How to navigate career change

The economic shockwaves of COVID-19 have been extremely challenging for individuals who have lost their job due to the pandemic. Entire industries have been affected, and it can be daunting to think through all the temporary or long-term changes occurring right now.

How should someone navigate career change? Job seekers that build a plan, and utilize the right resources can emerge from career change in a much better position than before.

First, get your finances in order

The first thing to do after a job loss is to evaluate your finances. File for unemployment unless you’ve received a generous severance package, and ensure that you have continuity in your healthcare coverage. There are multiple healthcare options available via COBRA or Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) for people who have lost their jobs.

Create a budget for yourself, and contemplate what changes you’ll need to make so you can stay under budget. You’ll still need to pay your bills, but your lifestyle may need to change now that you aren’t actively making money. Speak with creditors, landlords, and anyone else you have bills with. Make sure you’re honest with them about your situation.

Prioritize your expenses so that the “need to haves” (rent/mortgage/food) are paid for first while the “nice to haves” (cable subscription/entertainment expenses) are closely evaluated.

Don’t panic

It’s easy to panic after losing a job. Many of my clients freeze when they are blindsided by career change, and this causes them to lose momentum for pursuing their next role. Losing a job can be discouraging, but the outlook you adopt can influence your results. I counsel my clients to pursue the mindset that their new “full-time job” becomes…finding another job.

The faster you get going, the easier it is to create momentum to find your next role. Set goals for yourself as if you were a 40-hour-a-week employee looking for a new job. Identify someone (a friend, business associate, or significant other) to hold you accountable to meet those goals.

Plan for the future, with resources that can help

Job loss may feel like a desperate situation, but it’s also a great opportunity to do some introspection to identify if you are truly happy in your current career, or if your current career path has long-term viability. Resist the urge to rush into another role without revisiting your career plan. It’s important to begin making money again, but it’s also important to be strategic about the next move in your career.

Not sure how to build or evaluate your plan? The right resource or mentor can help you plan the future. Career change requires soul searching, and many people can benefit from one-to-one coaching from a professional career coach, or even a mentor that can provide objective career advice. Your mentor should be close enough to you to provide honest advice related to your ultimate goals, but not so close that their feedback is muddied because of your personal relationship with them. Find someone who isn’t afraid to give you critical feedback.

There are also many community-based, free resources to help you build your plan. Scottsdale’s Vista One Stop Career Center has a team of career coaches that can help, as does the Goodwill Career Center. Similarly, Career Connectors has multiple partnerships and resources that you can leverage as you build your plan and pursue your next step. I almost always recommend Pipeline AZ’s interest and skills assessment tools, as well as the resources found on their industry and jobs pages. The tools give you insights into your interests, and provide salary and career pathways that help you map your plan.

Update your resume, and LinkedIn

Your career coach or mentor should be able to help you update your resume, with relevant experience for your new career plan. I also highly encourage people, especially during the pandemic, to leverage LinkedIn to build and nurture professional relationships that they’ve developed over the years. Your professional relationships can still exist virtually, even when we are forced to be socially distant.

Tools like LinkedIn and Pipeline AZ are powerful for their job search functionality, as well as the ability to connect directly with recruiters. Once your profile is updated on each platform, you can notify recruiters that you are looking for work.

Be adaptable – opportunity awaits you

COVID-19 has created a new normal for the global workforce. Many jobs and industries have been shaken up, but tremendous opportunity has been created at the same time. Companies have adopted new policies on telecommuting, while enabling people to work remotely. Job seekers can look for roles across the country, or even across the world, while still living in Arizona.

The new model of work offers fantastic opportunities for workers that can adapt, and identify career pathways where there previously weren’t any. Nobody can predict whether some of the industry changes will be permanent or temporary, but it’s clear that new doors are open for those that can utilize a proper plan, and the resources at their fingertips.

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