COVID-19, a powerful force for career change
Who could have predicted the course of events that we’ve seen over the past twelve months? Some might say Bill Gates, or even The Simpsons! A global pandemic was certainly not factored into my career plans. Was it factored into yours?
Or has the pandemic prompted an unexpected career change?
As a career management coach I have increasingly in the last 12 months been working with career professionals who say they feel they are in limbo. They were accustomed to being in charge if their careers. They knew where they were heading, had a plan on how to get there. Even when the future is fairly predictable, career change can be scary. It is even more so in a global crisis and UK job market that’s seriously shaky. Many people are now facing an unplanned career change. Whether that’s seeking a new role following redundancy, deciding on a change of direction after having had time off on furlough to reevaluate their career, or having been forced to change industry following multiple lockdowns.
Since the pandemic hit, over 11.4 million jobs have been furloughed under the UK Government’s job retention scheme (you can read the full stats here if you’re interested). If you were impacted by the last economic recession in 2008 / 2009, you will remember what a shock wave that had on so many of our careers.
For me personally, 2008 meant having to make my six staff redundant, sublet our offices (eventually) and reinvent myself. That did not happen overnight – in fact it took five years of experimenting and trying out new identities. I was grappling with questions like:
“I don’t know where to begin”
“I’m not sure which choices are the right ones”
“What if I fail?”
It was a stressful and extremely uncomfortable time.
Fast forward to COVID, I am so much better off than the thousands who now find themselves going through what I did. And I am grateful that the soul searching and discomfort I went through has allowed me to bounce back and use my experiences to coach and mentor others.
Three tips to help you face career change head on and turn it into a purposeful experience.
With feelings of panic and fear taking over your mind, how can you go from being a rabbit in the headlights to being able to confidently take that first step towards your new career?
1. Get to know yourself.
The first stage is to understand that our careers are an extension of who we are. They’re not just a job we show up to, get done and leave. We are emotionally attached to them! They give us a sense of identity and purpose. So making a career change is far more than just changing what we do. To make a successful career change, we need to change ourselves first.
2. Ask yourself forward-thinking questions.
Instead of those questions that make us look backwards when we are feeling panic and fear, ask yourself:
“Who could my possible selves be?”
“Which key people do I know or not yet know? And who do I need to know?”
“What do I need to DO? What should I test and try out to discover new possibilities?”
Asking these questions will allow you to learn so much about yourself – and open up new directions for your career go in. Be honest with yourself – what risks are you prepared to take in this new Covid landscape? Then figure out who can help you get where you want to go.
3. Don’t rush the process.
You might want to throw your CV out into the job market quickly and get a job just so you are doing something and earning some money. Don’t! That would be a waste of time and energy and put you at risk of extending the uncertainty of your career in the months ahead.
Think of this unexpected career change as an opportunity to reevaluate and redefine you. Savour it. We have long lives ahead of us, and many more hours to work. We owe it to ourselves to become someone we are proud of, rather than someone we feel we ought to be.
Need someone to guide you through a career change?
I’m here to help my clients through that limbo land of career change and guide them through the tricky thoughts and feelings that come with it. Changing career is not easy to do on your own. I am here to encourage you to test the waters, step outside your comfort zone, make sense of your experiences and ultimately – find a new career that you look forward to going to work for.
Or, get in touch by emailing me or calling 01223 633535.