Chances are you’ve been thinking about a career change for a long time. Working from home during COVID-19 has given you time to rethink your priorities and consider what you’d really like to do.
But making a career change during a pandemic has some major downsides including fears of not having a job albeit the job you want.
Getting Started – Take an inventory of your emotions
Start by taking an inventory of your emotions: Are you unhappy with your current job or are you looking at a complete career change. Sometimes a job change is triggered by dissatisfaction with the job you have now. You feel unappreciated, undervalued. Could it be a problem with your boss or how she treats you? Could it be a change in your view of your team? You may have discovered that your values no longer fit with the company culture.
Decide whether you are looking for another job because you’re unhappy in your current situation or disillusioned with the industry and what you are doing.
Wayne Gretzky, the famous hockey player (the Great One) once said “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” If you’re only looking at your current job and not where you want to be, you won’t be able to get where you want to be.
Envision where the puck is going to be, where you want to go. If this is still within the realm of your current situation you could explore a transfer to another department or a jump to another company in the same industry. If it’s not, maybe it is time to consider a career change.
Look back at what you did in Step One, Self-Awareness and Discovery. What kind of work gives you a sense of accomplishment, a sense of fulfillment? Is this kind of work available in your company, perhaps in an adjacent department. This is an opportune time to research your own company to find jobs that you might like. Connecting with other managers in those departments to ask about the status of their jobs, what they are working on, what they like about the department or division, will open a window into what you could expect should you land a job in that sector.
Looking for a job internally is not so different from a job search outside your company. It sill demands dogged research, contacting people you know, scheduling internal informational interviews to get as much information as you can and making sure they know who you are, and when appropriate, what you are seeking. Don’t forget that you need to navigate the company politics throughout your venture. You may not want word getting back to your own boss that you are looking for a change in venue.
What about a Career Change?
As you explore what you like to do and where you want to be, what happens if your discovery points toward making a career change? Remember that you want to focus on where you’re going to not what you want to leave. As Robin Pou, (https://www.robinpou.com/) an advisor and strategist who works with executives who are changing careers says, “Don’t focus on what you’re running from, figure out what you’re running toward…..Think more about what you want to do next – and why – than about what you’re trying to leave behind.”
You don’t want to be running from an unpleasant situation even it if it is an unpleasant situation; you want to be focused on what you want to do in your life with the skills and talents that you have.
Wayne Gretzky again. Eye on where the puck is going to be.
The Hard Work of Exploring Career Options
Researching new job opportunities and interviewing people who work in those companies is a job in itself. Because you are working remotely, you have the liberty of contacting people through text, email, and phone calls, to collect information on the company or job you’re researching. You want to position your inquiries as exploratory.
Pursuing a new job or a career change is hard work. You need to commit to the endeavor or not pursue it. Contacting prospective employers about their points of view and advice is a serious activity, one that is asking for their time and expertise. Don’t waste it.
Be considerate as you send emails or text messages. Realize that your targeted informational source may be in demand in his or her own job. If you know someone who knows him or her, ask your colleague to contact the individual for you and make an introduction. It increases the chances that that person will respond to your text or pick up the phone when you call.
Just as you did with your two-column Self-Awareness and Discovery table, prepare a chart that records your job pursuit activity, recording who you are targeting, who you contacted to help you reach that person, when you sent a text or email, etc. This will keep track of what you have done and the dates allowing you to follow up when appropriate and connect the dots between the people you have contacted.
It’s time to get started. We’ll check back in to discover what happens when you get that informational interview.