Updated: Nov 6, 2020
Virtually every industry has had to adapt due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuing lockdown and economic fallout. Unfortunately, many enterprises unable to react swiftly have become temporarily invalid, resulting in unforeseen redundancies and widespread job losses. It's an unnerving time for everyone, especially for professionals who suddenly find themselves scrambling for a new job. However, with adaption and necessary policies enforced comes the emergence of new positions and career opportunities, which means an opportunity for those who are at a crossroad to consider a career change.
Changing careers, especially in a harsh economic climate, is not always easy, but with the right strategy and mindset, it is possible.
If you have a stable job in a stable company that will survive this global economic crisis, I would suggest riding it out until you know that things are turning around.
However, if you are in a risky profession in an industry that is struggling and may have layoffs, then it can be a smart move to transition to a career that will thrive under the current conditions.
There has never been a more opportune time to future proof your career and consider a change in direction. To overcome the challenges and move through a career transition here are five solutions that can help you move quickly into an emerging industry.
1. Set the foundation for success
Begin with the end in mind and work backwards. What's your ideal outcome and the timeline of switching into a new career? What problem can you solve with your expertise? Is there a niche that will require your signature strengths?
The goal is to get excited about the process, and you can do so by breaking down goals into small meaningful milestones— do you need to upskill, the professionals you need to speak with, personal things you need to attend to before making this career shift. What are they?
Building a foundation for success will help you review your progress and focus your efforts in the areas where you are getting results. Leading to obtaining an appropriate career move in the quickest time.
Being sufficiently organised also ensures you don't miss out on opportunities and prevents duplicate applications, especially when you will be fielding a plethora of inquiries from recruitment consultants, head-hunters and hiring managers.
Doing something without a well- thought out plan is like making moves in a dark, directionless room. Take the time you need to plan meticulously for your career shift.
2. The intersection of where skills meet demand
Assess your soft skills, not just your hard skills. Many industries have, unfortunately, become invalid due to the pandemic. So going after the job you once had is futile. Your next goal as a job seeker is to carry out a full SWOT analysis of other companies and allocate the time to see how your skills are transferable. Become an expert about WHERE you can quickly deploy your talents and how you can leverage your skills for a new job. The real value is your ability to make smart decisions NOT on the same technical expertise that hundreds of people can execute. While senior managers may need to train you on technical skills for a new job, some of the most valuable assets you bring to the table – your people ones – are already fully honed.
If you find that there is a gap between where you are now and where you want to be, try to pick up new skills whenever you can by taking an online course or volunteering. Don't let your fear of being a beginner stand in your way. If you are passionate about making a career change, you can fast track it.
3. "Ask" Why would people hire you?
As job seekers, it's easy to get enthusiastic about our skill set and expertise. After all, you have worked hard to update your skills so you can deliver a better experience to your employers. You have stayed late in the office to finish a new project or enhance a marketing campaign. So, you would like to share your enthusiasm about how good your achievements are, right?
But employers and recruiters don't want to know how hard you have worked. They want to know what's in it for them. How are you going to help them with a problem the company is currently going through? How are you going to save them on production costs? Saying you are an excellent communicator is one thing, providing a story demonstrating you bestow the attribute is a step above. Most Job Seekers forget to give context and instead ramble on with irrelevant storytelling instead of getting to the point. The CARL method is the best communications strategy by helping you paint a picture using relevant stories. No matter your expertise, if you can't show tangible results, you will find it difficult to interest vertical markets to hire you.
To let employers understand why they should hire you, ask yourself, so what?
4. Get people to champion your cause
When changing careers, what you need in the beginning is to make new connections and reconnect with ex-work colleagues to build momentum. With enough energy, you'll eventually experience that day when an opportunity lands and you're into the interviews or onto your next career.
Create conversations with senior leaders, get them to champion your cause and help them to visualise you as an employee of high value. A big mistake I see often is career changers asking for help and not clearly defining what they want in their next career. Be clear and concise and reach out with a defined message. Ask ex-work colleagues for a referral, they know you on a professional level and can vouch for your industry experience and your ability.
Envision your close contacts as your 𝘂𝗻𝗽𝗮𝗶𝗱 𝗣𝗥 they have proximity to people who can elevate your career. Also, request Informational interviews to uncover all of the blind spots you may have concerning a new career and all of the not so fun job duties that will be involved.
Whatever it takes, keep creating connections, put yourself out there, and the opportunities will come.
5. Create a gravitational pull
If you don't have the luxury of a high-quality network by going to a top-tier university (or working at a top-tier company), chances are you don't have connections that can open doors, period. No amount of virtual zoom requests, social distancing coffee hangouts will do anything if you don't know how to move the conversation forward. Networking and success go hand in hand.
Proximity is power, so if you are clear about where you want to go in your next career, and what you want to do, and are passionate about it, creating great content is your best strategy for attracting the right audience. LinkedIn offers a platform which is available to anyone creative, eager, and willing to put in the effort. When I work with my clients one to one, I ask them to think about how they can position themselves to employers, so they are addressing a company's pain points.
By increasing your thought leadership, you are showing prospective hiring managers and employers that not only do you want the job, but you are willing to do the hard work it takes to pivot into a new career.
The most important thing to remember is that a career change will not happen overnight. You have to remain in the game before you start to see any real progress. Don’t wait for employers to recognise your talents. Tactfully force your way into conversations, and insert yourself as a person of influence and expertise.
You are capable of extraordinary things, changing careers should be no exception, but it requires long term sustained effort. Once you decide to switch, commit to it and make it your focus.
Embrace the idea that anything worth doing is outside your comfort zone.
If you are looking for actionable steps to help you change careers than connect with me here