Think the Pandemic Has Derailed Your Career? Regroup & Thrive!
You, like many of my clients, may be feeling life has thrown you a curveball as you experience plenty of career turbulence right now. If your planned career trajectory has been thrown off course, now is the time for a purposeful exploration of what is the next best step for your life and career and to optimize your personal branding to compete to win.
It is never too late to take time to re-evaluate or, for some, to further contemplate in a meaningful way who you are and what you want from life. In light of the disruption caused by the pandemic, you can make this a fruitful time in the midst of much confusion.
The majority of us selected a career right out of high school, and we followed mom and dad’s advice as well as the societal norm to just keep walking down that designated path until retirement. Consider this, it takes about a decade to go from starting your career to finding a job that aligns with your values and your sense of purpose, and your identity. This may be your time to reevaluate.
Instead of stressing about being thrown off the path you set for yourself, see this as a time of discovery. Since the job market is so disrupted now anyway, take advantage of the opportunity afforded you.
Career Exploration/Career Change
When you’re at the peak of your career, is it a good or bad time to thinking about changing careers? On the plus side, you have significant experience that you can parlay into a new role. On the downside, you’re walking away at just the time that you are capitalizing on that experience — you put more at risk in terms of salary, title, and other career benefits.
In my experience as a career coach and having changed careers myself, once you have a notion that you want to change careers, you probably do. It’s more a question of how to do it. In your peak earning years, the risk of making a change looms large. Therefore, changing careers in the peak earning years is about managing the risk and navigating the transition so that your experience is valued in your new field.
The following career exploration series has helped 100’s of clients challenge the status quo and the internal messages that have kept them stuck in their current position.
My mid-career clients who changed careers had three things in common:
1 – Successful career changers are realistic about the trade-offs they are making
One big pharma client transitioned to a bigger role but in a smaller company without the recognizable brand name. He didn’t take a pay cut but did take on more risk. He also went from 20+ direct reports to one, so his day-to-day would be much more hands-on (i.e., include “grunt” work).
There is variability in compensation (including base salary, bonus, growth) across industries, companies, and roles. Research what is customary for the area you are targeting and be honest with yourself about what you can live with (and without). Don’t assume you’ll have to take less money necessarily, but don’t expect everything to be as it was in your previous career – you are making a change after all.
2 – Successful career changers stay confident and focus on educating potential employers on the value they add
One operations client transitioned to business development and credits unwavering confidence with convincing his new employer to give him a chance. We worked a lot on how he communicated his value to leave no doubt that he could be productive on day one.
If you want to make a career change, you will have to be convincing, and you will have to be able to clearly articulate how you add value with your transitional skills.
3 – Successful career changers hone their job search technique
Your network may get you considered, but you still need to interview with multiple people to get the offer. Experienced hires always require several rounds. Expect to be challenged at interviews and be prepared to make a case for how you would approach the job, how much you know about the new field and how much value you would bring to this employer specifically.
All of my clients who successfully crossed over into a new field were willing to put in significant work on the nitty-gritty of the job search. This included a lot of interview practice. It also included overhauling their marketing material, (Resume/Cover Letter/LinkedIn update). These experienced professionals weren’t too senior to get hands-on with the most basic of job search activities.
Create several resumes that focus on different career paths that utilize your transferable skills, to increase your chances of finding your next position. Don’t only think about landing your dream job. Instead, find jobs where you may learn the most because they will teach you certain skills or expose you to certain people.
For example, some jobs you might have applied for in the past may be cutting back. However, opportunities in different industries or a new area of focus might be possible. Innovative career choices now will expose you to opportunities to use your skills in new ways and allow you to share a new perspective with others.
Strategically use every opportunity that you have to learn new skills and more about yourself. That way when the economy does resume and you do have more options, you have a much clearer sense about what you want to do and what you’ve learned. You’ll be able to tell future employers a good story of what you accomplished and how you grew in this period, and it may end up putting you ahead.
There is no expiration date on making a career change
You can make a big change later in your career. However, it does require time and effort, and when you’re already in a big job, finding those extra resources is challenging. Career change also requires proving yourself, even though you have already done that before. Finally, changing careers means landing a job – you have to know how to interview, and it may have been a while. Are you willing to do what it takes?
If the endeavor seems daunting, connect with a Career Coach for help and guidance related to Career Exploration, Resume/Cover Letter/LinkedIn Updates, and Interview Prep.