Aug 25th 2020

COVID: 4 ways to make a successful career change

The current pandemic has impacted people and businesses across the globe, with layoffs, furloughs, and reduced hours. And if your job has been affected, you might be asking yourself what the best next step is for you?

Research has shown that two-thirds of workers are using this time to re-evaluate their career, with over half of people citing a desire to learn new skills or challenge themselves. It may not be an ideal situation, but it might just be the push you needed to find work in a role that is more suited to you.

No matter your circumstances, with a positive attitude and the right strategy in place, you can set yourself up for a successful move into an exciting, new career.

Here are 4 top tips for changing career

Know what you have to offer

It is highly likely that you have picked up skills throughout your career, or even on the side, which are not only useful but also highly transferable for the new path you are pursuing.

Although technical skills are needed for a job, the power of soft skills should not go underestimated. In fact, a recent study we did showed that almost three-quarters of the 500 companies we surveyed believe that hiring people with good soft skills will be more important now more than ever. So really draw on those that you have acquired over the years and how they can be applied to your future role. A good place to start is by reviewing your past successful roles, volunteer work, projects, and any side-hustles you may have. You could even turn to friends and family for what they think makes you naturally shine.

Author Abhijeet Khadilkar says “You may have many strengths, but you need self-awareness to bring them forth.”

There are even free tools out there that can help you determine these skills and what career they would be best suited to.

Have the right connections 

A career change not only takes having the right skills but knowing the right people. You can cultivate relationships and build professional networks with influential people on both Twitter and Linkedin.

Use social media platforms to be engaged, posting interesting content about the industry you are looking to move into. Plus, they are great places to hear about any virtual networking events. Richard Hutchinson, Recruitment Delivery Lead of Cityfibre, gives his own networking tips where he advises following businesses to see when they are recruiting, but making sure your connections are focused and not sporadic.

“This way you can build the right network and shine in the right way.”

And ultimately, put yourself in the best position in your job search of coming across the right opportunity at the right time.

Put those connections into action

Once you know where you’re going, what skills you’re bringing with you and have the right connections in place – the next step is to put those connections into action and set up informational interviews.

They are a more formal version of conversations with people in your dream career. They allow you to gather information about the job, industry, and employers before diving in. People will be eager to talk to you if you have done your research, seem passionate about the industry, and most importantly, make it obvious it’s for information and not for an immediate job.

We spoke to CCO of Capdesk, Hakon Junge, and he described how someone reached out to him who had been recently laid off. She worked in fashion and was looking for a career change into the fintech space. She seized the opportunity of using her connections on Linkedin and therefore was able to get useful career change advice from a leader in the industry.

“It’s about connect, respect, and request. You’ve got to put in that daily grind, remaining present and focused.”

So, using your networking connections, make a list of who you’d like to talk to and get in touch with them. Set up requests for meetings so that it has that slightly more formal edge to it. These conversations could be just the leg-up you need to get you on track.

Identify your gaps and upskill

Having the right transferable skills is a great place to start, but upskilling through online courses or work experience will give you that competitive edge and make you stand out to employers.

Once you know what you have to offer, you will then be able to draw on where your skills gaps are for the requirements of your new job. From there, you can determine what courses are relevant, honing in on what skills you need to pave the way for your career change.

Alongside these courses, look to grab any relevant experience you can to really bolster your case. Don’t fear – you don’t need years of full-time work to show you’ve got the talent. Look for opportunities to get the experience that will develop new skills or in your target field, whether it’s freelancing, an internship, or work experience. It’s all about continuing to learn with a strong work ethic and you will get your foot in the door with some valuable experience.

Taking the plunge into a new career is never easy. You often feel like you are starting from scratch. But a lot of the skills you will have acquired will be easily transferable, and if you feel like you have gaps, the world of technology means you have the tools you need to upskill right at your fingertips. Tools that will also help you build the right connections and get your foot in the door. You just need to approach things with a positive attitude, making sure to sell yourself and display a strong passion for the industry.

For more top tips on your job search, check out our Ultimate Guide to getting a job.