Since the start of the year, millions of professionals have lost their jobs and competition for open roles has become extremely high, so how could this be the best time to consider a career switch?
Well, in some ways, for those exact reasons. If you’ve been paying attention the last few months, you’ve learned that:
- Job security is a myth (it always has been, but it’s much more evident now)
- The market is extremely dynamic and in-demand industries and skills change swiftly (again, not new, but the rate of change has increased even more)
- Even stellar performers are not protected from the negative impact of a crashing economy (nope, not new either, but perhaps this is the first time in your career you’re seeing that firsthand)
It’s exactly these three realities that should inspire you to consider your next career move. If you already love what you do, then focus on how to continuously reinvent your skills to morph with the changing market. But, if you’ve been dreaming of making a major career change, now may be the perfect time. Here’s why:
You’re already experiencing disruption. It may be in the form of a furlough, change in work responsibilities or virtual working environment, but one of the major reasons people don’t pursue a job switch is because humans dislike change, and more specifically, the discomfort and ambiguity that comes with change (even positive ones). But now that you’re being forced to change anyhow, this may be a great time to capitalize on that force and move in the direction that you’ve always wanted to go. No, it won’t be comfortable. No, it won’t be easy. Yes, it will be ambiguous. But so is your workplace and industry right now. So why not take the reins and create the future you want instead of being pulled along by a current that doesn’t much care where you end up?
The world is changing rapidly. Right now, it’s changing daily, and while that will level off eventually, we will never return to where we were before. If you choose the “safe” route and remain on the path you’ve been on, it may only be a matter of time before you hit a dead-end. What’s been working for your career for the last several years will not work for the next several, so you need to decide if you want to begin carving your new path now, or wait for fate to dump you out into an area of chance.
You have time. While this doesn’t apply to everyone, if it applies to you, it’s a fantastic opportunity to take advantage of. If you’re not commuting and have extra time to learning new skills, take online certification courses, earn that degree or start your side gig - what are you waiting for? The pandemic has thrown us all for a major and unprecedented loop, but it will end, and you may never get a chance like this again in your lifetime. Stop waiting for things to return to normal because “normal” doesn’t look anything like you remember it. Instead, seize this moment to focus on what you’ve always wanted to do. Really, what have you got to lose right now? And if not now, then you have to wonder what the heck it would take to catapult you into action, and if you really want to make a shift or just prefer the mental escape you experience during the dream.
Gaps are explainable. There will likely never be another year in your professional history like 2020 where you won’t need to explain away a gap on your resume or a layoff from a company. The global pandemic has impacted the world, so you will face many sympathetic interviewers who understand what you were facing in your career history during this time. So use that gift and take a risk on a new career that you’ve always wanted to try. Yes, your brain wants to keep you “safe” in the status quo, but what IS the status quo anymore? It really doesn’t exist. So, while you may be clinging to anything that feels remotely secure right now because so much has changed, it’s important to recognize that it can shift again at a moment’s notice and you’ll be free falling through to the next abyss. Take control of your next step and no matter how it turns out, chances are that it won’t be any worse than many have experienced already this year, and you can definitely handle it.
Agility is king. No matter what your expertise or profession, adaptability is the most important skill of the future, and there’s no better way to build that skill than to hop off of the ledge and dive into the deep end of the pool. Agility, resilience and creativity aren’t skills you can learn under ordinary, everyday circumstances - they are only attainable during advertsity, and the more extreme, the more you flex and grow. Right now, we have adversity in spades. Make good use of it and spread your adaptability wings. You can’t know how strong you are until your strength is tested at the outer limits, and it’s unlikely you’ll get another chance like this in your lifetime to test your professional agility.
If not now, when? Humans resist change with every fiber of their being. It’s uncomfortable, anxiety-provoking, ambiguous and hard. I’ve met so many would-be career switchers who were too afraid to walk away from the reputation, salary, comfy lifestyle and identity they had built because they feared mistakes, embarrassment or loss. Well, mistakes are inevitable on the path to growth, embarrassment is when you give others the power to shame you, and loss is a part of every change (as are gains). So, the things you fear about change (except for embarrassment, since that’s a choice) are just the standard building blocks. If a switch has been on your mind, if not now, then when? Regrets are painful and lingering. And, most people regret what they haven’t done more than what they have done, so consider that when you look back on this moment of choice. You may never have the time, opportunity, and understanding available like we have today.
So, if you’ve been waiting for a sign, excuse or nudge to get started on your career switch, it’s happening right this very moment. So go for it - you’ve got this!