Some industries are born to adapt, but for many, the changes brought on by months of shutdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic have been too much to weather, and the workforce has felt the impact.
While businesses have been scrambling to adjust to change, so must employees. Whether you are facing a forced career shift, or have taken this time as an opportunity to make a pivot, there are a few key tips to making the change a long term success.
Change, as you may have noticed, is a scary thing. Neuroscientists have identified that change and uncertainty actually register in our brain in the same way that error does. In essence, we see change in the same way we recognize a problem.
But change doesn’t have to be this scary thing. In fact, after years of coaching clients into new career paths, I have found change to be exciting and positive. The “problem” you think you have in your career may actually be an opportunity for something far better than you had before.
Here are some ways you can successfully pivot into a new career, and nail an interview, during a global pandemic.
1. Realize that your skills are applicable in more ways than one. In my coaching practice, I have come to realize that it isn’t the industry that you work in, it is often the function (the skill set and daily task execution) that brings you joy and fulfillment in work. In other terms, it’s the what of your job, the skills you’re using, not the industry you’re in, that truly matters.
For example, if you’re a data-driven person, consider how you might be able to apply that skill into a data entry or analyst position, ideally for an industry that is on the rise. If you have excellent interpersonal relationships, note that online account management or customer support jobs are booming. In the health sector, telehealth is another field that is rapidly growing, and according to a new survey conducted by Merrit Hawkins, nearly 50% of all physicians are treating patients virtually, up from 18% in 2018. Remember, depressions and recessions are still times of growth spurts for certain companies and industries. People are always hiring, regardless of the times we’re in…
Brick-and-mortar industries that are transitioning to a mainly online presence will need people to help set up their systems, manage customer relationships, build and develop their websites, and assist in organizing and managing their new business model. If your biggest transition will be from in-person employment to the digital workplace, it’s time to start analyzing your skill set and thinking about how you can adapt.
2. Communicate your relevant experience in any interview. Instead of focusing on your lack of experience in a new industry, let your prospective employer know what skills you’ve honed that cross over from one industry to another, and emphasize how that has helped you thrive in your previous environment.
For example, consider some skills that apply to all industries:
- Communication skills
- Problem solving
These non-technical skills are called soft skills, and they are extremely important, because they determine what kind of worker you are, regardless of the setting you’re in or tactical abilities you have.
Keep in mind that unemployment in the United States just hit 14.7% in April and 20.5 million jobs were lost in that month alone, so you won’t be the only person trying to reimagine your career at this time. Really focus on the similarities between jobs you’ve had in the past versus the jobs you want in the future. Your job is to tell a story for the recruiters you connect with, and make sense of your past for them, positioning it as an asset for the job you want in the future… For instance, you could say, “In my previous role I designed a programming solution to remediate a usability customer complaint which saved the business $500k in revenue. I am excited to see what problems I can help solve here.”
Always remember to be specific, results focused and quantifiable in what you share, when discussing your skills and experience. Note that you should pull stories or skills from the past that are relevant and useful for the skills being called forward for the job you want in the future. When you speak from a place of caring about the end result of the business a hiring manager will have a glimpse of where you focus lies.
Do your research on the company and position for which you’re applying so that you can also talk about them in the context of your skills and achievements from the past. Sit down and brainstorm examples of how your previous experience can cross pollinate into this job and industry. Grab a sheet of paper, and write down all the skills you used in the past jobs— and results you created because of them. Put a star next to the skills from the past that link to the job responsibilities of your future, and review this list before you walk into the interview, or even have a few notes jotted down in a notebook you bring with you for reference. The more prepared you can be walking into an interview, the better.
3. Have a salary in mind. Even though you might be new to this type of work, it doesn’t negate the years of time and effort you’ve put into yourself and your skill set. Be sure to take a look at average salary ranges in the market for a similar level of responsibility, before you walk in the door. Glassdoor has a “Know Your Worth” calculator that can be personalized to speak to specifics, such as your years of experience and level of education.
While it’s unusual for the first interview to descend into a money conversation, having an educated understanding of the job market compensation associated with your exact responsibilities and roles, is key. I communicate to my clients to approach salary conversations without emotion, in fact, I often joke to reply as though you are ordering a sandwich at subway- unemotional and matter of fact.
A great way to keep the salary conversation in control during a first interview, if it does come up, is to reply with the following statement, “I am negotiable depending up the range you’re offering for the position. My first priority is finding the right fit.” This keeps numbers at bay while really showing a genuine interest in being a good employee and fit within their team.
4. Familiarize yourself with online tools now.
If the internet has not been your “thing,” now is the time to learn the basics. There are plenty of online learning platforms, from MasterClass to Coursera to Lynda.com and more, to help you learn the ins and outs of essential tools such as Microsoft Office, Facebook and Google advertising, website development, and online meeting tools such as Zoom. These tools will be pivotal in most online roles, and learning how to use them beforehand will help demonstrate your drive and increase your competitiveness over someone who needs to get trained.
Review the job description and see if there are any programs listed or research what platforms the company uses for communication and project management. From here, begin to familiar yourself with the ones you haven’t used before. This way, when you go in for an interview you can speak honestly about your experience, “I noticed I hadn’t used this program before and started training myself on how to use it so when I step into the roll I am ready.”
This shows you’ve done your research, and you are already committed to the role.It is beyond comprehension how we have arrived at this point and time, but it’s crucial to remember during a time such as this all of the obstacles you’ve had to overcome to get to where you are now. There are many opportunities out there that can capitalize on a variety of skill sets, and now is the time to find a new fit for you that can lead to more fulfillment, a new challenge, and a bright future.
This change could be just what you needed.