If you’re thinking of a career change because you feel your role is no longer the right fit or the opportunities in your specialist sector are dwindling – you’re not alone.
A large chunk of professionals have found themselves in the same boat and have overhauled their career triggered by the pandemic, according to research from TopCV.
Amanda Augustine, careers expert at the CV writing service, says: ‘Whether Covid-19 forced certain individuals to look for work in different industries or it ultimately prompted others to reconsider their work-lives and seek a change, we’ve seen a noticeable uptick in professionals making career pivots over the past year, and that trend has continued into 2021.’
If you think you need a complete career change there are smart changes you can make to your CV to ensure you’re taken seriously by your potential employer
Many of those who made a career change did so as a result of the impact Covid-19 had on their jobs – 75 per cent said the pandemic had altered their career plans, a survey by the firm suggested.
In addition, almost half of those affected said that recent events cause them to reflect on what they wanted from their career or employer and made them seek out other opportunities.
Considering an entirely new career can be a daunting experience but there are things you can do to make the transition and the job-hunting experience easier.
1. Explore your options and do some research
Steve Warnham says people could get up-skilled through the Lifetime Skills Guarantee
TopCV says some industries have suffered more during the pandemic than others.
Take a look at the job boards and contact those in your network to get a better understanding of who is hiring and what skills are in demand.
Take some time at the beginning of your job search to sort out what you want in your next job.
Steve Warnham, job expert at Totaljobs, says: ‘Employers are looking at other sectors to recruit people.
‘For example, we’ve seen how the social care industry are recruiting from the hospitality sector where people have lost jobs.
‘Front of house skills where you deal with people daily, where you need to be considerate and attentive is sought out in an industry like social care.’
2. Network (digitally)
Traditional networking events may not be possible right now, but that shouldn’t stop you from reconnecting with old contacts, meeting new people that work in your desired industry or sector, attending informal interviews and virtual job fairs using programs like Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
TopCV says: ‘In addition to helping you uncover unpublished opportunities and new job-search resources, your network can also help you understand how your qualifications could be best leveraged in a different field or sector.’
Marketing to… surf photography
Paul David Smith (pictured) became a surf photographer after he lost his job in marketing
Paul David Smith, 37, says his networking with surfers landed him business as a surf photographer. Before March last year he was a marketing manager for a label print business in Peterborough.
He says: ‘My job disappeared due to Covid and over the last year I moved to Cornwall and now work as a surf photographer.’
He says that when he moved to Cornwall there was no plan to be a surf photographer initially. But he practiced taking shots of surfers, showed them the pictures and sent them the images for free.
‘I knew giving them away for free to start with would mean they’d be likely to post them on social media… meaning other surfers would see them.
‘That’s exactly what happened, the pictures got posted on Cornwall surf groups and I got tagged in them, which led to a trickle of enquiries for 1-2-1 surf photography sessions.
‘I no longer have people follow me out of the water to give me their email address, I now have waterproof silicone bands with my details on which I can just hand to surfers if I’m out in the water and capture great shots of them.’
3. Find your bridge
TopCV says it’s important to find your ‘bridge,’ — a common denominator between your previous experience and your new career direction.
A spokesperson for TopCV says: ‘For instance, you might target organisations which cater to a similar customer base or geographic region, work in a complementary industry or interact with a similar group of vendors, in addition to capitalising on some of the top skills you’ve honed over the years.’
Look for online courses that will help brush up on your skills or qualifications. Many are free.
For example, the Government has as of this month launched its Lifetime Skills Guarantee, which offers almost 400 qualifications ranging from engineering, social care and conservation.
Warnham says: ‘It’s early days but the LSG does have the ability to be brilliant and skills achieved through the courses are sought after by employers.
‘They even offer a skills bootcamp which come with an interview at the end and a potential job offer.’
What is the Lifetime Skills Guarantee?
From the 1 April, an estimated 11 million adults will have access to almost 400 qualifications backed by £95million in government funding as part of its Lifetime Skills Guarantee.
The Government says: ‘Adults who take up the free courses have the potential to boost their career prospects, wages and help fill skills gaps, while supporting the economy and building back better.’
But not all qualify for the LSG. Totaljobs says that over a million adults will lose out on the benefits of the scheme as it’s not available to those that hold a level 3 qualification (A-level or similar).
Totaljobs points out that unemployment among mid-career workers who hold a level 3 qualification went up by 35 per cent over 2020 (from 90,000 in October-December 2019 to 121,000 in October-December 2020).
Jon Wilson, chief executive of Totaljobs says: ‘The Lifetime Skills Guarantee is a great concept which has the potential to give a career leg up to thousands of adults.
‘However, the right support needs to be in place to allow the scheme to reach its full potential, and more needs to be done to help those who can’t access it.’
5. Adapt your CV
Andrew Hunter, co-founder of global job search engine Adzuna says: ‘Carefully analyse job descriptions for roles you’re interested in applying for to identify the key skills and requirements. Then, make sure to play back these skills within your CV.
‘But don’t just repeat the key words from the job description, you should also add examples of how you’ve demonstrated these traits.
‘Ticking off the key words will help make sure your CV lands on the desk of the recruiter or hiring manager and isn’t filtered out by hiring software. Demonstrating clear examples will help to get you an interview.’
There are tools that could help to ensure you’ve got it right.
For example, TopCV offer a few professional review to ensure your CV is positioned for success. Meanwhile, Totaljobs offers jobseekers using its site a career changers CV template and a list of courses available under the LSG.
6. Don’t be embarrassed about being furloughed
Hunter explains: ‘Don’t be afraid of an empty space on your CV. If you’ve been made redundant or furloughed due to the pandemic, it’s not your fault and you don’t need to cover it up.
‘Any employer worth their salt will understand how challenging the last year has been for many.
‘Instead, highlight any courses you’ve done over this time, any side hustles or freelance work you may have had, or any relevant business books you may have read. It’s better to be up front and positive about CV gaps.
7. Showcase your leadership skills
A growing number of jobs adverts are asking for leadership skills like coaching, onboarding and decision making.
Hunter says: ‘Job hunters seeking top tier pay packets should demonstrate their leadership experience, first and foremost, to stand out from the crowd.
‘Not been a boss? You’ve probably used leadership skills in everyday life. Maybe you’ve helped out a neighbour during Covid-19 or have spent time home-schooling.
‘Think creatively about how you’ve used your natural leadership and communication skills over the last year and highlight these examples.’
8. Consider being coached
You could hire a professional careers coach to advise you but there are free services too.
For example, Momenta Group, the London based contingent resourcing firm, has partnered with the Big Issues Ride Out Recession Alliance to launch a free hotline where recruitment professionals offer support, a CV review and re-employability coaching.
Founder of Momenta Group, Richard Stevens, says: ‘We know there are many unemployed due to the pandemic who have not been in the employment market for years, and will need a refresh, review and a friendly coach to support their journey back to work.
‘We look forward to playing our role in The Big Issue’s relevant and impactful RORA initiative.’
By Angelique Ruzicka
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