26 May

With the increase in the number of jobs lost as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, many people who have lost their jobs, as a result, are finding it difficult to back into the same careers or sectors they used to work in before. 

This begs the question, is it too late for a career change? 

This may be a good opportunity to review your current situation and establish whether a career change might benefit you. Perhaps you finally feel confident enough to chase that dream, or maybe you feel that the flexibility of working from home might suit your lifestyle better. 

Whatever your position, here are some questions you need to ask yourself as you plan your next career chapter.

What do I need?

The first thing to consider is what you need your employment to provide. A good place to start is with your monthly budget. Establish what you need to earn to live comfortably and save for the future. 

Review what you need in terms of flexibility and time. If you have elderly relatives who need help, or a hobby you’re keen to spend more time on. It may be that you can achieve your goals by changing jobs within your sector, rather than changing careers. Or it may be that the time is right for a bigger change.

What motivates me?

Use this opportunity to review what would make you happy. Would you rather try something creative, or serve your community better? Ask family members, friends, or peers what they feel your strengths are, often others can offer surprising insights.

What are my next steps?

Before you leap, make sure you are well prepared. Read as much as you can about the new role or industry you’re considering: trade magazines or newspapers can be useful for this. 

Start making connections

Networking, networking, networking. You’ve heard it a thousand times before, it’s important when you’re switching career fields. Think about it, after you’ve been in a particular career for 5 or 10 years, your contacts will be brimming with mentors, colleagues, and acquaintances willing to vouch for you professionally. 

When you switch lanes, however, those same people may not have the insight to be of much help. So how do you go about finding new allies?

If possible, arrange some work experience or shadowing so that you can be completely confident about the work you want to get into. 

Brush up your CV, carrying over any transferable skills or experience. 

It may also be worth signing up for online training if there are affordable courses or professional qualifications you need for your new role. 

Manage your expectations

That senior-level title? You may have to kiss it goodbye since your previous experience may not translate in the context of your switch. And a title change may bring about a salary cut, too so be prepared.

For many South Africans who have lost their jobs, this is a very stressful and financially difficult time but this can also be a time for renewal and lifestyle changes that can benefit you in the long run. 

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