- The COVID-19 pandemic has cost at least 47 million Americans their jobs, made it difficult for 2020 college graduates to find work, and revealed that employees with full-time jobs have serious plans to exit their roles soon.
- Full-time employees are seeking new jobs that offer better benefits and job security.
- Here are seven tips from experts on why it may be a good idea to switch careers during a pandemic.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
In 2019, I wrote about the value of changing jobs even if you don’t want to or feel as if it’s the “right” time to start a job hunt.
There is no way I could have predicted the worldwide impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the 2020 workforce. More than 47 million Americans have filed for unemployment since March. Recent college graduates are struggling to find full-time work â€” or even to land an internship.
Employees who still have full-time jobs also have serious plans to exit their roles. Quinyx, a leading workforce-management platform headquartered in Boston, recently released a study called The State of the Deskless Workforce.
The study, conducted in April, found that 18% of deskless workers â€” in fields like retail or healthcare â€” said they planned to leave for better benefits and new opportunities.
As daunting as it may be to look for a new job during a global crisis, there are still opportunities to be found for job hunters. Here are seven reasons to consider changing jobs amid COVID-19.
You’re ready to get explicitly curious about your purpose
Mory Fontanez, a purpose coach and CEO of 822 Group, believes that times of transition are particularly beneficial for corporate employees. It’s an invitation to get curious about yourself and reflect on what is â€” and isn’t â€” in alignment for your career.
“Crisis is an opportunity,” Fontanez told Business Insider. “It asks us to pause and look deeply and honestly at all the things we have been doing day in and day out without really thinking about whether those things fulfilled us, played on our strengths, or aligned with our own purpose.”
Being pushed into finding a new career or job is actually empowering. It allows workers to get curious about who they are and how they can do work that aligns with their purpose.
How do you get started? First, Fontanez says to look back at your career. Seek out every moment that brought you joy. These may be projects or even one-off interactions in which you were filled with joy focusing on this work.
“This is where the saying ‘Do what you love and success will come’ comes from,” Fontanez said.
Then make a list of those joyous moments. Try to think about whether these instances also allowed you to practice a skill set or an innate talent. If the answer is yes, Fontanez says, you have all the clues you need right in front of you.
“Look for opportunities that match these recollections of joyful experiences that allowed your talents to shine through effortlessly,” Fontanez said. “Once you have this clarity, write it out. ‘My purpose is to do X.'”
This will allow you to lead with your purpose during the job search and interview process.
“Own what you’re good at!” Fontanez said. “Own the fact that you are looking for something new because you want to enjoy what you do and feel a sense of purpose when you show up at you job every day.”
This is also a win for human-resources professionals reviewing your job-application materials.
“It’s refreshing for would-be employers to hear someone have this confidence and sense of purpose,” Fontanez said. “It tells them you are thoughtful, passionate, and motivated to be purposeful in all that you do.”
Taking online classes gives you a chance to build transferable skills
Did you enroll in a free online course during quarantine, like Yale University’s The Science of Well-Being? Great! You’re on the right track for reflecting on your career progression and even considering new directions you might pivot into moving forward.
Janelle Bieler is the senior vice president at Adecco USA, which provides workforce solutions for employers. Bieler says social-distancing measures have given job candidates a great opportunity to use their downtime to take online classes to learn new technology or brush up on existing skills.
“As more employers are looking for transferable skills that can be applied to the position at hand, candidates are afforded more liberties in applying for roles and industries that pique their interest, rather than those that solely align with their past experience.” Bieler said.
People want to connect and network with you
Sharon Belden Castonguay is the executive director of Wesleyan University’s Gordon Career Centre. She has noticed most job hunters do not find new positions simply by uploading their rÃ©sumÃ©s to job boards alongside thousands of others. The smart move to make is connecting with people in their field and organisations of interest.
The most powerful aspects of our networks, according to Castonguay, are what many may refer to as “weak ties.” These include friends of friends, colleagues of former coworkers, and members of college alumni networks.
After several months of isolation in quarantine and lockdown, these people are eager to assist job seekers in need of help.
“Now is a great time to reach out to people, check in on them, and see if they have referrals for you,” Castonguay told Business Insider. “They want to connect, and connecting with people is how you find a new job.”
Job opportunities are rising â€” and they’re looking for flexible applicants
Debora Roland, the vice president of human resources at CareerArc, has had several candidates ask if they should try to apply for jobs â€” or if it’s even worth the attempt in a COVID-19 climate.
Roland’s answer is yes.
“Interviews are still happening, and so is hiring,” Roland told Business Insider. “There are more and more companies that are going to be in need of people. Job seekers should still be on the lookout and will need to be more flexible about what their new role will look like.”
Roland adds that while jobs have been lost in some areas, opportunities are rising in other industries. Think technology, digital entertainment, online learning, essential services, and healthcare. These industries are all hiring and actively seeking candidates.
“Be open to new industries and opportunities,” Roland said. “Do your research to explore how your background can add value. This is an opportunity for candidates to grow in their careers and add new skill sets and knowledge to their current backgrounds.”
You can team up with a job buddy to help hold you accountable
Chandra Turner, the founder of Ed2010, provides insider career advice, one-on-one coaching, and job postings for people interested in pursuing their dream jobs in media. Recently, Turner shared advice on what content creators and editors should do next while waiting for job listings to return.
Turner skipped traditional tips â€” like revamping your rÃ©sumÃ© â€” in favour of less obvious strategies that make a bigger impact for those on the job hunt. One of her top recommendations is to get a job buddy.
Searching for a new job is a full-time job, regardless of the economic climate. You’ll need a job buddy to help support you. If you feel as if you might lose momentum or decide to stay with your current employer for the time being, that buddy will keep you motivated and encouraged to stay the course.
“Team up with a friend who is also looking and keep each other accountable,” Turner said. “Make a time to check in with each other once a week to check in on what you said you’d do. Share your successes with each other. It will make you feel less alone and keep you going.”
The comfort of home is the perfect space to conduct a job hunt
Working from home? The tech career coach, Bessy Tam says to seize the opportunity to make the job hunt, and interview process, much more comfortable at home.
Networking? It’s much easier to get on the phone and chat with a connection at home than to try to sneak out from the traditional office for a call together.
Landed an interview? In the “before times,” candidates had to burn rubber home on their commute to take the meeting or fake an early-out excuse from the office. Neither needs to happen now that you’re working from home.
“Companies are spreading out interviews throughout the week and holding interviews through video platforms, like Zoom and Google Hangout,” Tam said. “This holds a great opportunity to be more prepared, comfortable, and personable during interviews.”
It’s time to do what makes you happy
This was the final point I made in my original 2019 article. It still holds true in 2020, and the original quotes from the career coach Gracie Miller are worth repeating.
For over six years, Miller has helped people change jobs â€” even if they weren’t sure they were ready for the change. Miller finds that her clients do somewhat like their jobs but feel as if something is missing.
What these clients realise is that they wish they had found careers that paid their bills and lit them up inside sooner. It’s not always about wanting to change jobs for the sake of changing jobs â€” it’s the uncertainty that something better exists or that it does exist but you may not get it.
“It’s worth the risk to go for long-term happiness,” Miller said. “You have to act on the fact that deep down you know you could be more fulfilled.”
The trick is to do self-discovery and research. Rather than look at the same terms in your current role, seek out fields of interest to find careers that might be a better fit.
“You will be happier for it, and your family, friends, and coworkers will be happier to be around you,” she said.