Keys to Switching Careers After the Pandemic
The pandemic’s effect on the job market has been historic*. However, for men and women dissatisfied with their careers, the pandemic represented an opportunity to take assessment and recalibrate what they wanted and needed from their careers. As a result, millions of people have switched or plan on switching careers after the pandemic ends.
As we all experienced, the pandemic drastically changed almost every job description. Millions of jobs became remote. Jobs that remained in person became eminently more stressful. And millions of others lost their jobs completely, whether because the companies couldn’t survive or, like many women, they were needed at home to take care of their children while schools were closed.
No matter the job or career, things changed. Some for the worse. Some for the better. Never in our history has there been an occasion for mass introspection about how we spend the majority of our waking adult hours. With nothing else to do, adults everywhere were faced with an intense look at what was working and what wasn’t in their jobs. And many of them decided to do something about it.
Are you one of the countless people switching careers after the pandemic? Start by evaluating how the ensuing changes affected you, both positively and negatively.
Did the Pandemic Make Your Job Better?
Working from Home
After years of resistance and insistence that work product and efficiency would suffer, employers big and small relaxed their working from home policies. And guess what? Nothing changed. In fact, many employees became more productive. Working from home was a global science experiment that succeeded. The precedent has been set and there is no returning from it.
If you have thrived while working from home, finding another remote job may be on the top of your list. Many jobs are now offering permanent work-from-home or part-time work-from-home as options.
The lack of a commute goes hand-in-hand with working from home. People suddenly got hours of their day back – hours that they were able to be more productive at work, spend with their family, help with children. This extra time has become a huge benefit, greatly adding to quality of life.
Looking for a new career may not allow for complete remoteness. In order to retain the bonus time, finding employment closer to home may become a priority.
The idea of being able to pick your child up from school or pop in for a 45-minute class party is incredibly appealing. The lack of facetime forced many employers to rightfully switch away from rigid 9-5 schedules to the mind set of “as long as the work gets done.” Being able to make that 4:30 gym class and then pop back online to finish a task can exponentially increase job satisfaction.
Finding a new job that offers this sort of flexible scheduling can make a huge difference when job hunting. Today, that may be often seen as a hybrid WFH schedule and the ability to work on alternate hours.
A lack of facetime with bosses can help with job satisfaction. While many bad bosses figured out how to manage this remotely, for the most part, employees gained more independence and ownership over their projects. Employers were forced to trust their people more, which helps enable a stronger sense of pride in their work.
Work Life Balance
A combination of many of the above factors has led to a healthier, more sustainable work/life balance for many people. As more and more people face burnout, finding employment that offers a better work/life balance has become key. If your job has started calling people back into the office full time, you may decide that maintaining the time spent with family, on hobbies, or other personal activities has gained importance. Moving into a new career that prioritizes family and outside-of-work activities can make an appreciable difference.
When the world went remote, many people took advantage of the time to get out of the city. They moved to the country, more rural or suburban areas. They moved where the lifestyle was more suited for them or their families, where the cost of living was lower or to be closer to nature or family. As the world reverts back to pre-pandemic, many people don’t want to move back. That means either finding a new place to work, remaining remote or readjusting to a long commute.
Staying in your new community may become a driving factor in any job change.
What Didn’t Work During the Pandemic
Clearly, the pandemic was not great for everyone’s career. In many cases, the pandemic highlighted existing flaws with a job that were easier to brush over in the past. As the world boiled down to the four walls of your home and your job, it became easier to notice what wasn’t working.
Many people learned that they thrive on social interaction and every day ‘water-cooler talk’. Missing out on interpersonal contact and camaraderie at the office was a huge drawback to working during the pandemic.
Always on the Job
When the home becomes the office space, it becomes difficult to leave work. Many people found themselves always working. Emails or questions that would normally wait until the next morning, suddenly needed to be handled right away. The lack of commuting time didn’t always equal free time. Often it just led to more time at a computer working.
Particularly for people in smaller homes and apartments, or with young children, working exclusively from home made a lot of people antsy and eager to get out. Facing the same walls for personal and business time can lead to a feeling of claustrophobia and develop an urge to get out and go anywhere.
Moving back into a physical workspace may be a great thing. Even finding a shared co-working space can help bring back the sense of a formal workspace, without requiring long commutes.
There were many people that did not have the opportunity to work from home. Essential workers, service industry, manufacturing and more. Whether from responses to masking, generalized fear, political opinions coming to light in the workspace, or being vastly overworked, the pandemic resulted in many workspaces becoming toxic and bad for mental health. The stress of the entire situation, combined with how employers, co-workers, and customers/clients responded to it often removed all the luster from any job.
Making a fresh start at a new company can hold a lot of appeal. Getting out of the service industry entirely or switching to a workspace that is lower stress can make a meaningful difference.
Your Post-Pandemic Career
Are you debating switching your career after the pandemic? Take advantage of the perspective you gained to make a list of what your new needs are and make a plan on how you can achieve them.
If you found that you need daily interactions with people, but don’t want to commute to an office, identify jobs that fit these requirements. It might be on a sales team. It might be starting your own local business. Or maybe consider changing tracks and working in a new career near your home.
Many of us were too stressed out from fear of getting sick. We were disgusted over how the world responded. We scrambled to figure out working from home while homeschooling our children. Or we were frantically looking for work to replace income lost from closed business or furloughs. Either way, many of us were in pure survival mode during the pandemic and not focused on finding a new career.
Now, as life has begun to normalize, take the time you need to analyze what working during the pandemic taught you about yourself and your needs. There has never been a better time to focus on what makes you happy and determine which career path will bring you the life and job satisfaction you need.
*While the pandemic was horrible for many, many reasons, we will not be discussing them here.