To say that 2020 is a year that has bred uncertainty is quite the understatement. Economies have suffered and a lot of people have either lost their jobs or been left in a position of extreme uncertainty. But, as the old saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining. Amidst all this gloom and uncertainty, there are career opportunities like almost never before.
In fact, according to recent research conducted by findcourses.com, more than a third of respondents have decided to change careers as a direct result of the pandemic. If this seems like a surprisingly high number, then the fact that 89% of respondents who are happy in their current job are considering a career change.
But how has the pandemic driven this shift? How can you go about changing your career?
Age is Just a Number
Interestingly, the largest number of those looking to change careers at the moment are those who have been in the workforce the longest: the 55+ age group. This is interesting, and somewhat unexpected, result.
Perhaps it is because people in this age group are more likely to have been working in the same role or sector for a good number of years. As they think about their post-work life, they might be thinking about their careers too.
The research did not ask people about the size of their career move. For example: is it a whole-scale from marketing to medicine or a smaller move from copywriting to proofreading manuscripts?
It might well be that older people are planning on smaller career moves, rather than major shifts. Whatever the scale of the shift you are considering, the first thing you need to do is some homework.
Do a Little Homework
A career change is a major life decision. All major life decisions start with homework.
Think about the sector that you are looking to get into. Look at job sites, LinkedIn and other forums to see if there are roles or demand in that area. If there is not, you might have trouble finding work if it is a major shift.
For example: if you are looking to go into social work, you might find that social work roles are few and far between. However, there might be a good number of jobs in a related role; youth therapy or early years visitor, to name but two.
If you do find that are viable opportunities in the sector in which you are interested, then you next need to plan out how to get into that sector.
Education, Training or Transferable Skills?
Once you have done your homework and looked at whether or not your desired change is doable, the next step is to think about how to make that step.
There are three important questions to ask yourself here:
- Is training expensive? Is there any funding available?
- Will you get a healthy return on your investment?
- Is education the only way in? Could you undertake training instead?
If you find that some sort of education is necessary to change careers, then look into your funding options. In the wake of the pandemic, many national governments have put in place funding chests that can be used to pay for training courses that can help people get back into the job market.
Looking at vocational training courses can be a strong option for those who want to completely change their professional life. The courses can also help upskill basic soft skills, with programs like communication or negotiation skills training - skills like these are in-demand at many organizations.
Even if you are not out of work, you might still be able to apply. Lists of funding options and available bursaries can probably be found on your government’s website.
That being said, reskilling and upskilling for a new career can also be undertaken more practically. Increasingly, employers are valuing experience just as much as education. This is no longer just true for young graduates, but for people in all stages of their working life.
Try approaching companies and organizations working in the sector that you would like to enter and see if they would be interested in taking you on as a trainee. Even unsolicited applications can yield results. Remember: the worst they can do is say no.
It is also worth bearing in mind that you might be able to speed up the whole process depending on how closely aligned your desired new career is to your current one, you might be able to even move directly into it. If you have transferable skills and relevant experience, then you might be able to change careers more quickly than you had perhaps expected.
The pandemic has thrown us all kinds of unexpected curveballs. Amongst these curveballs are opportunities, including to change careers. In fact, almost nine-of-ten people who are happy in their current roles are considering changing careers. Surprisingly, this want is particularly high amongst those aged 55 and over.
The key to a successful career change is to start by doing a little homework. Look at how the jobs market looks in your desired sector. If finding an opening seems viable, then look at how to get into that sector.
Should you require training, then funding might well be available. However, your skills and experience might mean that you are able to enter a new career more quickly than expected.
The pandemic has thrown some curveballs. It just might be time to catch some of them.