What to consider if you're thinking of changing careers because of the COVID-19 crisis

Lydia Smith
Writer, Yahoo Finance UK
Two thirds of workers are rethinking their career choices, according to new research. (Getty)

When our lives are thrown off kilter by an unexpected event, it can lead us to re-evaluate our choices and think hard about what matters. So it’s no wonder that many of us are considering changing careers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Two thirds of workers are rethinking their career choices, according to new research from Totaljobs, with one in five of those not currently working due to the virus using this time to plan, search for, and find a new career in a different industry.

With so many people furloughed or made redundant, changing careers or jobs isn’t always a choice. But those considering a career change are also being driven by other factors too, including a desire to learn new skills or challenge themselves, gain a better work-life balance, or have increased job security. 

“Looking at our key workers and the heroic jobs they do on a daily basis has caused many professionals to question whether they feel a sense of purpose in their jobs,” says Matt Lewis, director of public services at the recruitment firm Hays.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Why it's easy to burnout during lockdown

“There’s no one size fits all when it comes to leading a purposeful career, but we’ve certainly seen more professionals seek opportunities which fulfil this in one way or another.

“Many of us who have had the opportunity to work remotely might also be enjoying the extra time and flexibility that this brings. As such, this has now shifted to being a top priority for professionals and many are looking for jobs which afford them this greater flexibility on a permanent basis.”

Changing careers is never an easy process, but it can be even harder to dive into a new venture at a time when nothing is certain. So what should we consider if we want to do something new after the crisis has subsided?

“Many professionals have used additional time as a result of working remotely or being placed on furlough leave to pick up some new skills either personally or professionally,” Lewis says. 

“This may have changed their skill profiles or even opened new opportunities which weren’t available before. If you’ve acquired some new expertise you should feel encouraged to capitalise on this when changing career by highlighting it on your CV or seeing how you could incorporate this skill into a new role.”

Looking into the future of your career might seem daunting at the moment, but it’s important to do your research. Not all businesses are in a position to hire currently — and it may take a long time for some industries to recover from the economic downturn triggered by COVID-19. It’s important to consult an expert on the industries and sectors that are either more resilient or are likely to grow as we emerge from lockdown.

“Industries including social care, logistics, IT, retail and engineering have seen a surge in demand for staff as a result of COVID-19,” Jon Wilson, CEO of Totaljobs, said in a statement.

READ MORE: Why coronavirus is fuelling an economic crisis that will hit women the hardest

“The need to adapt to the current situation means many businesses have had to speed up their recruitment process and quickly train new staff up so they can begin work. By tapping into new talent pools from industries full of workers with transferable skills, businesses are more likely to see new staff hit the ground running.”

Times might be hard now, but it’s not all bad news. According to the TotalJobs research, 7% of those polled have already started work in a different industry after being displaced by the pandemic. Of these, 67% believe the skills they already had were of use. As a result, the same number believe they now have a better understanding of the value of their skillset.

Although COVID-19 may have forced many businesses to hit pause for now, they will need to continue plugging skills shortages in the future. “By looking out for transferable skills rather than a certain amount of experience in your industry, employers will find fresh talent with new perspectives who also have the relevant skills for success,” Wilson added.

⁠Careers clinic