- Date : 08/07/2020
- Read: 6 mins
If you’ve been wanting to change your career for a while, the ongoing pandemic can provide just the nudge you need!
In India, 18 is when a person legally attains the age of majority – that is, becomes an adult. Before that, you can neither vote nor drive. The legal drinking age comes around even later – 21 or 25, depending on your state of residence. As for the minimum legal age for marriage, it’s 18 for women and 21 for men.
Clearly, the maturity needed to make important life decisions and bear the consequences comes only when we are practically out of our teens. And yet, it’s at the young age of 15 or 16 that we’re forced to decide on the career path we want to take, and choose between science, commerce, and the arts. Isn’t it crazy that a decision you make as a teenager is something you have to live with for the rest of your life?
Unless you don’t.
Now, with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, job uncertainty is a looming threat for all, irrespective of industry or job title. You may have lost your job or suffered a pay cut, or know someone who has. It’s hard, financially and otherwise, to go through such an upheaval. But perhaps it can also be a silver lining. This situation can be just the push you need to consider changing your career.
In normal circumstances, the situation may have been too comfortable and stable for you to want to risk a job switch. But now, when things are already uncertain, the stakes are low and the opportunity to explore is real. But there are a few things you need to consider first.
1. Revisit your motives
If you have been thinking about switching jobs before the pandemic, you would already have your reasons in place. However, now is a good time to revisit them. Is it because you find absolutely no joy in your current role? Is it to earn more money? Or is it because you’ve finally found your calling? It’s important to understand if your motives for switching careers are lasting and not merely situational. For instance, if you hate your boss or want a raise, it may be better to consider switching companies instead of job roles. When you’re clear about the ‘why’, it will help to be a grounding force when things get difficult, as they naturally will when you’re making such a life-changing decision.
2. Chart out multiple paths
You may be very sure of your future career path, but it’s wise to chart out a few alternatives. For instance, if you want to teach online, consider starting your own business, setting up a website with friends, applying to an existing teaching platform, or partnering with an NGO. Start with something that appeals to you, but in case that doesn’t work out, you will have plans B, C, and D to fall back on. If there is one thing that coronavirus has taught the world, it’s that uncertainty may just become the new normal.
3. Rethink the private sector
Did your parents always praise government jobs for their stability and urge you to apply for one, while you tried explaining to them that all the money is in the private sector? You had a point, but with the current pandemic, it may be time to reconsider your choice. Economists have found that those with a government job or relying on a pension were better off during the Great Depression of the last century. If you’re in your 20s and just beginning your career, don’t sneer at a ‘staid’ government job; It just might offer stability and security in terms of both income and job role.
4. Beware of the lure of IT
An extension of the charm associated with the private sector, the lure of IT/ITeS is also something you should be cautious about. A basic engineering degree and coding skills are no longer enough in a depressed market that is forcing MNCs to cut costs by eliminating less skilled personnel. Attaining a leadership role, getting an MBA, or switching to another industry – you need to start thinking ‘what next?’ before you find yourself in an industry where your skills are considered obsolete.
5. Talk to people in the industry
No matter how good you are at online research, it will never benefit you as much as talking to people first-hand. Connect with people you already know, such as friends and family, who work in the industry you want to switch to. If you don’t know of any, look at your LinkedIn network and mutual friends. You will be able to get helpful insights and a good picture of what it’s like – the pros, the cons, and the expectations. You’ll also get an idea of the kind of personality and soft skills required for the job and whether you’re a good fit.
6. Seek out relevant experience
Recall how online apps and streaming services offer you a free trial period so you can decide whether to pay for the service or not? You need to have such a trial period in the career you’re looking to switch to, before you actually make the leap. Internships and volunteer work are the best options to explore a new role without too much stress or pressure, irrespective of your age. For instance, if you want to switch to digital marketing, offer to assist a professional on a project. The work-from-home option is catching on worldwide, and there are many opportunities you can explore.
7. Review your finances
This is the most crucial thing to consider. There are multiple scenarios that can pan out when you switch careers. You could be offered an entry-level job with significantly lower pay – after all, while you may have plenty of work experience, none of it need be in this particular field. Alternatively, depending on the nature of the industry, your new income may be less than your current one. Coronavirus is unlikely to go away anytime soon, so the uncertainty and the economic slowdown will be around for a while, and you need to have enough savings to pay the bills and put food on the table. So rework your budget, reduce discretionary spends, change your investment strategies, and keep enough liquid cash handy.
Finally, it’s essential to assess your current skills and then upskill. Take an online course, read non-fiction books, pick up new skills, or qualify for relevant diplomas/certifications. It’s also a good time to be receptive to opportunities that may open up not only in other industries but also in other cities. Look at these 6 Soft skills that can help you grow in your career.