For over 190M professionals recently laid-off and more employers are looking into downsizing, a career change at this point is pretty wild. What started out as a health pandemic is now seemingly a long-lasting set of obstacles for every one of us to stay afloat. The job market itself went from awesome to awful overnight but even with this, experts are positive that technical/soft skills and roles needed in the future won’t likely change.

We can all agree that the pandemic continues to present challenges. But has also provided us with unique opportunities for those who want to change their careers. The workforce has been forced to adapt to the changes. New work arrangement such as work from home has been the best option so far.

So if you are someone who wants to make a career change now, here are a few tips:

Worry less and focus on your strategy

Worrying can lead to making the wrong decisions and act on impulse. When people see a job posting, they immediately apply as fast as they can without focusing on quality. If you are someone working from home, weigh the pros and cons of the new work environment and change in the organization’s policies first.

However, if you have been furloughed or laid-off recently, come up with a plan. It can be a 30 to a 90-day plan showing you a 360-view of the direction of your career change. List all the organizations you want to work for and check their job openings. Sign up with their newsletter so you can get exclusive news every now and then. After that, see who you can connect within that organization and leverage your connection. Factor in your network in your strategy so you can optimize your job search.

Remember that there are millions of people looking for a job now and simply passing in an application can land in the weeds amongst others. Update your LinkedIn profile, revisit your job board profile, and make sure they are accurate. Consult experts or career coaches to check your CV ensuring that you’re putting information that is relevant to the job.

Just like having a job, without proper planning or a (road)map, it’s difficult to navigate and get a sense of direction. Take this time to rethink the possibilities of your current job or your future career trajectory.

Assess your skills; reskill if necessary

Be honest with yourself when evaluating your skills. A career change will take months to years depending on the skills and corresponding certifications you would need. COVID-19 doesn’t have an endgame and all you can do is determine what skills and traits you already possess as of now.

The skills in the international development sector that are required to succeed in the workplace are changing rapidly. Employers in this sector believe that there is a shortage of talents who possess specific skills in the workspace. Here are the top 10 soft and technical skills that are sought-after:

  • Data-driven, evidence-based programming and delivery
  • Impact measurement and evaluation
  • Technology integration
  • Fundraising and resource mobilization
  • Learning and knowledge management
  • Leadership, planning, strategy, and coaching
  • Empathy and cross-cultural sensitivity
  • Problem-solving
  • Flexibility/Adaptability
  • Conflict resolution

Ask your organization if there are available reskilling programs that can help your career change. If there are none, find remote learning opportunities available on LinkedIn, Coursera, edX. Technology advancement has been aiding remote work opportunities and online learning materials for so long. Use them to your advantage so you can transfer your newly acquired skill to your next job.

Related article: Top Professional Soft Skills that Organizations Find Valuable in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Be flexible with your career change

COVID-19 is also known as the new normal topped with uncertainty. It has dramatically changed the way we work in the recent past.  Several countries are opening their economies and slowly easing with their lockdown restrictions. There are still jobs available in the market but there has also been a pause in hiring for talents in some organizations.

Interviews are still happening here and there. And when new markets emerge, more organizations will be needing talents. It’s important to be flexible about the role and your expectation towards landing your dream job.

Anticipate that more organizations will be needing skills that haven’t been tapped before. Talents who approach their job with a flexible mindset are more likely to be highly valued by recruiters. You want to be that kind of person — the one who continues to modify his/her approach to certain tasks and demands depending on each situation.

Agile mindset

Career change is an iterative process in this day and age. The agile methodology can not only be applied to project management but even towards how you strategize career change. It provides rhythm and cadence especially when things are ambiguous. Having a pattern to follow can help you strategize faster and accurately.

With this mindset, you can make quick adjustments to how you want to make the career change efficiently in case unpredictable situations arise — as they do regularly during this crisis. Break the plan into smaller units so when plans don’t go well, you can still shift your plan to a better one because you’ve planned them in smaller portions.

Just like its word, agile is all about making decisions quickly. It reinforces reviews and retrospection when things go wrong. You have time to pause, reflect, and ensure that you are adapting.

When are you planning to make that pivotal decision? Organizations will still be hiring regardless of the circumstances but they will for sure take more precautions than normal. The hiring process may have not drastically changed; video interviews are becoming more normal for recruiters.

Society for Human Resource Management President and CEO Johnny C Taylor Jr strongly believes that now is not the best time to take on a break when looking for a job. You may feel wanting to resist the uncomfortable and ambiguous situation but if not now, when?

Just because we have to approach things differently this time, it doesn’t mean that we put our plans on hold. Whether you’re someone who feels stuck at his job or someone who has been laid-off, it’s still important to time your career change and approaches it with an agile mindset.

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