Reshaping your career

With all the talk of the ‘new normal’, some employees may be considering a career change. A strategic approach is key
by Jules Gray

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Since the pandemic began, furlough, reduced hours, remote working, and job losses have impacted workers across the world. As we emerge from lockdowns and businesses attempt to return to normal, many workers will be looking at their careers and asking themselves if it’s time for a change.

You may be looking to alter your career path, or just feel like a change of scene, but it’s important to have a plan in place so that you have the best chance of getting a new role. It’s also important to recognise just how much the world of work has changed over the last year.

How we work has changed

Dorie Clark is a marketing strategist, author and teacher at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, and Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic is professor of business psychology at University College London and Columbia University and chief talent scientist at ManpowerGroup. In an article for the Harvard Business Review, they outline ways in which the world of work has changed.

First, how people work has been transformed, with homeworking now the standard in jobs that were previously office-based. While some workers have “thrived in a remote working environment and never want to go back” to the office, others have struggled, missing the social interactions with colleagues that they enjoyed before, say the authors.

However, they cite a study by Pennsylvania State University’s Ravi S Gajendran and David A Harrison that shows that remote work is “mostly beneficial – improving not just productivity and job satisfaction, but also families”.

Staff churn

As a result of these changes, many workers will now expect more freedom in the future around where and when they work. How bosses respond will be key. While some have increased flexible working conditions for their employees, some might hope for a return to the pre-pandemic routine. But according to Clark and Chamorro-Premuzic, referring to a recently published report by workplace platform provider Envoy, nearly half of employees surveyed would quit their jobs if flexible working was no longer an option.

This is backed up by a recent study by Aviva, cited in a People Management article by Jessica Brown, that suggests “three in five UK workers intend to make changes to their careers as a result of the pandemic”.

The Aviva study of 4,000 workers finds that 60% plan to “make changes such as switching careers, learning a new skill or finding a new role within their existing organisation”, writes Brown. It finds that people aged between 25 and 34 are most likely to “retrain or pursue a completely different career”.

Making the leap

If you are set on leaving your current job, there is plenty of advice on how to do so strategically. Writing for job site Indeed, career coach Emma Esparza says that you should perform a self-evaluation to decide exactly what you want from your career. She advises asking yourself questions that include whether changing careers is the right answer to your problems and if now is the right time.

The next step, says Esparza, is to perform a “professional audit”, identifying your soft and hard skills, skills you want to improve, career highlights, tasks you enjoy performing, and any “core values and non-negotiables”.

Reshaping your career will also require reshaping your CV, so that it best reflects your “transferable skills in a way that relates to your new role”, adds Esparza. She suggests creating a general CV for the new job search that can be easily tailored for specific roles.

Once that is done, researching the types of jobs you want to do begins. “Pay close attention to the requirements and duties of jobs so you can evaluate whether the career would align with your skills, interests and values,” she says. She also suggests focusing on jobs where “you meet at least 60% of the qualifications with your transferable skills” so that you are applying for roles where you have a good chance of success.

It’s also important, says Esparza, to be persistent, setting weekly application goals and keeping your interviewing skills fresh.

Network effects

Another area that could help is your professional network. According to Clark and Chamorro-Premuzic in the Harvard Business Review article, networking events are likely to see a big resurgence post-lockdown. “After a year of isolation in which it’s been harder to meet new people, it’s likely that many professionals are hungry to build new connections,” they write.

The importance of fostering existing and new connections will be helpful to anyone seeking a new career, adds Esparza, in the Indeed article. “One of the best ways to improve is by learning from others’ experiences. You might be surprised by how many people are willing to give you a lead for a job, helpful advice or words of encouragement," she says.

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Published: 28 May 2021
  • Soft Skills
  • networking
  • Recruitment
  • job-hunting
  • new normal
  • Career advice

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