How to prepare for a career change post-coronavirus

DEAR READERS: Just before the pandemic hit, several people I know were considering a career change. One was prepared to ask for a raise during his next review, and to switch his career path if he didn’t get it; now he is happy that review never happened! His job and benefits are secure for at least the next year. How can he — or anyone considering a career change — use this time wisely to make sure they’re prepared to hit the ground running once the time is right?
“Here’s the question to ask yourself: Do you want to be ahead of where you are right now when the pandemic is over or in the same spot?” says Randi Braun, an executive coach and founder of Something Major. “Don’t wait for the pandemic to end to start that switch! If your career is a journey, use this time to pack your bags.”
So, what should you put in your career suitcase besides an updated resume, a refreshed LinkedIn, and other social media profiles?
Toss in a comprehensive list of what you have to offer.
“The best way to position yourself for a career switch is to have a clear understanding of what you do best and how you can add value to the company’s ‘team,’” says career coach Ray Giese of My College Planning Team. “You may be in a career now that does not suit you, and the time we’ve had at home may have given you a different perspective.”
How do you narrow “what you do best” down? According to Giese, thinking about how you solve problems and approach opportunities, your preferred work style and environment, and how you learn and communicate best will lead to a career well-suited to you. “Taking the time to assess your unique parameters will help you to clearly articulate your value to an organization, how you help them solve their unique problems, or take advantage of opportunities and achieve their goals,” he says.
You also can tuck away a list of people you can ask for recommendations down the road — and maybe even get some of them to write recommendations on your LinkedIn profile, says Andrea Clement, a career consultant and president of ClemCo, LLC. But be a bit cautious about putting feelers out to people in your network, since many might have been laid off or furloughed — and consider helping those who might not be as fortunate, she adds.
“The fact that he is employed while many are not does give him a bit of an advantage he may be able to leverage in his search, especially if he is in a position to help other people in his network with their job search — for example, by offering professional recommendations or referrals to jobs with his current or past employers,” Clement says.
“This could be a great way to strengthen his network while helping others. Then, when he is ready to make a move and reach out to his network, people maybe even more receptive to helping him based on the assistance or guidance he provided while they were in need.”
It’s also a good time to monitor trends in companies and industries you hope to work in eventually, Clement adds. “Markets, companies, and industries are changing so rapidly right now that one’s career objectives may need to adjust with the times also,” she adds. “It’s a pretty tough time to be looking for a job … That said, it is feasible — you just have to be even more focused and determined than ever and be able to differentiate yourself from all the other job seekers.”
And while anyone looking for a new career now should be prepared to face more rejection than during more “normal” times, don’t give up the search. “Just understand that’s part of the process,” Clement says. “Every ‘no thanks’ gets you one step closer to a ‘yes’ and to your next new role!”
Kathleen Furore is a Chicago-based writer and editor who has covered personal finance and other business-related topics for a variety of trade and consumer publications. You can email her your career questions at kfurore@yahoo.com.
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