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COVID-19 has impacted the career paths and job prospects for so many people. Sadly, some industries and professions have been wiped out and won’t exist for a very long time or will look very different for many years to come.
A common conversation we are having with people who have lost their job or who can see the writing on the wall and are trying to look for a new opportunity is about the challenge of changing careers.
The most commonly asked questions are:
- How do I change career path or change industries?
- What and how can I use my skills in another line of work?
- How can I avoid being pigeon-holed when I only have this type of experience?
- What other jobs exist out there that I could be interested in and enjoy?
- What types of jobs are available at the moment and what skills do they need?
If you are thinking about a change of career, regardless of if it has come as the result of COVID-19 or not, here is our 4 step approach to help you start the transition process.
1. Skills and Experience Audit
The most important thing to do first, before you even start working on getting your resume up to date and applying for jobs, is to take a step back and undertake an audit of your existing skills and experience. The purpose is to clearly understand what you have in your tool bag to offer another employer. Don’t worry about the type of job you want to apply for or are interested in, just simply focus for the time being on listing all the skills and experience you currently have.
Write down these skills and experience and where possible focus on the skill that is needed to perform the task as opposed to listing the task you can perform.
The task you are good at is: Selling
The skill we have to be good at to be able to sell might be: building relationships, influencing, problem solving, verbal communication.
When we focus on the task, we list the task in our resume, we talk about the task at interview but if the new position we are trying to transition to doesn’t require you to sell we are pitching the wrong message. Instead we need to change the focus to the skill and highlight the skill/s we have to offer instead of the experience we have in performing the task.
2. Satisfiers and Motivators
Once we understand our skills, we need to understand what it is we actually take joy and satisfaction from doing. If we stick with the selling example, there is no point promoting our skills in building relationships, influencing, problem solving or verbal communication, if we actually don’t enjoy using those skills. Understanding what it is that makes us feel like we have had a good day (or a bad day – as it is equally important to understand the dis-satisfiers) is critical in ensuring that when we make our career change we have the best chance of enjoying the work we are doing. This step in the career change process can be the hardest as I urge you to really challenge your thinking.
For example: Many people answer this question with ‘I get satisfaction from helping people.’ This is a great first step in understanding your motivators. The next step is to unpack what helping people really means to you.
In my role as a recruiter I love helping people find their potential and take the next step in their career. I would be terrible at helping people as a nurse in a medical/health environment, hence understanding what it is about helping people that gives you satisfaction is critically important.
3. Mapping your Skills and Motivators
Now that you have a much clearer understanding of you, what makes you tick and what you have to offer a business in another line of work or another industry it’s time to do some job mapping and match your skills and motivators to opportunities in the market. There are a couple of ways you can do this; check out current job adverts on job boards and compare your skills and motivators list to what the job has to offer (don’t focus on the title of the job, be sure to hone in on the actual tasks you will be performing and the skills required to perform those tasks) or you can work with a career coach who has a really good understanding of the labour market and the job opportunities that exist.
4. Gap Analysis
As you start to identify positions that align with your skills and motivators it’s important to see if there are any gaps that are going to hold you back from being able to transition to that type of job or progress down that new career path. These are things like qualifications, licences and tickets, or other skills that seem to be a common requirement for a particular job. Once you have identified your gaps you can determine if it is realistic to be able to overcome these gaps (get the qualification, licence or gain the experience), how essential it is to overcome these gaps (some gaps might be preferred but not essential) and if you want to overcome the gap (do you have the appetite to return to study for the next 4 years?).
Once you have completed the four-step process it’s time to hone your resume to focus on what you have identified, particularly from steps 1 and 2 and then start the job application process. While it might seem like a lot of work, it is definitely an investment of time and energy that is well spent. The biggest complaint I hear from people applying for jobs is that they have sent hundreds of applications and have had no response. If this is you, be honest with yourself, what efforts have you taken to demonstrate your transferable skills and your motivation for wanting the jobs you have applied for? Chances are if you are flicking off applications here, there and everywhere you are the one that is pigeon-holing yourself and not highlighting what it is you truly have to bring to the role. There are lots of people applying for jobs right now, the competition is tough so it’s time to make sure you stand out from the crowd.
Angela Connor is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource and career coaching companies. She understands the significance of having the right team of people in a business and is passionate about helping business to attract, recruit and engage the right people so those people can inject their talents into the business; creating an environment where they can do great work and love what they do. Find more useful information and advice at www.inspirehq.com.au or by following Angela on LinkedIn.
Disclaimer: The material contained in this publication is of a general nature only. It is not, nor is intended to be, legal advice. If you wish to act based on the content of this publication, we recommend that you seek professional advice.