3 Tips on Changing Careers Unexpectedly Because of Coronavirus
By Andrej Kovacevic
June 28 2020 - The Coronavirus has forced many people into making a sudden and unexpected career change. In particular, people in the travel and hospitality industries are now unemployed in large numbers; and, with many countries still having closed borders or long quarantine restrictions in place, it is unlikely that these industries will be able to resume business at previous levels in the immediate future. Therefore people who used to work in these industries are unlikely to be able to immediately find work that is similar to what they are used to doing.
Unfortunately, travel and hospitality weren't the only industries affected by this crisis. Virtually all industries across the globe have been affected in some way, and many have had to make extreme changes to remain viable.
So how do you make an unexpected career change into a different industry at a time when unemployment is soaring? Let's take a look at some tips for job seekers who need to shift gears quickly and get up-to-speed in a new role.
1. Seek Clarity, Tips and Advice From Your Network
In the UK, and, indeed, virtually everywhere on earth, jobs are filled primarily by word of mouth - through individuals' personal and professional network of contacts. So, when you need to find a new job, reaching out to the people in your own sphere of influence is the most practical first step.
In-person networking is the absolute best method of finding a job; 85 percent of all job openings in the UK are filled by networking. So, your phone and contacts list are the two best resources in your possession for getting started.
If you still haven't made any progress and you've reached out to your entire list of contacts, you could have a go at contacting friends of friends via social networks such as Linkedin and Facebook.
2. Search for Openings in an Industry That Is Still Deemed Essential
Finding a new career could be trickier than one might think. There are two major considerations to keep in mind as you choose the new career you'll pursue. One is, obviously, the COVID-19 crisis that contributed significantly to the current recession; it is likely to remain an ongoing issue for the immediate future.
The other is the looming threat of automation, which could potentially be an asset to employers; when seeking to reduce costs and increase profitability, automation is an attractive proposal, because robots don't get sick, ask for raises or require overtime pay. Automation could, however, lead to future changes in the nature of work, not to mention additional job losses for human workers.
Career changers must dodge both of these bullets when choosing a new industry. No industry is fully immune from either issue. Even the healthcare industry, which is typically quite recession-proof, has had to deal with plunging profits in response to COVID-19. As a result, some healthcare workers have endured pay cuts and reduced hours. At the same time, automation threatens to further reduce hours or create job consolidation as automation makes the nature of a healthcare worker's job more efficient.
So, when you choose a new industry, you're inevitably facing the task of figuring out how to make yourself the most indispensable employee you possibly can. You don't want to spend all the time and resources necessary to change industries, only to be automated out of your new career in a few years' time.
In any case, you'll want to choose a job that robots cannot effectively do - a job that requires uniquely human skills.
Management roles in essential industries would be worth considering, because they often pay handsomely and cannot easily be automated. Nurturing roles, such as registered nursing and early childhood education, are also ideal, since these jobs require human empathy. The tech sector holds many other interesting possibilities; in particular, talented individuals with expertise in telehealth technologies, cyber security and robotics are in significant demand right now.
Regardless of your interests and talents, before you definitively pursue a new career, it would be prudent to research its potential for automation in addition to the current openings.
Job Hunting Resources:
UK-based job seekers can use the resources available at the Find a Job website to research job openings. The National Careers Service website is another helpful resource for information on various careers including salary potential and future outlook. In Australia, the joboutlook.gov.au website provides comparable insights. In New Zealand, the Jobs.govt.nz website serves some of the same functions and also provides some insights on current job openings.
3. Upskill As Necessary
Entering a new industry may require you to learn or strengthen skills you haven't yet mastered. This means you may need to devote some effort to upskilling.
There are many possible approaches you could take for getting up to speed in the skills you'd need for working in a different industry. The easiest and most affordable solution is to read industry-specific books, websites or periodicals, but these may not provide the comprehensive amount of information you'd need for success. Another approach is to earn certifications in the industry in which you plan to seek work. You might also wish to earn an advanced degree that's specifically tailored to the industry you aspire to work in.
Most importantly, you'll benefit from networking with professionals who are already working in your chosen industry. It's ideal if you can make these connections as soon as possible. Working professionals can give you insights on which approach to upskilling would be most advantageous from their employer's point of view.
In the UK, the Times Higher Education provides a helpful source of academic and university news. The Guardian also maintains a newsfeed focused specifically on academic news. In Australia and New Zealand, the Training.com.au and Training.co.nz academic portals are one-stop resources for finding information about TAFE courses and training programmes in virtually all of Australia's and New Zealand's most popular industries.
You can expect that finding a new job will be challenging, even if you implement all these suggestions. The most important suggestion of all is not already mentioned above: Take courage and don't give up on launching your new career, even if you are slower than you want to be in getting started with it. This is a difficult time, and you should never take inevitable rejections personally. Things will not always be like this; this period in history, too, shall pass, like all economic downturns eventually do.
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