Career change in a Covid-19 climate can be daunting but these career coaches’ advice will help you make that jump.
Doesn’t it feel like we’re stuck in a dystopian series that doesn’t seem to end? Ever since Covid-19 came swooping in like a virus-shaped comet, it has quickly forced us to rethink how we live and work. With change being the central theme in the past year, it’s only natural to think of switching careers, learning new skills or simply seeking out greener pastures. But the thought of climbing up the corporate ladder amidst a pandemic can be daunting. So we decided to speak to three career coaches for tips on how to change careers right now.
Career change during Covid-19
Let’s address the elephant in the room first: why are people considering a career change in this Covid-19 climate?
Adrian Choo, CEO and founder of Career Agility International and the host of the weekly Happy@Work segment on OneFM91.3’s The Big Show, mentions reskilling. It’s no secret that upgrading your job skills will help in your career trajectory. But in a Covid-19 world, it has become pertinent.
“There has been a shift in demand for certain skills, reflecting changes in the industries. Travel, hospitality and F&B have declined in 2020 and hence, skills demanding from these sectors have decreased. As a result, many had to reskill and switch jobs into different industries and roles,” says Choo.
Sandra Quelle, founder of The Happy Mondays Co., thinks that working from home might be one of the reasons why people are switching jobs. As people spend more time at home with their family and loved ones, the WFH situation has “opened an opportunity to look inside and reevaluate our priorities or to look and understand what really matters to us.”
Gerald Tan, projects director of Avodah People Solutions, echoes Quelle and Choo’s sentiments. “People who are in affected industries and businesses have no choice but to explore changing jobs. With Covid-19, the fragility of employment and what it means became even obvious and this led to more people asking deeper questions about their employment, especially if they are feeling unhappy, stagnant and disengaged at work.
Revise your resume
Now that you’ve decided to make the change, it’s time to zhush up your resume. These days, that piece of documentation can make or break your career prospects.
According to Quelle, studies show that 250 CVs are received per job application. From this number, 50% don’t reach a human (thanks to the ATS systems), and when they do, only six seconds are spent reading them.
As disheartening as that sounds, Quelle suggests that the goal of a resume is not to get you a job but to get you an interview. “What employers want to see is not what you know but what you have done with it. With that in mind, I encourage job seekers to think of their CV as a movie trailer: it has to give a good overview of the story in a straightforward and eye-catching way.”
Tan believes you don’t have to rely on graphics to make your resume stand out. “In many cases, the graphics distract the employer or recruiter away from what’s really important – the content within the resume. The content needs to present the relevant parts of a candidate’s skills and experiences in a coherent manner to build the candidate’s professional brand towards what the company is looking for.”
Ace that (virtual) interview
Whether you like it or not, virtual interviews are a thing these days and first impressions are everything.
On top of the obvious checklist of checking your Wi-Fi connection and setting up your laptop, virtual interviews are more or less the same as in-person ones. Dress smartly, be on time and make sure your background is not cluttered. “Also, stick notes behind the laptop screen so you don’t forget what to say,” Choo adds.
Tan brings up a very good point. This might be your first interview of the day but that’s not the case for the interviewee. “Your replies to the interview questions will need to be more succinct and on point because your interviewers may be having video call fatigue after sitting through several interviews.”
Play the waiting game
The waiting time after a job interview can be brutal, especially if you’re getting radio silence from a potential employer.
Tan explains there are many reasons why an employer will hold back from selecting a candidate. The most important factor? When “a candidate is unable to articulate their work choice, showcase their skills and what they can do, and have the collaboration skills to work with others in the team.”
It’s all about picking the right fit for the company. Quelle thinks of the hiring process as dating. “Employees who frequently change jobs might be seen as unreliable and a risky investment. On the other side of the spectrum, ‘loyal’ employees can be perceived as risk-averse, rigid, narrow-minded, and stagnant.”
Quelle also points out that a trio of skills is highly desired in any job. “The ability to connect the dots, which can be translated into analytical, strategic, creative and critical thinking, and navigate uncertainty and change. Last but not least, the capacity to lead a group of diverse people to a result (read: conflict management, and empathy combined with influencing and driving for solutions and results).”
It’s all about presentation! Choo says it succinctly: “If you aren’t able to sell yourself, the employer won’t be able to see how you can contribute to the team.”
Let’s talk salary
Most people get squeamish when it comes to negotiating their financial remuneration after a job offer. But you’ve to understand that Covid-19 has drastically changed the job market, from the rise of remote work to industries like tourism taking a big hit and companies cutting wages to save jobs.
That’s not to say you’re not allowed to ask for higher wages. It’s all about supply and demand.
“The infocomm industry is experiencing growth, with demand for more manpower as UX, UI, web developers and cybersecurity specialists. This demand means there is a shortage of supply and the salaries of these roles naturally increase as a result,” Tan elaborates.
Quelle also shares a similar view. “With the borders closed and a considerable amount of talent leaving the Red Dot, some industries struggle to find niche skills. [And that has] pumped up the salaries.”
Whether you’re looking to change your career during the pandemic or you’re looking for reemployment after retrenchment, we leave you with these encouraging words.
“I know getting out there might be uncomfortable at first, but the worst that can happen is to hear NO, which means you remain where you are today. So, why not give it a try?” says Quelle.
Choo comments, “Stay calm, seek help from your network, your mentors, and if necessary, engage a career coach who can help you land a job soon.”
Tan closes off with, “look forward to what’s possible; identify what skills and experiences you have that can be transferred to new jobs. Challenge your own assumptions about what work should be and what you are capable of. The economy rewards the adaptable.”