciting find they won’t want to miss out on.
Be honest with yourself
The entire world is currently living in the pandemic’s liminal space, between the past and the future where everything sorts itself out. Be honest with yourself about what level of risk you can and can’t absorb while still being open to a career change. There will be amazing jobs you can’t take, and there will be awful jobs you can. Keep your eyes open and fixed on tomorrow but make sure you have one foot planted firmly in today.
You might be asking yourself whether the payoff of making a career change is worth the challenges that come with it. The answer is yes—as long as it helps you secure a role that aligns with your long-term values and priorities. As daunting as it may be to change professions during a global crisis, it can be done. With confidence, planning and persistence, you will be well on your way to finding a career that fulfills you and aligns with your life’s purpose.