Careers advice: Career transitions in times of change

24 July 2020

Nobody could have predicted the worldwide impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the 2020 workforce and how this is affecting not only how we work but where we will be working.

Whether you are looking to begin your career, change your career, or looking for new opportunities, tackling this transition can sometimes be daunting. As difficult as it may be to look for a new job during a global crisis, there are still opportunities to be found for job hunters as new sectors emerge.

Step 1: Time for reflection

Times of transition can be an invitation to get curious about yourself and reflect on what is - and isn't - in alignment for your career. Therefore, crisis can in fact be an opportunity forus to pause and look deeply and honestly at the things we have been doing on a daily basis and really think if they play to our strengths.

If you want to revisit your strengths, our career management module is a useful refreshment for you to begin your reflection. Interactive exercises and engaging videos get you thinking deeply about yourself and what you want from your future career. You’ll be encouraged to reflect on exactly what it is that you want to change, to assess your personality, skills, strengths and preferences, and to investigate which careers might be the best fit for your strengths and values. You can also watch videos to learn from the experiences of other career changers and learn how to put what you’ve learned into practice including an area on ‘Dealing positively with redundancy.’ Module 14 on career transitions can be found here.

Being pushed into finding a new career or job can be actually empowering. It allows us to get curious about who we are and how you can do work that aligns with your purpose. I speak from personal experience as someone who has changed career four times in a career spanning over 40 years, each change building on the last and aligning with my skills and transferable experiences with what I most enjoy.

Look back at your career. Look at what made you really happy in your work - what some psychologists call ‘being in flow.' When you are ‘in flow’ you work at your optimum, demonstrating all the skills and capabilities you have with ease.

Step 2: Time to learn

Taking online classes gives you a chance to build transferable skills. As well as our career management module which covers many areas to assist you in your learning and transitioning to a new direction, our Succeeding Through Change webinar series is open to all alumni and focuses on leadership development, with topics being chosen specifically for their relevance to the current climate. Past sessions have included advice on mastering virtual interviews, and how to create a reputation in times of uncertainty.  

Online learning will put you on the right track for reflecting on your career progression and even help you consider new directions as you use your downtime to learn new skills and build your network.

Step 3: Time to be curious and do your research

Once you have really reflected on your strengths and career highlights, begin by thinking where else they would have a value; be bold and brave in your thinking. Do your research to explore how your background can add value. This is an opportunity for candidates to grow in their careers and add new skill sets and knowledge to their current backgrounds. As a job seeker you will undoubtedly need to be more flexible about what your new role may look like. While jobs have been lost in some areas, opportunities are rising in other industries. Think technology, digital entertainment, online learning, essential services, FMCG logistics and healthcare. These industries are all hiring and actively seeking candidates. As more employers are looking for transferable skills that can be applied to the position at hand, as a candidate you are afforded more opportunities in applying for roles and industries that interest you or play to your strengths, rather than those that solely align with your past experience.

Step 3: Time to craft your CV

There is much available to you to help in writing your CV. Our WBS module in the career management series will assist. But what is now more important as you look to transition is to do your research on companies hiring and the skills they are looking for. How can you craft a compelling profile that highlights your professional DNA and transferable skills? A common mistake made by many is to use the same CV for a number of applications, crafting a CV takes time and we are here to help you make yours standout. Don't hesitate to contact alumnicareers@wbs.ac.uk for assistance.

Step 4: Time to prepare

Landed an interview? Pre the ‘new normal’, candidates may have had to leave work early to make an interview or even take annual leave. Neither needs to happen now, if you're working from home. Zoom and Google Hangout are becoming the new interview platforms. This holds a great opportunity to be more prepared, comfortable, and personable during interviews. Check your home office space and make it presentable. Check your camera angle - no one wants to interview you as you look down on them from your camera lens with a clutter of books placed precariously on shelves behind you, or in a bedroom with an unmade bed. Consider the profile the company is looking for; how do your experiences and skills match up? Can you demonstrate that they are transferable?

Step 5: Time to be commercially savvy

Research, research, research. As  a former Director of Talent Acquisition for a global company, my biggest piece of advice for applicants was to make sure they had thoroughly researched not only the company but were commercially savvy in what was happening in the economic landscape and how this may impact on the company and competitors. Sadly, too few did and seemed stumped by such relatable questions at interview. Rigorously read company websites and breaking news, read financial news connect with movers and shakers and thought leaders and have a viewpoint so that you are able to bring this to mind at interview showing your commercial awareness.

Finally, be confident, curious and cognisant about yourself, your strengths and your value.

‘Be yourself, everyone else is taken’ - Oscar Wilde.

If you are a WBS alumni and would like some guidance, please don’t hesitate to email the careers team at alumnicareers@wbs.ac.uk.

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