Issue 15

Considering a Career Change During a Pandemic?

The pandemic has left a large number of the UK population struggling for work, put on furlough or feeling anxious about the future of their jobs and careers. Many industries, in particular, the creative, arts and events based industries have struggled alongside hospitality, retail and more to flourish whilst coronavirus has taken hold. 

Back in October, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, suggested that some people whose work had been affected by COVID should consider ‘fresh and new opportunities.’ In an interview with ITV News he said that ‘in all walks of life, everyone is having to adapt’.  

“I can’t pretend that everyone can do exactly the same job they were doing at the beginning of this crisis.”

Rishi Sunak

Around the same time, the government launched a campaign aimed at people working in the arts to ‘reskill’ by turning to a career in cyber. The infamous advert featured the image of a ballet dancer tying her shoes, with the caption: 

The now recalled advert

“Fatima’s next job could be in cyber, she just doesn’t know it yet.” The slogan of the campaign was: ‘Rethink. Reskill. Reboot.’

Critics of the advert said it was in extremely bad taste considering the thousands of jobs being lost in the culture sector and was seen as highly insensitive to those in the arts. 

After the culture secretary spoke out, agreeing with the public that the advert was ‘crass’, the advert campaign was subsequently pulled. Instead, the government’s National Careers Service website launched a website to help people find new career paths, by taking a skills assessment test. 

Unfortunately, this website hasn’t generated much more confidence in the rethink, reskill, reboot campaign that the government are promoting with people reporting the absurd and farfetched jobs being suggested to them on the website such as ‘Boxing,’ ‘Professional Sportsperson’ and ‘Actor.’ 

So, what if you are actually looking to change your career during the pandemic?

According to NBC News, 61% of women are looking to change careers amid COVID-19. And many are looking for a new direction. 

Before considering a career change, it’s worth questioning the reasoning behind how you feel. 

  1. Do you want to change your career, or has working during a pandemic changed how you feel about your job/industry?

Making a big change in your career at this time is risky, so it needs to be well thought through, planned and executed. 

The first thing to do is to question why you’re currently unhappy. Is it because you’re working from home and it’s made it unenjoyable? Have their been changes to your role that have come about due to the pandemic that could potentially go back to normal in the future? Is this a temporary feeling that could be rectified?

2. Are you looking to change career, or get a new job following the same career path?

Before considering a brand new track, remember that feeling unhappy in your current job doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to change your career entirely. Being honest with the exact reasons you’re being made to feel as though you want to leave the industry will help you decide whether it’s a new company you are looking for or a new career altogether. 

3. If you have decided to change your career … what are you looking for?

Before launching yourself into retraining, upskilling and looking at entering a new industry it’s worth drawing up a list of what you’re looking for in a new career. Having a list of goals or expectations that you have will help shape the career you’d like to create and help you work towards it. 

You can take the experience you already have and the skills you have collected over the years and apply them to a new career. This way, rather than completely starting from scratch you have a base to begin from. 

4. Take stock of your mental health and emotions 

The pandemic has taken its toll on all of us and you may be going through a range of feelings and emotions that you want to address before embarking on a career change. 

There is no right or wrong way to feel at this time, but it’s important, to be honest with how you are feeling right now. Feeling down, unmotivated and unproductive at this time is completely normal. And separating your feelings about what is happening right now with what is happening in your job role and how the pandemic is impacting you is important. 

In summary, there is no wrong or right answer when it comes to considering a career change during these uncertain times. But it is important to do the research and organise your next steps in a way that safeguards your future. 

Useful Links:

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/oct/12/ballet-dancer-could-reskill-with-job-in-cyber-security-suggests-uk-government-ad

https://www.nbcnews.com/know-your-value/feature/61-women-are-looking-change-careers-amid-covid-19-here-ncna1241808

https://www.educationdevelopmenttrust.com/our-research-and-insights/commentary/should-you-be-using-furlough-to-consider-a-career-

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