Changing careers during a pandemic!?

By Mel Sim

Is it a yes or is it a are you crazy?

With friends losing their jobs and companies closing down, the last thing you want to think about is changing your careers. Chances are if you mention it to your friends or parents, the reaction you’ll get is most likely “are you out of your mind?”

But if you do an unofficial survey, you’ll notice that many have switched careers during a pandemic meaning a. there are jobs out there and b. it’s not entirely a bad idea.

So what makes changing your career during a pandemic a must do? Perhaps you took the opportunity to enroll in online courses during the first lockdown, equipping you with skills that can take your career further. Rather than staying put in the same role, you can now use that to your advantage and apply for a bigger role (more learning, more pay). Especially if those skills are digital based – more companies are now looking for candidates with those skills to fit into new KPIs that revolve around digital tools, which can make you a very popular candidate.

Or your priorities may have changed, which is something you’ve been thinking a lot of during the start of the pandemic. You may discover that you don’t belong in your field and you’re actually better at something completely unrelated. Why waste opportunity if it comes along?

Whatever your reason for wanting to change careers during a pandemic (and there are many reasons as to why someone might want a career change, pandemic or not!), here are a few things to ask yourself before taking that step:

#1 Do you really want to change careers or did WFH get to you?
Working from home can be extremely stressful and this can translate to hating your job. Ideally, if you want to change your job during a pandemic, it would be something you thought of even before the whole WFH stint. If you suddenly find yourself unhappy or dissatisfied with work, ask yourself if it is pandemic related. Has your job changed during the pandemic? Are you not agreeable with these changes? Do you feel like your job will no longer give you any satisfaction once we get past the pandemic? These are all important questions to ask yourself before you make any drastic decision to quit.

#2 Is now the right time?
Has your job or industry been heavily impacted by the pandemic and do you feel like you are no longer able to move further up in your career? Maybe you are in the events or tourism industry, and you may want to change careers now before your role completely goes obsolete. If this is the case, then now is a good time to think about your future. But if your role is something that can withstand the pandemic or even thrive for you, consider whether you need a new job or maybe just an upgrade in responsibilities and skills.

#3 Can I sustain the in between?
Let’s face it – COVID-19 has not been kind to most industries. So even if you do decide to switch careers, who knows when you will actually land a job (unless you’re planning a switch to hot industries like tech then who knows, you may have tons and tons of job offers). If you are looking for something specific and companies aren’t exactly hiring now unless the right candidate comes a long, you may have to sustain yourself financial until that happens. Do you have the means? And what will you do with all that downtime (ideally, your answer should be to sign up for courses and not nothing!).

#4 Do you have all the right skills?
Consider if you are a good candidate for a new role, especially during the pandemic. Companies are being very careful with who they hire now so unless you have something to bring to the table, your chances of immediately landing a job might not be there. So instead of thinking of your new career, why not make it a point to upskill first?

#5 Can you cope with looking for a job and working from home?
Thing is interviews are still happening and companies are still hiring. But many of the usual processes are done remotely, which means you have to look for your job online, go for video interviews and maybe even continue working from home if you are hired! For some of us, working from home is already taking up so much of our time (especially those with home responsibilities like looking after a parent or children) that to use all those time you’re not working to look for a job seems almost too difficult. If your current job doesn’t suck big time, maybe it’s better to stay put first until life (and work) get easier on you. Now more than ever, it is important to focus on your mental health and you don’t need the additional stress of trying to get a new job and then proving you’re a good hire!

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

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