How to stand out when changing careers during COVID-19

By Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many workers to consider new careers. That’s because certain industries have been decimated by lockdowns or aggressive social-distancing guidelines.

Museum professionals, for example, have increasingly explored new lines of work.

“The present circumstances pose unique challenges in navigating an active job search and finding the next step in your career,” Dana P. Hundley wrote last September in a column published by the American Alliance of Museums. With experience in recruiting, talent program development and career coaching, “I have found that it is possible to face uncertainty with resilience,” she said, “by creating a plan with an open mind.”

All workers have something of value, even when changing careers during a pandemic. The key, of course, is how to stand out when applying for that next great job. Jobseekers should maintain an updated résumé and LinkedIn account, said Hundley, who also recommends community engagement as a form of networking.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed business and commerce, including the revolution of contactless interactions between customers and service providers. But one thing hasn’t changed: The importance of a good résumé.

A résumé should be simple in design but powerful in describing a jobseeker’s skills, according to the Mississippi Department of Employment Security.

“Remember the purpose of your résumé,” the MDES says in its online tutorial. “A résumé is not intended to get you a job. Very few people are hired from their résumé alone. The real purpose is to get you an interview. Also, remember that you have to sell yourself at the interview — the largest part of the hiring decision is based on personality.”

Whether one likes to socialize, work quickly or take instructions, the strength of one’s personality should not be overlooked.

And while vaccines boost immunity, no one is immune to hardship.

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Job-related stress may compel certain workers to change careers during these difficult times. The National Education Association, a labor union representing 3 million U.S. teachers and support staff, conducted a nationwide poll last year and found 28% of its members were “more likely to retire early or leave the profession” due to the coronavirus public health crisis.

For those who have been laid off, seeking new lines of work may be necessary and even rewarding in the long run.

“While the negative impacts of COVID-19 are likely to be far-reaching, in some instances they may also incur positive career outcomes,” a panel of labor experts, including Maria L. Kraimer of Rutgers University’s School of Management and Labor Relations, said in an article published last May by Elsevier Inc.

Kraimer, Jos Akkermans and Julia Richardson said the “necessity to upgrade skills and competencies — particularly with respect to the use of technology” is a potentially positive outcome of this ongoing pandemic.

Some essential workers may consider changing careers to explore new opportunities to work from home. Whatever causes or forces someone to consider a change in career, job skills are always transferable.

Examples of transferable skills include written communications, verbal communications and time management. Being organized and able to follow directions also fall under the broad category of transferable skills, so job hoppers always have something to offer when changing careers.

The social networking website LinkedIn.com serves as a top venue for job hunters and hoppers these days. So for anyone considering a new gig, go to LinkedIn, Indeed, Glassdoor and the like and apply for exciting employment opportunities.

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