How to Make a Career Move During a Pandemic

There’s no doubt that the job market will change– many believe in drastic ways — once this pandemic has passed. That made me wonder if job search professionals are being bombarded by people who are considering a career change because of what has happened during the COVID-19 crisis.

I reached out to Philippe Danielides, executive coach and founder of Inner Current Coaching, to find out what he’s seeing on the front lines of the job search market.

“The trend I’ve observed from both current and prospective clients has actually been to put their career switch on hold because of the belief that the crisis has made a career switch significantly harder,” Danielides reports. “Given the dramatic uptick in unemployment claims and impact to our economy, it’s certainly understandable and reasonable to assume that the job market would tighten.”

That doesn’t mean he suggests completely cutting off new career pursuits. In fact, he’s currently working with one client who is a corporate lawyer looking to leave a firm to go in-house on the business strategy side; another who is an in-house attorney who wants to move from New York City to a smaller market where he can spend more time in nature, pursuing his hobbies; and a third who is in the performing arts and looking for a job at an environmentally focused nonprofit.

Instead of putting everything on hold, Danielides tells his clients to remember three important things:

1. There’s a huge difference between facts and assumptions — even reasonable ones. “They may be right. It might in fact be harder for them to get a job in a different field,” he says. “But the truth is that they haven’t gathered factual and reliable evidence to prove or disprove the impact of this crisis on their career-switch goals. Unless they can tell me with 100% certainty that there are no career-switch opportunities out there right now — I know they can’t, I’m setting them up! — there’s no basis for pausing their process.”

2. Focus on fit rather than probability. Instead of focusing on overall business trends and the probability of success — which so many job seekers do — Danielides stresses that the most important criteria for success is the fit between a job opening and a person’s professional interests and experience. “All it takes is for the right position to open at the right time,” he says.

3. Applying to jobs isn’t the only step you can take to move yourself forward. Networking with friends, past co-workers and fellow alumni, and researching companies you’re interested in working for are all ways to stay engaged, Danielides says.

If you are considering a career move during this uncertain time, Danielides suggests taking the following steps before you head in a completely new direction:

–Start with Plan A: Imagine what an ideal work scenario would look like for you; not what you think is practical or realistic, but what would be ideal.

“Focus less on the subject matter of what you’ll be doing — because the truth is you don’t know — and more on the rhythm and feel of your day,” he says. “Do you want to be in an office or work remotely? Spend more time in meetings and collaborating or working solo, checking in after office hours — or is the ability to sign off at the end of the day most important? Start with what you want, not what you think you can get, and let that vision guide your efforts.”

–List your non-negotiables: “What is it about your current job or field that makes you want to leave? Think about it, write it down, and keep it close by so that you don’t forget when you start applying to jobs,” says Danielides, who has seen many people talk themselves into applying for jobs that would subject them to some of the same things they hate about their current job.

“The rationalizations are endless. And while I’m not saying that there’s a perfect opportunity out there, knowing what your non-negotiables are in advance and sticking to them is a great way to focus your search, filter opportunities, and protect yourself from winding up in a similar spot.”

–Talk to people in the fields you’re considering entering. “Ask them what they like, what they don’t like,” he suggests. “And at the end of the conversation, if it’s going well, ask them if they’d be willing to put you in touch with another friend or colleague for an informational call. Use the momentum of that moment and leverage personal connections to continue your research.”

(Article written by Kathleen Furore)