For some, reinventing your career during the pandemic has become part and parcel of the Covid-19 experience. Though, in truth, many people simply had no choice in the spring of 2020. The pandemic triggered unprecedented job loss in the labor market not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s. In May of 2020 alone, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 49.8 million people—out of a total civilian labor force of 164 million people—were unable to work because their employer had closed or lost their business due to the pandemic.
By the spring of 2021, the BLS reported that approximately 60% of jobs lost the previous spring had returned. Though employment was still down, in contrast to the previous spring businesses were eager to hire. There were a reported 10.4 million job openings by August 2021. The problem was, a good percentage of Americans were simply not interested in the work. In fact, August saw 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs. More people than the population of Los Angeles, or that equal to about 3% of the workforce. The Great Resignation, as it has been dubbed, was in full force. To be clear, it wasn’t for want of collecting unemployment benefits as some challenged media pundits declared. For many, people were quitting unfulfilling jobs and going about the business of reinventing their careers. They were no longer settling for less.
In effect, the pandemic had simply kick-started work trends already in motion. Covid-19 had disrupted labor markets around the world. The sudden and severe impact of the pandemic saw tens of millions of people furloughed or lose their jobs, while others shifted to working from home as their offices closed. With so many unemployed in some sectors and so many overworked in others, the pandemic served as a catalyst for reinventing careers. According to one survey by Prudential, since the start of the pandemic, 20% of workers have already changed careers. Another survey conducted by Microsoft found 46% are considering a career change.
The numbers behind career changes are impressive. Americans of all age groups have changed careers since the pandemic began, with nearly 40% of them having 10 years or more of work experience. In total, 77% who have changed careers had 5 years or more work experience with nearly 55% of the group being of the millennial generation. In effect, people are not only more willing to change their careers but are likely to do so despite having already invested a significant amount of time in a previous one.
The pandemic’s disruption has truly made people value what they do. A Motley Fool survey in October of 2021 placed a better work-life balance, better income and better work culture, and opportunities for career growth as the leading reasons for a career change since the pandemic struck. Well over half—58% surveyed—were willing to take a pay cut to change the direction of their careers.
Where and how to work is also playing a motivational factor in career changes. The pandemic demonstrated that people who could work remotely did so productively. A PricewaterhouseCoopers survey among US executives reported that remote work has been an overwhelming success for companies, allaying fears to the contrary. Now, companies envision a type of hybrid workplace where office employees rotate days in and out of the office. Sharing office space. Embracing flexible schedules that allow people to work two days at home, say, and then spend three in the office.
Value of Career Counseling
If you are among the 46% that are ready for a career change, you will need to develop strategies to move forward. Any career counselor would say to develop a plan, check out the job options, keep an eye out for opportunities, assess any needed skills, and acquire any certifications, licenses, or training for that career. Certainly, a key strategy in finding a satisfying and rewarding career is by focusing on where it is you want to go and figuring out how to get there. What exactly are you looking for in a new career? Do not let yourself get bogged down on what you’re leaving behind and why.
As the pandemic has made many people realize the importance of a work-life balance, you will need to define what that means to you. From being home in the evenings with your family for dinner to not having to answer messages or check emails before you go to bed each night—what is your criteria for work-life balance? Make a list.
If career growth opportunities, security in that career, and a work culture that makes a difference are values you want in your work life, then another key strategy would be to identify what career path could offer growth and security for you. Perhaps more so, identify a career path that could make a difference and envision what type of satisfying role you could play in it. Reinventing your career during a pandemic should probably not be left to chance. It may be to your advantage to find guidance and assistance in developing a strategy with a reputable career counseling firm. Consider that career change counselors help their clients focus on what they wish to achieve, identify interests, perform career assessments, and do so with clarity and purpose to make ideal career decisions. At Core Themes we can help you match your strengths with career goals, and be a part of something bigger while creating positive change in the world.