Some were considering career changes before the lockdown and others are doing so as a result of retrenchments. With a job market that’s shrinking daily, experts offer tips on how to secure a new job or career change
words by maki molapo / photo credit christina wocintechchat
The pandemic has compelled us to adapt to uncomfortable changes and to think about some much-needed career changes, and how to make those changes with the social, financial and travel limitations that have been placed on us. During this period, we have also seen drastic economic changes that have seen many SMMEs, which are the largest employers in the country, shutdown operations, creating a great deal of uncertainty around the future of the world of work. In an effort to acquire some form of security, people are either contemplating changing careers, upskilling or exploring greener pastures in other industries.
Pandemic aside, there are several other reasons why people want to change careers. Human Resources Administrator, Mampesa Mopeli, says some people were contemplating changing careers before the pandemic but there was hesitation caused by the lack of job security. So, people are taking advantage of the current uncertainty to explore other avenues. Head of Careers Services at the University of the Free State, Belinda Janeke says it also largely has to do with employees questioning, not only their value in the company but if the career they’re in is the correct one to begin with.
As grim as the job market seems, Janeke, says opportunities will also be created, because organisations are also considering the necessity and the methods of adapting to current changes. The question remains, is it a good time to change careers? Janeke says, “I feel 50/50 about it”. She says it’s between job security and the will to take a risk and do something new. However, as an employee considering changing careers because your industry’s future seems bleak, Janeke advises that you do extensive research on the developments as well as the evolution affecting your industry. On the other hand, Mopeli says she personally doesn’t think it’s a good idea primarily because virtually adjusting to the working environment can be a challenge that could end up affecting, not only your work but also your mental health. But Forbes, Caroline Ceniza-Levine says, “the right time to make a career move needs to account for everything else going on in your life too”, such as financial and family responsibilities.
Although there’s no single answer to the question, Janeke and Mopeli say there are a few things to consider before making the actual change:
- Research – You must do your research on the specific industry you’re interested in and look at which opportunities are there because every industry has been affected by the pandemic.
- Information and Technology – Janeke says people in the world of work need to start thinking of careers based on how they can apply their skills in relation to the technology that’s currently being used in their respective industries.
- Upskill yourself – Janeke says the perfect time to do this is if you’re considering leaving your current job at the end of the year. Mopeli adds that to avoid being stuck in a profession that doesn’t look as promising as you thought, enrol for online courses, train yourself for the position you have in mind and talk to people who work in that field about the advantages and disadvantages to ensure that the profession is the right fit.
- Get an objective second opinion – “This is somebody who can be objective to see whether your reasons for wanting to make this career move [are justified] – are they fear or passion driven?” Janeke advises. She also adds that if you’ve lost your job then this can be a fresh start for you. Mopeli also suggests that you, “weigh the urgency of you leaving the organisation to find out if it’s something that you can work on or if you have always wanted leave.”
- Networking – This will help if you don’t have enough experience in the field you’re transitioning into. Janeke says references are also not limited to your line manager because platforms like LinkedIn allow colleagues to endorse your skills or expertise.
Job hunting during a pandemic has become virtual and this may result in a need for more technological resources (which also require money) to remain competitive and Janeke says, “it almost boils down to networking”:
- Reach out to people who could help you update your CV, LinkedIn profile and upload your CV onto recruitment sites.
- Have a mock interview with someone to prepare for your virtual interview to ensure that you have all the resources that you need such as laptops, data and Wi-Fi.
- Mopeli also says you should try and find out which local businesses work with job seeking entities.
There you have it. Experts say despite current challenges, the job market is also looking for ways to be agile and create opportunities. And remember that if you don’t try, the answer will always be a “no”.